Category: confidence

Man given eight-month sanction for missing an appointment. Can we stop sanctioning people, please?

Dear readers, I apologise for the lateness of my blog. As you may have heard Esther Mcvey has resigned from her role as the DWP minister because she doesn’t agree with the deal put forward by Theresa May, she actually stated that she wouldn’t be able to look her constituents in the eye. I found this quite hypocritical because she has no problem looking in the eyes of the disabled, poor, working poor and the families of those who have died as a result of her cruel decisions whilst in office.

Don’t celebrate yet because she’ll be back, she’s done this before, and anyway, they’ll replace her with someone equally as odious and stone-hearted. We shouldn’t start celebrating until we have a general election and Labour win, and if this happened it’d take us years to repair the damage.

Anyway, the blogs late because I had to go to Salford Quays to be interviewed by Granada news regarding this. So my apologies once again.

Once again can I remind people that we handed out five food parcels, we helped and advised everyone that we spoke to and signposted everyone that needed to be signposted. We also act as an impromptu councilling group and we offer advice concerning other matters also.

The campaign doesn’t end at 12pm on Thursday, for me, it lasts for seven days a week.

Yesterday was a little warmer even though it was dull. armed with a cup of decaf I walked over to the Jobcentre. I was greeted by a woman who we’ve been helping for a while now. She’s a shy woman and yesterday we had a breakthrough, she opened up about her situation and we can now help her further.

Due to circumstances out of her control, she’s had to make changes to her claim for universal credit and as a result, she’s not going to receive any payments so I handed her a food parcel.

It’s so sad to see someone that’s desperately trying to improve her situation being pushed further down into poverty. This won’t enrich her life, it’ll make life much harder for her and to be honest I’m worried about her.

 

I spotted a lady walking out of the Jobcentre with two small children, one in a pram. She told me that she’s had to make a new claim for universal credit and she has been forced to take a loan from the DWP to survive.

It shouldn’t be like this, children shouldn’t be forced by the government to go hungry, not to forget their mother will be hungry and no doubt their health will suffer. It takes a government of psychopaths to inflict cruelty such as this.

 

A woman stopped Gordon and she explained her situation, which unfortunately isn’t uncommon. Her situation is this. She’s currently claiming JSA and has been offered a job. Brilliant you might say, and it is, however, there’s a problem. Her job is a part-time position and it would take her over the threshold that’s allowed when claiming JSA, she’d have to move over to universal credit and the thought of this scares her.

She knows that she’ll have to go without any payments for at least five weeks, she knows that the conditions of universal credit would damage her both physically and mentally. Basically, she’s scared.

We had a chat and we’re hoping that her situation has been rectified, but once again it shouldn’t be like this. Making a claim for universal credit feels like you’re being punished, and it’s a fact, to be honest. We’re being punished for being poor, for needing help and it’s cruel and unnecessary.

 

I was stopped by a man that myself and the law centre have been helping told me that his mandatory consideration. He’s beginning to gain confidence, mainly because he knows that he’s being supported, listened to, understood and respected. Being cruel certainly doesn’t encourage people does it.

 

We noticed a man walking around confused. He’d been told that he needs to provide proof of his address. Simple you might think, but it isn’t for many. People move homes, are homeless, have had to leave a property in a rush and are staying in temporary accommodation. Some people have chaotic lives, but it doesn’t mean that they should be punished for this, unfortunately, they are. There’s a massive lack of understanding not only from within the DWP but in all governmental and local governmental departments. Often the receptionists at these places can appear uncaring which doesn’t help.

 

Gordon and myself were stopped by a woman who I shall name Dot.

Dot is an older lady, her husband died in March and Dot is still grieving. She’s depressed and is finding life very difficult.

Dot is claiming the sickness (ESA) related element of universal credit and she’s struggling. She’s constantly worried and she’s being reminded that she’ll soon have to return to work.

Dot should be allowed to recover and grieve, but there’s no way that the DWP will allow this.

Dot’s future doesn’t look good thanks to this government.

 

I spoke to a man whom I shall name Jim.

Jim walked out of the Jobcentre looking confused, he’s an older chap.

Jim had spent three days trying to make an online claim for universal credit. Three days folks, because he was struggling with the system. In his words, he ‘doesn’t get along’ with computers and he was constantly being thrown off the website for one reason or another.

