Yes it’s Thursday yet again so this morning we have been doing our weekly demo, help and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. We were very busy and there were only three of us there, we would love to see more though. The weather was lovely and sunny, and that makes a change. I expect that they’ve kept the heating on inside the Jobcentre, they like to keep it very hot, most likely to make the claimants suffering even worse.
We spoke to lots of people and I really wish that we didn’t have to do this but we do. If we didn’t then many won’t get the help that they need. If I could I would be outside every day helping people. But I’ve put in over four years commitment so no one can say that I’m not dedicated.
I’ll list todays conversations. I wish that people wern’t treated like this, but they are and at many Jobcentres up and down the country. The DWP get away with this because they are employed by the government and are directed by them. Nothing will change until they leave government, and we need to put more pressure on The Labour Party to take a tougher stance against Universal Credit and the DWP regime. It’s not good enough to say that they can’t change anything because if they are elected into government they can. It would take a lot of work but stopping this regime is very important.
Today I noticed a lot of heavily pregnant women entering and leaving the Jobcentre. I often wonder if they see different types of people in blocks, because I also noted a lot of older near retirement age people having to go into the Jobcentre today. More than normal.
I spoke to a young man I’ll call him M. I can’ give his full name incase of recriminations from the Jobcentre for talking to us. This has happened before so this is why everyone’s details are confidential. The DWP hold grudges and aren’t afraid to do so either.
He told me that he had been previously sanctioned for not attending an appointment even though he didn’t receive the appointment. (Yes I do know that this happens a lot, I’ve wrote about it on numerous occasions). He told me that he wasn’t told that he could appeal this sanction which is no surprise. But he couldn’t understand why he was told that he had to continue complying with his Jobsearching etc. It dodn’t make sense to him that he still had to comply even though he wasn’t getting any money.
He had been told that he had to Jobsearch for 38 hours a week, which is wrong. The limit is 35 hours which in itself is ludicrous,and like he said “Where are all these jobs, there arent any jobs and certainly not enough to look for 38 hours a week”.
He told me that he is still sanctioned, is hungry and he wasn’t sure about how much longer he could cope. ‘If I die, I’ll die alone because I’ve got nothing” he told me. This is how the DWP makes people feel. I won’t sugar coat it this is reality and the government disgusts me beyond words.
We had a long chat, I gave him lots of advice etc and he left us feeling happier than he did. If we hadn’t been there it could have been a whole lot worse.
Yes people are either driven to suicide or they die from malnutrition related illnesses or hypothermia. Thousands have done so and thousands will do so.
I spoke to an older man who has just been transferred over to Universal Credit. He has at least another seven week wait for his first payment. That’s seven weeks without money unless he gets a loan. He told me that it’s shit, life is shit and they treat you like shit. His words. He’s quite correct though.
I spoke to a man whom English is his second language. My heart went out to him because the DWP system is so much more complicated for him and it’s hard enough to begin with. The DWP also like to mess claimants that don’t understand around more. I’ve found that over the years that this happens.
I spoke to a woman that missed her ESA assement because she was ill. She wasn’t told that she could appeal etc. They’ve now put her on Universal credit but I pointed her in the right direction for help and advice.
We spoke to a man who had never been unemployed until now. He was an older chap and he looked bemused at the fact that the Jobcentre staff refuse to help people now. They just handed him a piece of paper with telephone numbers on it. Lovely eh.
I spoke to a 60 year old lady. She should be retired but the government changed the retirement age for women. The DWP have made her attend a course which takes up most of her time to look for work. Not content with humiliating her enough, they have now told her that she has to attend a second course so that she can find work quicker. Shes 60 years old, yes 60 years old. No one will employ her. Why can’t they just leave people of her age alone. This makes me angry. She deserves respect not humiliation.
I spoke to a man who is awaiting his first Universal Credit payment. He has another three weeks at least to wait and he told me of how his stomach has shrank because he can’t eat adequately. I’ll let that sink in. He’s hungry and the government don’t give a stuff.
We spoke to a woman who is waiting for her first Universal Credit payment to go through. She had applied for an advance loan but the bank took all her money out due to bank charges. We advised her that she must go to her bank and ask for a refund of those charges due to her circumstances. They can do this, I’ve done it myself.
We spoke to a younger man who is claiming ESA. He was clearly distressed and worried, he told us that it’s because he never knows how he is going to be treated and he’s correct in thinking that. He shouldn’t have to go through this and the DWP are making him very ill with worrying.
A man walked into the Jobcentre stating that they treat him like shit, a common theme today and everyday.
We spoke to a man who was sanctioned for being a minute late for his appointment…. He had been attending his ESA assessment. Yes this happens. He told us that it’s not fair that his voice isn’t heard. I told him that I would make sure that he is heard.
We spoke to a man who had missed an appointment because his letter had arrived after the appointment date. Of course the DWP told him that this was his fault not theirs. They will never shoulder any responsibility for anything that happens. The best that you will see is a shrug of the shoulders.
This all happened within two hours, yes two hours and I’m so grateful for Gordon and Roy for coming along. It’s very hard work and it can be heartbreaking. But we try our best to help people and to make the world a better place.
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