Sorry this weeks blog update is late, I had a cuppa after the demo and I have spent time with a person who has felt totally let down by the system. I helped them out, and hopefully made their life a bit brighter over the Easter period.
Huzzah!! This week there was no rain, but as Gordon says, the area outside the Jobcentre has its own micro climate. This means that it’s always cold. We were joined by our friends from the Wigan Pier Project today, they have previously wrote a really good article about our work and it was lovely seeing them again. If you haven’t read this just google Wigan Pier Project Daily Mirror.
The food parcels arrived and left almost as soon as they arrived, bar two which were distributed an hour later. It’s awful that we have to give these out every week, and we must continue to oppose the causes for them in the first place. If we don’t the government will continue to feel justified in making their horrendous decisions that force people to have to use food banks etc in the first place. They have to be held accountable at all times, and I intend to continue doing so.
The first person that I spoke to this morning was a victim of the Universal Credit waiting time. They have only just got themselves on their feet, are housed in a sparsely furnished flat but now have no money for at least three more weeks. They have already been waiting for three weeks for their claim to be processed, and I hated being the bearer of the bad news that they still have a long wait. It’s a cruel system, designed to put people off claiming their rightful benefits and I can’t see any justifiable reason as to why they make people wait for their payments for what appears to still be an average of 6 to 10 weeks. The only reason that I can see for this is the above, and that the government must get some perverse kick out of seeing the poorest and most vulnerable people suffer in this way.
I spoke to a lady who looked stressed and rushed. She told me that she didn’t have enough money to feed her children and as a result she regularly goes without food. She showed me a big container of Philadelphia soft cheese and told me that she had bought it at the cheap food shop next door for a couple of quid. She went on to say that this would be their breakfast and most likely teas, also get with some cheap bread that she had purchased. She can only dream of walking into a supermarket and buying a trolley full of good, nutritious food. Many people take this for granted, but far too many of us don’t. Its a travesty that the government feels fit to treat our children in such a manner. These children are our future, and are future voters. They’ll never forget having to live in poverty like this, I myself have never forgiven Margaret Thatcher and her government either for similar reasons.
I spoke to a lady who is struggling paying for her council tax and eating. She says that she often goes without meals because she has to pay this awful bill. I agreed with her that it’s awful, I struggle also, but it isn’t right that she should be in this position. The government should be funding local authorities correctly so that they don’t need to make us pay more, and anyway the whole council tax system is also cruel, it needs reviewing and based upon income not postcode etc. The poorest cannot afford to pay anymore and most councils will be running at a loss because of this.
We asked a young lady how the Jobcentre was treating them as we handed her a leaflet. She said ‘Rubbish’ and ‘Not good at all, but what can I do about it?’ This is how most people are feeling and most people walk into the Jobcentre with their heads down wanting it all to stop. All they want is to be treated decently, like they deserve to be treated.
We had ran out of food parcels so I went to the cheap shop down the road to buy some food for a lady that I have been helping. meanwhile Gordon and Roy had been talking to a man who had been working four the same company for 24 years. He had been made redundant, and he told them that he was being given the runaround by the DWP, and spoken to as if he was insignificant, worthless etc etc. Anyone reading this who has or have had to use Jobcentres will understand this scenario.
Let’s make this clear, a man works for the same company for 24 years he was a good employee, through no fault of his own he is made redundant and the thanks that he gets is to be treated like dirt. Yep, welcome to Ashton Jobcentre and the DWP in general. They don’t treat their employees any better than this.
We spoke to another young lady whilst she was leaving the Jobcentre. We asked her how she was and she relied “They are f******g useless in there”.
I was told about another new so called training scheme that is targeted specifically at disabled claimants, its being held at a venue near my home apparantly and is called… Wait for it ‘Discover a new working you’. This is supposedly supposed to be the DWPs latest miracle cure to long standing illnesses and disabilities. Claimants have to attend for two weeks. Take it from me, if they were able to work they would do, no one chooses to live a life in constant pain etc, and this constant targeting towards vulnerable people by the DWP has to stop. It makes me angry and also upsets me that the government is relentless in their quest to treat disabled and ill people in this manner.
I spoke to a man who had previously been doing ok, well as ok as you can managing the awful DWP system. He is partially sighted and so is his girlfriend. He had been told by one of our local social housing providers that he had to apply for Universal Credit. This isn’t quite true though, they will shift him over because we are on a full roll out now, bit it isn’t his time yet. This didn’t stop him from entering into a state of panic though. He tried to use a computer, tried to acces the UC claim form, but he couldn’t do it, he wasn’t able because of his vision problems. But the point here is that he was under the impression that he had to, that he had no choice and was scared of loosing his housing benefit. He had this confirmed, so went home a little bit happier, but this shouldn’t have happened.
We then noted that two women wearing Poundland uniforms were entering the building to sign on. They didn’t tell us if they were employed and claiming Universal Credit or a part of the DWPs workfare scheme. Either way Workfare, in whatever guise that it goes under now is still alive and kicking in Poundland.
Please note that the DWP computer system was down on Monday and I believe the day after also. It’s still not functioning correctly so please make paper records of all your job searches etc and take photos with your mobile phones if you can do. Always keep records, its very important to do so.
This all happened in two hours folks, can you imagine how busy we would be if we were there all day every day? Life is horrendous for many, but we are there to help and support people. Many thanks to everyone for joining us today I do realise that it’s hard and tough going but our work is so important.
Also many thanks to everyone who reads, shares and supports my blog. I receive no funding for either. It’s not easy but I will continue, we will continue to do so.
Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!