Jim went to see his advisor and he was told that he shouldn’t be making a claim for universal credit, he should be claiming ESA. He was told by a different advisor that he should apply for universal credit.

You can see why Jim is confused, can’t you? I can. Honestly how hard is it to ensure that you give the correct advice? Impossible I fear.

Does the DWP care about Jim? Not one bit.

 

I was stopped by a woman, she had been made redundant. She was told to go to the Jobcentre to start her universal credit claim. Simple you’d think. Nope. She told me that she was being sent to a different building to make her claim.

 

A rather frustrated man stormed out of the Jobcentre, he shouted ‘Theresa May is an old bag, shes horrible’. It’s hard to disagree with that, isn’t it?

 

I had a brief conversation with a man who told me that he’d been sanctioned for eight months. Yes, eight months. His reason for missing his appointment was that he had to help his father move into a nursing home out of the area. He provided evidence of this, he appealed and they refused his appeal. So he went without money for eight months.

I advised him on what he should do, but you might ask how does someone survive for eight months with no income. To put it bluntly many don’t. Many die, most are hungry and many lose their homes.

Sanctions and universal credit are two of the main reasons why people become homeless, but many are forgetting about sanctions and their impact on people, just like they are forgetting about the two-child limit, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the council tax supplement. I often feel that I’m a lone voice when talking about these issues because some have forgotten about them, many have accepted it as the norm.

 

I then had a conversation with a Kurdish man who had been temporarily employed by an agency. He didn’t understand that he had to make a new claim for universal credit and would have to wait for around five weeks or more for his claim to be processed.

The system is too complicated, it makes you financially worse off, combine this with a limited understanding of the English language and you’re certain to fail. Can I say that I hate this government?

 

Last but not least, I spoke to a woman who I shall name Jenny.

Jenny has been sanctioned. Jenny has children.

Jenny has been sanctioned because she didn’t see the message on her universal credit account to attend an appointment.

Jenny doesn’t have a computer, Jenny doesn’t know how to use a computer. Jenny struggles to access the places where she can use a computer.

Jenny is being punished because she can’t understand the system because she has a disability and the DWP don’t care.

We advised Jenny but for her and people like her, their future is very bleak. It’s ok for local governments and organisations to provide internet access locally, but it’s completely useless for someone without a computer, who doesn’t know how to use a computer and can’t afford one also. We need a paper system, one that everyone understands and we should also be campaigning for this.

 

This all happened over two hours and we do this every week. We work hard helping people in cold and often with abuse from passers-by. I can’t thank everyone that comes along to help enough. You’re all amazing, you keep me going especially when I feel fed up like I do now. The work that we do is much needed and has become essential.

 

Thank you to everyone that reads, shares and supports my blog. I receive no funding for this and any donation however small will be most welcome and put to good use. Thank you to everyone that has supported my blog. Thank you.

We’ll be back next week and every week.

 

 

 

 

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Failed PIP assessment, wrongfully forced onto universal credit, now £250 a month worse off. It’s getting worse.

What can I say except that today was dire, the weather was awful and it appears that winter has set in now.

Today we were joined by a new member, Glynn and also the gang from Rochdale and Stockport. This cheered me up immensely because last week I was very despondent and was wondering if I should continue with the campaign. It’s hard work, and I do have weeks like this. Anyway, blip over and onward I shall continue.

Just to make it clear we handed out five food parcels and offered help, advice, leaflets and signposting to everyone that we spoke to today. No one left without receiving any help. We also helped out with things such as bus fares and other issues.

 

I arrived at ten on the dot and was almost immediately met by Gordon and then Glynn. A few people were waiting for food parcels and I had a chat with a fella that’s trying to overcome several issues. I like our conversations and he’s looking a bit better, to be honest, I’d worry if I didn’t see him.

We unloaded the food parcels and settled into our morning.

 

I first noticed a young man walking out of the Jobcentre shouting ‘Universal credit is a ball ache and they are all a bunch of w*****s’. He didn’t stop to talk but I guessed that he was unhappy. He obviously isn’t feeling supported by the system like  Theresa May keeps spouting out the lie that everyone is supported. Absolute rubbish, its survival of the fittest nothing more.

 

A young man caught my eye, he was walking out of the Jobcentre wearing very thin clothing totally unsuitable for this weather. I asked him how things were going, he told me that he was only just coping.

He’s in receipt of universal credit and had to wait around five weeks for his first payment. In the meantime, he had to apply for loans from the DWP to pay his rent so he now has to pay that back out of his monthly payment.

