Dear readers, we were extremely busy today and I left my phone at home. Typical of me these days but at least I’m lucky enough to have a mobile phone in the first place. So apologies to anyone that was trying to contact me.
We had good weather for a change which we really welcomed both it makes a nice change. We’ve been lucky so far with the weather.
The food parcels went almost immediately, a sad incitement of how the government treats the poorest and most vulnerable. They’re actually proud of the fact that we have foodbanks when in reality it’s shameful.
Most of the people that we spoke to today were having problems with their ESA or universal credit claim. I found it extremely concerning that most of the people that I spoke to didn’t know what benefit they were receiving. The systems far too complicated and most of them didn’t know how to use a computer. This almost always inevitably results in them getting a sanction and of course the DWP don’t give a stuff.
As usual I’ll list some of the conversations that we had with people. All of them were extremely vulnerable and shouldn’t have to be going through this.
As I was sat waiting for Gordon to arrive I had a conversation with a chap who was extremely confused. He had a stroke not long ago and as a result his short term memory isn’t good.
I engaged him in conversation and he asked if he could have a food parcel. I said yes of course he could and I asked him why did he need a food parcel. To say he’s confused is an understatement. He doesn’t know what benefit he was getting, he only knew that his payments had been stopped. After asking him some more questions it sounded like he had been claiming ESA and hadn’t attended one of the DWPs farcical medical examinations.
This is how the DWP and government treats the most vulnerable people in society, they don’t give a shit if they live or die. If they can’t make any money out of you they’ll bin you like yesterdays newspaper, which will most likely be a copy of the Metro newspaper their favourite propaganda tool.
Luckily I was there to help him and I advised him of what to do but I shouldn’t have to be there to help people should I. I’m meeting him next week to help him further. He also took a food parcel home with him.
It was then that I spoke to another disabled chap. Here is a brief outline of his situation, I’ll name him Bob.
Bob is claiming the disability related element of universal credit. Bob was due to go into hospital for a hip operation and he informed the DWP of this. Thinking that everything was ok he went ahead with the operation.
A few months later he received a letter in the post from the DWP. It informed him that he was going to have to undergo a telephone compliance interview. Bob didn’t have a clue why he was sent this letter but it worried him.
The day of the compliance interview arrived and the DWP asked him why he’d missed an appointment given to him whilst he was in hospital. They threatened him with a sanction but luckily he’d kept all the paperwork to prove that he was in hospital.
It gets worse for Bob.
Not long after the compliance interview Bobs mobile phone was stolen. He informed the DWP that he couldn’t receive calls etc on his mobile phone because it’d been stolen.
Any reasonable organisation would have taken note of this and would act accordingly but not the DWP. They sanctioned him for three months because he couldn’t answer phone calls etc because his phone had been stolen. You couldn’t make this up could you.
Bobs only just started to receive his payments again, he told me that he was scarred for life, that he’d never felt as low as he did for the three months he was sanctioned.
Bob could and should have appealed their decision but he didn’t know that he could do this, saying that he just accepted it and tried to struggle. He will be appealing any wrongful decision made by the DWP in the future.
It was then that I spoke to a lady I shall name Diane. Diane very proudly told me that she’d worked all of her adult life until she became ill and had to stop working and started to claim ESA.
Diane was then told that she needed to have an operation in the very near future so she informed the DWP. The DWP responded by stopping her ESA because she failed to attend a farcical DWP medical on the day of her operation.
Remember that Diane did inform the DWP that she was unable to attend the appointment but they stopped her ESA regardless. Luckily Diane knew that she could appeal this decision and she did. She appealed and then attended a tribunal and won.
Not content with this the DWP sent her another appointment for a farcical DWP medical examination. She attended and she failed. Diane appealed and went to her tribunal and won again.
Diane told me that the DWP treat her like scum, she knows that they hate her and she’s lost any confidence that she once had. No one should be treated in this manner but it happens to thousands of people everyday. As we were talking we spotted two of our local Tory councillors entering the Tameside One building. Diane recognised them and said that it’s their fault and their parties fault that she was being treated like this.
Diane’s correct of course but they don’t give a stuff, they deny anything like this is happening.
Meet Brian. Brian’s an older chap who was handing his latest fit note in. He told me that he’d recently finished a CPC course and had a letter stating that he had a job offer if he can show them his CPC qualification.
Guess what, the DWP are refusing to help him and he’s extremely frustrated about this. What Brian said next was quite poignant. “They do this because they have to justify their jobs, they have to justify their existence. Without people like me going into the Jobcentre they’d be out of a job themselves”
I noticed a man that I shall call Jack climbing the stairs to the Jobcentre and I asked him if he wanted one of our leaflets. He took one but he was angry, angry at the world, angry at himself because he feels like a failure. He told me that he’d been working for a local company and his employer was taking £50 a week off him supposedly for his tax payments.
Jacks payslips tell a different story though and basically he’s being ripped off. I asked him to contact GM Law centre because they’re interested in employment cases like these.
No wonder Jacks angry I’d be furious as well.
Last but not least we spotted an older chap walking towards us. I asked him if he needed a leaflet and he said that he didn’t know so I asked him why.
His problem is this, he’s 65 and living off his very meagre savings. I asked him why he hadn’t made an application for benefits and he told me that he was too scared. He knows how awful the system is and he doesn’t think that he’d be able to cope with it.
If this isn’t bad enough he’s recovering from cancer and has a big hernia that causes him a lot of pain. He lifted his top up and showed me the strapping round his lower waist that covers his hernia. “They’d declare me fit for work with this and the cancer, I’d rather struggle like this than have to go through that”.
The amount of people that make the same decision up and down the country is enormous. It’s a reliable bet that there’s thousands of people that take themselves off they system and try to live another way. Many of these people become homeless and find it hard to escape their circumstances. To them it’s less stressful than living on the street.
Other conversations that I had included questions about deposits for flats, not being able to eat whilst claiming universal credit and universal credit wants me to fail and how do I appeal DWP decisions etc.
The problems that occur whilst claiming universal credit appear to be never ending, once you get over one hurdle another appears and you have to climb another one.
Not one of the people that I speak to are ‘scroungers’ or ‘waste of spaces’. They’re lovely genuine people that are struggling due to no fault of their own. It angers me greatly when I see Tory mps and councillors laughing at us whenever anyone asks them questions on this subject. They think that it’ll go away if they ignore it and pretend that it isn’t happening. Most of them deny the very existence of our suffering and aren’t scared of saying so.
The only way that we can stop their cruelty is to use your vote and vote them out because if we don’t I honestly don’t know how much more of this cruelty we can endure.
Needless to say we will be returning next week. Please come and join us if you’re in the area it would be wonderful to see you.
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