Dear readers. Today was another interesting morning outside the new Jobcentre.
As soon as I arrived I was immediately met by yet another person from the council. That’s three different people in three weeks, they must be desperate to get rid of us.
To put it bluntly we’ve been doing these protests for over five years now. Not one council official or employee has ever approached us with offers of ‘help’ or suggestions of how we should do things. No concern was ever shown for the claimants that we’re helping except concern and help from local councillors and two MPS that have helped us.
Now I’m being met by differing officials all of whom are offering me the same thing. A room inside the council building on a Thursday at the same time as the demos. Although one of these people actually suggested a different day.
Whilst I’m interested in some of the suggestions that they’ve made they can’t and won’t whitewash us away because the DWP now share the same building as the council. They should have thought about this when the plans were being drawn up.
The employees that have been sent out to talk to us appear to have no idea that we are a high profile campaign and have a very large support base, and anyway I’m used to having to be able to stand my ground.
In simple terms I won’t be bought off.
Ok back to today. Once again because an official decided that they wanted to speak to me again I was taken away from being able to help people. I’m not sure that this is their intention, but wether it is or not I’m getting rather annoyed with it. At least members of the team were able to hand the food parcels out. Next week I refuse to be distracted by anyone.
All the food parcels were handed out within 20 minutes and everyone that needed help was signposted and/or helped.
As well as helping people we’re also there to protest against the inhumanity of universal credit. Quite simply it isn’t fit for purpose and people are dying as a result.
We spoke to many people and had some very interesting conversations with people. Here’s a run down of the conversations that we had today.
We spoke to a woman who told us about her experience of the DWP. Her story is this.
Last year she had an advisor that wasn’t being nice to her (sadly that’s not unusual), so she asked if she could change her advisor and requested to be treated with some dignity. Her request was denied and her advisor sent for two security guards to escort her from the building.
Yep a simple request denied and a vulnerable person treated as though they’re a criminal. Don’t fall for the rubbish that comes out of Amber Rudds mouth. Jobcentres are generally hostile environments.
I spoke to a man who is now relying on food banks and our food parcels to survive. He’s worked all of his adult life until now because his health isn’t good.
I like to chat with him because we’re most likely the only people that he sees and has a good chat with. When I looked at him I could see that he’s so fed up of the system because he’s just about surviving.
I then had a chat with a lovely woman and her friend. She told me that she’s always worked until now because she’s been ill and is now unable to work. She started to claim universal credit in September and every month she has to chase up the rent element of her universal credit. Every month the DWP underpays her.
As well as having to chase up payments she’s also stuck in the cycle of repaying back the loan that she was forced to take when she applied for universal credit and on top of this she has to pay back an overpayment from her previous tax credit claim.
She’s broke, is fed up and told me that both herself and her younger children are having to survive on £220 a month and that’s before she’s bought her gas and electric for the week.
Could you survive on this? Would it make you feel eager to find a job even though you might be unable to. I know that having to survive on such a low amount of money certainly doesn’t incentivise you into finding work. Instead it makes you hungry, driven by hunger and finding food takes over every other single thought in your head.
This is why so many give up, why many people die early and why some disabilities become worse.
As I type this around 3.7 million children are living in absolute poverty in the uk. That’s 3.7 million children that are hungry, that need the basics of life. much like this woman and her children. Why the government is being allowed to get away with this is beyond me, but hey the news will be taken over by Brexit.
Most of the people that I speak to couldn’t care less about Brexit because they’re hungry. That’s the most important thing for them. The reality is that not many of these children and their parents will ever be taken out of the circle of poverty that they’re now stuck in.
I asked the lady how was she surviving. She told me that it’s the kindness of friends that’s keeping her going. A sad reality for many.
I spoke to a woman needing some advice for their friend who’s now having to go through the whole ESA and PIP application system. It’s a nightmare and made as such to stop people from making a claim.
I spoke to a woman who had always worked until she became ill and had to have half of her bowel removed. If that wasn’t bad enough shes also broke her arm.
I asked her what would she like to do with her life in the future. She told me that she’d like to return to work but doubts if she would be able to for a long time.
I asked her if the DWP are treating her well and she told me that they weren’t because they don’t treat anyone well, saying that the whole system is awful and needs to be replaced. Of course she’s correct.
She’s also repaying her DWP loan back and a previous tax credit debt. I advised her and signposted her for help with these matters.
I spoke to a young man who’s being continually sent on the pointless DWP courses that they like to send people on. So far he’s been sent to a few of these courses.
It’s pointless he told me. They send me miles away and they’re supposed to reimbursement for my transport costs. I’ve asked for my fares to be paid this week and the company that I was sent to have refused to repay him.
This poor chap survives on £55 a week, out of this he has to get gas, electric, food pay the council tax supplement etc. He told me that he won’t be able to buy as much food as he would like to.
£55 a week is the cost of a breakfast and a few drinks to some Tory politicians. It’s absolutely disgraceful that we are supposed to survive on such low amounts of money.
This all happened within two hours outside one Jobcentre. People are suffering like never before but Brexit is taking over the news.
How long are we expected to survive like this? I’m certain that they want to kill us off slowly, because that’s exactly what it feels like.
We will be back next week, please come and join us we really need your support at the moment. If you can’t join us then please support us online. Thank you!!
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