He expressed his concern that whilst his repayments are £20 a month, he knows people that are having to pay back their loans at a much higher rate, and he wanted to know what there isn’t an official set repayment scheme that’s low enough to enable people to survive. He’s still reliant upon food parcels to survive because he has to contribute towards his rent.

He asked a good question, there should be a low, set payment programme in place and not a random one that makes it impossible to live. Maybe there is, but its rarely enforced not unusual for this farce of a system.

 

A man walked out of the Jobcentre and I asked him if he was ok, he looked at me and said ‘same old crap’ and walked off.

 

I then spoke to a fella whom I shall name Brian. Brians an older chap and has been thrust into this system by no fault of his own.

Brian is in receipt of a small private pension and was claiming JSA (Jobseekers allowance). He had £6 taken from his JSA because of his pension.

Brian was visited by a member of staff from a local housing association and was told by them that he had to immediately stop claiming JSA and make a claim for universal credit otherwise his rent wouldn’t be paid.

They were wrong. Brian could and should have stayed on JSA until the DWP transferred him, they should never have told him this. So thanks to their wrong advice Brian is now £250 a month worse off. He’s an older chap, he’s struggling and all because his landlord decided to get greedy and demand that he move onto universal credit.

Brians an older man who was brought up in another time, a time when you could trust people and were looked after. Brian isn’t to blame for this, the blame lies at the housing associations feet.

I’ve spoken about this before, one week we had about five or six people stop us and tell us that they had been told this also. I’ve also had neighbours knock on my door telling me the same thing, so I know it to be true.

We are taking further action on this though. They shouldn’t be lying to people like this, they are responsible for the suffering of people and we can’t allow this to go unchecked. This housing association recently merged with another organisation and have kicked all of the local councillors off their board and as a result appear to be doing whatever they want. Rumour has it that they aren’t good employers and they aren’t as supportive to tenants as they could be.

 

We were then introduced to another older man whom I shall name Terry.

Terry had worked all of his adult life until he became ill, he was proud of working and smiled when he spoke of his younger days. Terry is a lovely man that deserves much better than what he told us.

Terry had to go for his PIP assessment, he’s new to this and the system confuses him. They asked him the usual questions and he left the assessment thinking that he’d be ok.

Terry was wrong, in fact, he couldn’t be more wrong. He failed the examination on the basis that he hadn’t had a fit in his kitchen and he looked too smart.

Terry assured us that he wasn’t dressed too smart, he isn’t well off and was wearing the same clothes that he wears every day. And as for not fitting in the kitchen, that’s ridiculous. Like he says he can’t predict where and when he will have a fit. It’s ridiculous.

Terry is appealing this decision, he’s angry that he’s being treated in this manner. Terry is also an older man whose health is failing and is especially vulnerable.

The government doesn’t give a toss about Terry, they just want him off the unemployment statistics and will do so by any means possible, especially by employing people to lie like this.

 

I heard a conversation behind me so turned round to join in. Here’s a rundown of the conversation. I’ll name the person concerned Paul. Paul is also an older man.

Paul has always worked and is proud of this.

Paul became ill with diabetes and lost his leg and toes.

Paul feels like he’s always being scrutinised by the DWP. They keep sending him to medical assessments etc.

Paul hasn’t got a clue how the system works.

Paul is terrified of being moved onto universal credit.

Paul says it’s not fair and they shouldn’t be doing this to him. Paul is correct, but thankfully Paul now knows that we are thinking about him and he can chat to us whenever he wants to.

Paul is just another statistic and this makes me angry.

 

We all need to fight in our own way for people like the above if you’re not in a position similar to theirs you could be in the future. Say hello to your neighbour, to the stranger in the street. That can make a massive difference.

 

We spoke to lots of other people, and we helped lots of people.

We also helped a homeless man reach his next destination for a nights sleep. He speaks poor English but doesn’t have an address so therefore has no money. He was sent to another town to get a bed for the night, but what he clearly needs is a translator and support. I can’t imagine how scared he might be. He’s aware of local organisations but has to go where there’s a bed. What an awful life

 

This made us smile, someone left us a calling card. Thank you! We love it.

BTW if one of my readers left this sticker, please email me I wouldn’t mind some. Thanks.

