Well readers, it’s Thursday again and for a change it wasn’t raining. It was sunny though and that was welcome. We could have done with some of that seemingly tropical weather that we had last week.
This week was busy, and we helped many different people all with differing problems. Most of the people that we spoke to were stressed, but thankful that we were there to help, indeed as you will read further down the blog a woman thanked us for this.
As what has become the norm, I’ll list the problems and comments made today. Whilst you are reading you need to question what sort of government treats the poorest and most vulnerable like this? I hope that one day they will be held accountable for this.
The first person that I spoke to was a lady whom I had spoken to before. Her problems are very complex, as they often are. None of them can, and will be sorted out overnight. She is trying though but at the moment is in a no win situation.
She’s been affected by the benefit cap and is struggling to keep her home and feed her family. For anyone reading this that claim that she should budget better, let me tell you how difficult it is to budget with NOTHING. Today she was extremely stressed and agitated and asked me for a food parcel, she said that she desperately needed one and I believed her. In her arms were a few packets of baby wipes and assorted bits of food. She told me that she had shoplifted them because she wasn’t sure if we would have a food parcel for her. I told her that we would never let her down.
We had a long conversation about how hard it was for her at the moment. She’s really struggling and will be attending court soon over her rent arrears. She also has to pay top up rent because of the benefit cap. To put it bluntly she’s going through hell and can’t see a way out at the moment.
She told me about how she’s struggling with her job searching online because her internet has been cut off and shes juggling her life around her children. She told me that it’s easier to shoplift than to deal with the DWP, and that she feels degraded and unloved. “Who cares about me? They don’t (pointing at the Jobcentre), and everyone is pressuring me.” I reassured her that we do care, that we will never judge her and her life will eventually get better.
I also signposted her to local organisations etc. To be honest her appearance shocked me, she used to be happy, a smiley person and liked to help others. Today she’s the total opposite and that upset me.
I asked an older man how things were going for him at the Jobcentre. He told me that it was rubbish but he had to do it. He isn’t wrong.
I spoke to a man who is recovering from an addiction. He’s doing extremely well and is at the moment sofa surfing. He told me that this is far safer than being in a local hostel or b&b because he doesn’t want to be around others with addiction problems because he doesn’t want to relapse. This is extremely understandable.
He told me that the Jobcentre have put him on several courses with the promise of getting his specialised driving licence and doorperson license. He recalled the good days before his problems started, that he used to earn a good living being a door person (bouncer), stating that he wished that life was like that again.
He stated that he feels frustrated because he falls between the cracks of society. He’s a single, healthy male so isn’t a priority for housing, and he isn’t seen as being vulnerable. Because he’s sofa surfing he isn’t eligible for the new scheme launched by Andy Burnham, which I think states that one of the requirements is that they are long term street homeless.
I had a chat, referred him to local organisations and said that we are here for him every Thursday if ever he needs a chat etc.
I spoke to a person who is extremely worried about their forthcoming transfer onto Universal Credit. At the moment they claim ESA and PIP, and it’s understandable that they are very concerned. We have made arrangements to meet and have a chat about this.
I spoke to a woman who was understandably annoyed. She’s currently unwell and her daughter had tried to hand in her sicknote on her behalf. The person on the front desk told her daughter that she couldn’t do this, and that her mother had to do it.
So she arrived at the Jobcentre, unwell with her sicknote to hand in. A different person on the front desk told her that her daughter COULD have done this. PLEASE do your jobs properly on the front desk folks. Why on earth was her daughter told that she couldn’t hand the sick note in? Appalling.
I was told by a person that G4S are still taking claimants (hate that word sorry) personal details at the front desk. Now under the data protection laws they aren’t allowed to do this, they also know that they aren’t allowed to do it but this doesn’t stop them. I’ve complained about this on numerous occasions to no avail.
STOP IT. If any G4S security guard fancies becoming a DWP employee then apply for a job with them. They work for G4S as security guards, but spend most of their time intimidating people, and if the DWP system was kinder like it used to be then they wouldn’t be needed.
We spoke to a woman who was thankful of our survival guide. She stated that ‘They try to get you in any way’.
We spoke to a younger man. Upon recieving one of our survival guides he pointed at the Jobcentre and said ‘Somat needs to be done about them’. I didn’t disagree with him.
Last but not least, I had a conversation with a lovely lady. She summed up her experience with the DWP perfectly, and this is how most people feel. I’ll let you think about this, and also ask, could you live like this? And why is it ok that a person is made to feel like this? Most of my readers will agree that it isn’t ok.
“They (the DWP) treat you like dirt, and I always feel like I’ve done something wrong. Because I’m older I was put on a course specifically for older people to find work. Whilst doing this course we were told that we had to arrive with a smiling, happy face. How on earth can anyone be happy when they never leave you alone? They told us that we wern’t allowed to frown because that won’t help us to find work. I was ill at the time, but I was too scared to hand a sick note in because I was scared of what they would do to me, but I still had to smile. I’m not a criminal, I’ve always worked but they don’t care”
Just as she was leaving she stopped me and Roy and said that we had helped her more than anyone inside the Jobcentre had, and that she was thankful that we were there.
I want to change this system, I’ve been trying for over four years now as have others. The cruelty that is inflicted upon the poorest and most vulnerable appears to be never ending and relentless. It’s almost as if the government gets a strange kick out of doing it.
Some weeks are harder than others, this was a one of those.
Thank you to everyone that came along today. We handed out help, advice, solidarity, compassion, food parcels and are a friend to those that feel lost.
We also signpost everyone if appropriate. We ever let anyone walk away unhelped.
Also a massive thank you to everyone that reads, shares, tweets and emails my blog. I really do appreciate it. Also thank you to everyone that supports my blog. As a single parent on the breadline (often below it) myself, I really do appreciate it. Your kind words do mean the world and they keep me going.
Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!