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We don’t receive any funding for the work that we do, nor do I receive any funding for the blog etc. If anyone would like to donate there’s a button above and to the side. I would be very grateful, and a massive thank you to everyone that has supported my blog and also to everyone that reads and shares my blog. Thank you!!

In the past week, I’ve been on Granada Reports, Talk Radio, filmed with RT News and have been interviewed for a magazine. None of which are paid, but it’s important to get the word out there. The campaign certainly doesn’t finish on Thursday afternoons.

 

Sixty-year-old man proclaimed fit for work despite having a stroke. The DWP have destroyed me.

Dear readers, I found it particularly hard this week, not only because it was freezing cold but I think its one of those weeks when the enormity of the situation hits me like a brick. This happens every now and then because I’m all too aware of the situation, of our situation.

Anyway, enough about me, you probably aren’t here to hear about me. The weather was very cold and we were ill prepared for this sudden onslaught of winter weather. I had left my home after forgetting my telephone also. Not a good start to the day.

The Queue had already formed for the food parcels, all given to people either working and claiming Universal Credit or being shifted over to Universal Credit from another benefit. They had no choice but to take out a loan from the DWP which is now making their universal credit payments incredibly small, usually unmanageable.

It did appear to be a bit quieter than normal, but we also see this a lot. Some weeks are busier than others, but the problems are still life changing.

 

The first thing that I noticed upon arriving at the Jobcentre was the number of staff and security guards at the front desk. They may have put up a reflective screen to prevent us from seeing inside but I can still catch glimpses from the outside. It’s a tad excessive and is very intimidating upon walking into the building. There’s just no need for it. It’s simply to remind us of where we stand in the situation, an enemy, someone to take the pee out of, to abuse.

 

As Gordon passed me the food parcels I was handing them out to people, many of whom are hungry. When claiming universal credit it’s impossible to pay your bills and buy food, gas and electric at the same time. Food parcels keep people going, they keep people alive. Instead of condemning their use, the government actually love them. They take the problem out of their hands. As a nation, we should be constantly challenging the government about their use, many of us already are. Please join us in doing so.

 

I was stopped by a man walking out of the Jobcentre. Clutching a folded piece of paper he told me that he had been without money for months. He needed food and advice. We provided both happily.

 

A man then stopped me and told me his story. He had been released from prison not long ago and was told to go to the Jobcentre to claim universal credit. He did just that and he got an advance loan from them to tide him over. Out of that, he had to pay his rent and other expenses so now he’s left with nothing, yet despite struggling he’s very proud that he’s managing to stay on the straight and narrow “It’s almost as if they’re trying to send me back inside”. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

Another man stopped me and told me of his plight. He’s receiving his universal credit payments, he has to put towards his rent, he has to pay his bills, buy food etc. He’d taken an advance loan out whilst awaiting his universal credit payments which he now has to pay back at £30 a month. He also has to pay a debt that he was paying back whilst claiming his previous benefit at almost £30 a month, so he’s £60 down already.

Yes, people are expected to live like this because they just don’t care.

 

We then spoke to a young man desperately trying to make a good life for himself. He had lost his job and then subsequently lost his home and had become homeless. He’s not living on the street but instead was a sofa surfer until finding accommodation.

He honestly couldn’t try any harder than he is doing now. He dresses smart and is always looking for work, he would be a credit to any employer. However finding suitable employment is proving to be impossible because he’s got an unspent criminal conviction, that happened when he got when like he said ‘was having a bad patch’. His speciality of work is in finance.

Poor fella, trying his best and getting constant knockbacks. The only employment that he can find is fairly rubbish agency work. In reality, he’s most likely going to have to live like this until his conviction is spent, and he really does regret it. Magic wand anyone?

He told me that he feels so much pressure from the DWP and other organisations that it’s hard to stay focused at times but he wants to improve his life.

 

I spoke to an older man who told me quickly that the DWP have destroyed his life. He then walked off.

 

It was then when we noticed an older chap walking out from the Jobcentre clutching a piece of paper whilst looking confused. I asked him if we could help, he then told me his story.

He’s 60 years of age, in poor health and is recovering from a stroke. He’s also prone to getting more strokes. He was claiming ESA but he was declared fit for work at Albert Bridge house. To be brutally honest he didn’t have a clue about what he had to.

This gentleman was brought up in what seems now was a totally different world. A world where people were respected, elders were acknowledged and also respected and everyone was looked after. Now, he’s left with nothing, computer-like sentences uttered by people that are supposed to help him but don’t.

Can you imagine feeling this lost? It must be a truly awful feeling. We advised him, signposted him and showed him compassion.

 

We spoke to a woman that has just found a job totally independent from the Jobcentre. We were so happy for her, her life will now begin again.

 

We advised a woman to go and see the local council about a housing benefit enquiry. Universal credit is making her so skint that she’s struggling to cope.

 

Not long afterwards we spoke to a young man who had been made homeless but had totally changed his life around all by himself. He told us that this was because of his strong personality, he knew that he had to survive. He had also never become involved with drugs or drink. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he’s totally inspirational. a credit to his family and I’ll never forget our conversation.

 

So here we have it, another week and more awful stories. We left half an hour early due to being freezing cold and ill-prepared (we were freezing) and I had ran out of electric so had to return home to ensure that my daughter wasn’t freezing cold. You know the score, this happens to many of my readers.

 

We helped and signposted everyone that we spoke to. We offered words of hope and comfort, we fed people and gave them hope and we will return next week to do the same thing.

 

Please read, share talk about and email my blog.

Many thanks to all my readers and supporters of my blog I thank  you all because you keep me going.

We don’t receive any funding for the work that we do, nor do I receive anything for writing my blog. I do this all on an extremely low budget. If anyone would like to donate please click on the donate button above and on the sidebar. Any donations would enable me to carry on with this work, and continue with the blog. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to kill myself last month, they’re going to stop my money, I don’t know what to do.

Dear readers it’s Thursday again, it comes around far too quickly. Today the weather was very cold and rainy, I’ll have to dig out my thermals for next week.

Today we were joined by members of Glossop Labour club, and a local councillor. Everyone got stuck right in and no one left without receiving help, advice, a copy of our leaflets and a food parcel if needed. We had our usual food parcels and the gang from Glossop brought up some extras. All went extremely quickly most likely because it’s the end of the month and most people are without money awaiting their universal credit payment next month.

It never gets any easier, seeing people struggle like they do, yet these people are the kindest people that you could ever meet. The government might want to take everything away from them but they can’t take away their kindness and understanding.

Jenny was the first person that I spoke to this week. She arrived with her boyfriend whom she doesn’t live with. She can’t tell the DWP that she has a boyfriend because they will accuse her of cohabiting when she isn’t. They’ve done this to her before and I know that this is fairly commonplace.

Jenny asked for a food parcel and started to talk to me. She told me that she had been in the hospital because she attempted to commit suicide.

She told me that ‘Enough is enough, I couldn’t attend my ESA assessment because my anxiety was high, I just couldn’t cope. I forgot that I had a medical assessment and I telephoned them as soon as I remembered. They didn’t issue a new appointment though, they just sent me a form to fill in and I was scared that they are going to stop my money. So I thought that I’d be better off dead because without my payments I can’t cope.’

Luckily she received medical help but is still living in fear that she won’t receive her payment. The reality is that she won’t either. From my experience, they usually offer a new appointment upon phoning them. If this is the case then I will help her to appeal this etc.

But ask yourself this. Why is this happening? Why are thousands upon thousands of disabled people forced to attend these farces of a medical assessment, when a doctors or consultants letter should be enough?

It’s all about punishing disabled people and unemployed people. The government see them all as an unwanted burden, they’d rather that we weren’t here at all. So they literally starve us into submission and set a cruel regime that purely punishes and degrades a person to such a level that they will agree to anything that the government asks them to do.

The DWP are their foot soldiers, doing their dirty work for them. Not happy with that the government then offer to fund to struggling charities that always come with a gagging order. Take, for example, their latest victim Citizens Advice which will now also be enabling the government to roll out the next phase of Universal Credit. They should be opposing it.

The government are cruel, callous and care not one bit about the heartache, struggle and deaths that they cause. Don’t forget this.

Bill then stopped to chat with me. He had recently failed his ESA medical and not knowing that he can appeal they shifted him onto universal credit.

There’s a problem though. Bill can’t use a computer, he’s dyslexic and has never used a computer in his life. He also doesn’t have a mobile phone, he can’t afford one. These are the essentials when making an application for universal credit, so he’s stuck at the first hurdle.

Bill also has heart and circulation problems, his health is poor hence his previous claim for ESA. But Bill is expected to continue down the universal credit path, which he could fail because the odds of him succeeding aren’t good.

I spoke to a homeless chap that had to go into the Jobcentre to collect a form. Simple enough you’d think. But no, he was told that he had to travel to Hyde Jobcentre to collect it. Think about it, he’s homeless, living in a tent and has no money so he has to walk.

I offered him some bus fare but he told me that he would walk, so walk he did. I hope that Hyde Jobcentre didn’t turn him away as well. It’s a long way to walk for anyone, especially someone that’s hungry and cold, and it was freezing today.

I also spoke to his representative from Shelter and he uttered his frustration that the work that needs to be done in the Greater Manchester area isn’t being authorised as quickly as it should be. Shelter and other organisations desperately want to house people before the winter sets in.

I spoke to Cath who was hoping to claim ESA. She has serious health problems but in my area the odds against this happening are high.

John stopped me for a chat. John is homeless but is receiving assistance from Shelter and a local organisation. He’s extremely confused as to what benefit he is receiving etc and without representation, it would be quite honestly a disaster. Thankfully he has assistance.

Having no idea of what benefit that a person is claiming is a massive problem. I have to try and describe a benefit in ways such as this, universal credit is the one that you have to go without money for at least five weeks’ etc. The system is so complex that they haven’t got a clue and it’s a massive problem that few have the time to address.

We then all gasped when we noticed a man with both legs heavily bandaged whilst using a wheelchair enter the Jobcentre. He was obviously there for an appointment because he was in there for a while.

This is about as bad as it gets. The government deliberately no notice of his disability and still demands that he attends the Jobcentre. He couldn’t even open the doors Gordon helped him.

Janet then had a chat with Roy. Janet has two children and after all the deductions to her benefits, she’s left with £50 a week to feed herself and her two children. Janet also has to pay £75 a month top up for her rent. Janet did apply for a DHP but has been refused because the council changing are the goalposts so to speak because the council are short of funding.

So the likelihood of Janet and her children becoming homeless are high. Janet also has complex needs that can’t be addressed in temporary accommodation. Her future is looking very bleak.

We did speak to many more people and offered them help and advice. I also offered to accompany someone to an ESA assessment and I’m also helping other people this week.

The campaign doesn’t stop when we leave. I work extremely hard on pushing the need to stop and scrap universal credit, and I also work hard raising awareness of all the issues that we encounter.

However, it does feel that both myself and other campaigners are on our own with this. We try extremely hard to raise awareness but the Labour Party are yet to make a concrete decision and are flip-flopping around indecisively whilst the rest of us are looking for their support.

We are awaiting a positive decision from the Labour party.

For anyone interested, I’m on Sky News tomorrow via Skpe at 15.45, 3.45pm talking about universal credit. It will be aired four hours later on YouTube. I’ll post a link under ‘media’ above.

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog and our campaign. Please read, share, email my blog etc.

Huge thanks to my fellow campaigners, activists, bloggers, journalists etc for all the hard work that you do.

We will be back next week, but wearing thermals!

I write my blog on an extremely low budget and I’m not paid for this or the campaign work that I do. Any donation, no matter how small will help me to continue with my work and it really is appreciated. Thank you!

How to stay warmer this winter.

This is a condensed version of my Twitter thread that @threadreader condensed for me. Most questions have already been answered on Twitter.

THREAD.
Ok, as friends will know I live a very frugal life and need to save money whenever possible. Here’s some cheap tips to prepare your home for winter.

1. Check your windows and doors for any gaps that need to be filled. Don’t fill essential air vents though. Use filler, newspaper, rags or anything that you can find. If in rented accommodation report any repairs that need doing.

Bubble wrap is your friend here. Yes I hate plastic but I reuse my pieces every year. Cut pieces of bubble wrap to the size of your windows, spray the window with water and place the bubble wrap on the window flat side down.

You can use cling film, but I don’t find it as effective.

Who cares what it looks like you will be warmer.

If you have any kitchen foil and cardboard, measure a piece of cardboard to the size of the back of your radiators. Stick some foil onto it and place behind radiator. Foil reflects the heat back into your home. You can buy silver insulation rolls from Lidl etc for £5

These are easier to use but £5 is a lot of money. Same method applies. The heat is then drawn into your home instead of into the brick and then outside.

Make one of these. I use one every year in my living room, for larger rooms you need more than one. Use unpainted ceramic plant pots and unscented tea lights only. There’s plenty of tutorials on YouTube

They don’t cause carbon monoxide poisoning, but as with any use of candles be safety aware and have adequate ventilation in your room. They do bring the temperature of your room up by a few degrees.

I place mine on a baking tray and use a loaf tin. These are a life saver for me.

Wear layers. Layers are much better than a really thick jumper. You can take a layer off if too hot and it’s much more comfy.

When it gets really cold don’t be afraid of wearing a hat and gloves indoors. You loose a massive amount of heat through your head. I wear fingerless gloves they work best for me.

If you can, use a hot water bottle to keep warm and bring a blanket downstairs. Keep doors shut and use something at the bottom of your doors to keep the heat in

If you can put up a door curtain on your outside doors and living room doors. I need to do this this year because they really help to keep the heat in.

Use a blanket downstairs an encourage any children to do the same.

Fill a flask of hot water or tea or coffee to drink throughout the day. This will save boiling a kettle or pan and saves money. A good tip all year round tbh

If you have a dryer or an oven, use these for heating whilst they are in use. I always do this. I open the oven door once I’ve finished with it to let the heat out. Obviously you can’t do this if there are little children around.

Keep your feet covered and if possible dress for the weather. Not always easy I know. Snuggling up to a dog or cat helps as well

Use thick curtains in winter and keep them shut as often as possible. I know that many of us can’t afford thick curtains but this does help.

If you can eat warm foods. This is very hard I know as food, gas and electric is scarce. If you have friends and family local sit together. I do this.

If you can’t keep warm at home and need to save money on electric, if you can visit your local library, if you’ve got one a local Ikea. Free brews and WiFi at IKEA if you join up to their friends and family scheme. Ikea is my winter office.

Try and cook one pot meals. Saves in energy. @BootstrapCook has plenty of amazing recipes that you can access. If you can cook extra so it lasts a couple of days. This will save energy.

For example a bean spag Bol can be made into a chilli the next day. If you can cook veggie stews, soups, corned beef hash without the corned beef. It’ll last a few days

Use one room during the day, heat that one room. You can heat bedrooms for half a hour before bedtime. That’s if you can afford to do this.

Here’s the film we made last yearhttps://youtu.be/Y9h3VSYVIn0

I also make my own washing powder and I’m going to attempt soap again this year.

I’d love to try a sun oven but atm they are too expensive and are only on sale in the USA.

Roll out of new DWP computer system causes confusion and worry. Universal Credit destroys life’s.

Dear readers, it’s Thursday again so here’s this weeks blog. I hope that you are all ok, I do think about you all and wonder how you are coping. I wish that I had a magic wand to stop this madness, but there isn’t one and I shall continue campaigning against the government’s abhorrent treatment of the poor and disabled. I’ll also continue to document what I can also.

I’ll document today’s conversations, as usual, please note that everyone was signposted to relevant organisations, help advice and survival guides were handed out. We also gave food parcels to those in need.  Also, my words can’t express the intensity of the two hours that we are outside the Jobcentre. We have to deal with so many different issues and often at a fast pace.

Also a massive thank you to everyone for that came along to help today and helped, I appreciate the hard work that you do thank you all so much.

 

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre is now introducing the new computer system, which also coincides with the next phase of the Universal Credit rollout which is well under way now. This is causing a lot of confusion, and because of this it also demands that claimants also provide proof of their identity again. Of course, the DWP system won’t take into account the fact that they have already done so. Most of the people that I spoke to today don’t have photo ID, and nor do they have the money to get this. Also, people’s circumstances change and they might not have access to the proof of ID that they had already shown. You’ll read of a few conversations that I had with people regarding this.

 

It always breaks my heart when I see vulnerable people forced into having to go into the Jobcentre in the attempt to get some help. Here is one such case, I’ll call her Mary.

Mary approached the Jobcentre struggling to walk whilst using two crutches. She is an older lady who is in constant pain. Her husband is working but they need to make a claim for some help because she can no longer work. In an ideal world, there would be a fact sheet that tells a person what they can claim, what ID they need and how to do it. There isn’t though, so she was sent home none the wiser. However, she was told that she needs to provide proof of ID. So now she has to go home and return.

So a disabled woman is forced to make an arduous journey to provide ID. Whilst I appreciate the need to prove who you are they could make it a bit easier.

 

A woman with children asked me for a food parcel. She’s now receiving her Universal Credit payments after a long wait, but out of her first payment she’s had to pay all of the bills that she owed, so she’s left with nothing. What can I say except that it’s unacceptable that people are put into this situation. Claiming Universal Credit has plunged her into the pits of poverty and I doubt that she will be able to climb out for a long time if ever.

 

I spoke to a lovely gentleman that told me that he had been declared fit for work when he obviously isn’t. He also told me that they were trying to move him over to Universal Credit. Just what he doesn’t need.

 

Not long after I spoke to a woman whom I shall name Sharon. Sharon was visibly distressed, and this reflected in our conversation. Sharon went on to tell me of her experience of Universal Credit saying “People don’t know what they are getting themselves into, they don’t know what they are entitled to either. I can’t cope with this system, it’s crippling me to the point that I don’t know how I can continue. I’m relying on food banks and the goodwill of friends but that won’t last forever.”

Sharon also went onto say that she felt that it was the last straw for her to be asked to bring in proof of her ID again, shes already done it before so why should she have to do it again was her point.

Sharon doesn’t deserve to be treated in this manner but there are thousands and thousands of Sharon’s out there. Universal Credit doesn’t help people, instead, it hinders them from being able to improve their lives.

When a person can’t find all the ID that’s required they won’t allow a person to receive their payments, even though they have already provided this Id. No proof of ID, no payments. It’s a good way for the DWP to knock people off the system, to lower the unemployment figures.

I also take issue with a system that’s also controlled by a computer system. Computers make mistakes, especially DWP computer systems. You can’t talk to a computer system nor can you rely on them to be fully accurate. This new system might have the ability to decide that a person isn’t fulfilling their job search requirements even if they are, not everyone has access to a computer etc. I’m extremely dubious about this, and to be honest I haven’t got a lot of faith in it.

 

I had a conversation with a man that claims universal credit and who also works for an agency on a zero hour contract. He told me that it’s extremely hard for him to cope, he has to constantly reapply for universal credit, thus waiting for around six weeks for a payment, only to be thrown off it again because he actually got paid. He’s also been asked to provide new ID and he was struggling to find some.

As Roy said ‘People don’t find work they find another form of slavery’.

 

I advised a man on how to claim ESA.

 

I spoke to a man that needed advice regarding an ESA tribunal for a friend.

 

Roy had a conversation with a man who was telling him his experience of his ESA assessment. Upon showing the assessor his medicines the assessor asked him if his doctor knew that he was taking these medicines. Of course, the doctor does, they prescribed them. Yep. Really.

 

Here’s Kevin’s situation, typical of many.

Kevin applied for universal credit because he was advised to.

Kevin was given an initial universal credit payment.

Kevin was informed that he now needed to claim ESA.

Kevin does this but now has to pay back the initial payment.

Kevin hasn’t received a penny since the 22nd of May.

Kevin is angry, upset and is hungry.

We advised Kevin and signposted him to local organisations that will help.

 

 

I had a conversation with a woman that I’ll name Janet.

Janet had to wait weeks for her first universal credit payment, she now owes rent and she has to pay the bedroom tax and a portion of her council tax.

Janet told me that she receives £100 a fortnight. Her housing association are demanding that she pays the rent that she’s owed at the rate of £50 a week. Yes £50 a week. The housing association don’t care that she will be struggling. She’s devastated.

Janet is 60 years old and will be living in abject poverty until she’s finally able to retire. Janet deserves better than this.

 

I spoke to a man that was unsure of what he could claim and how to do it. I advised hom upon this and signposted him to all relevant organisations.

 

Lastly, I spoke to a scared young man. I say scared because he walked away crying. He spoke only French and he went into the Jobcentre for advice, most likely he had been told to go there. The Jobcentre refused to use their translation service and he didn’t know what to do, so we advised him using google translate on our phones and we signposted him. Many thanks to my colleague for this help.

Why didn’t they use the translation service? Can you imagine how scared he must have been? My heart went out to him and to everyone else in the same situation.

 

So this all happened within two hours, we helped lots of people and we will continue to do so.

 

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Many thanks to everyone already supporting my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son doesn’t have enough money to survive. I’m over £300 worse off a month whilst working and on Universal credit.

Dear readers, I’m sorry about the lateness of this blog, yesterday was extremely busy and I returned home late, then had to go to parent’s evening that appeared to go on forever. Things have changed so much since my oldest children were at secondary school, it certainly felt more corporate than it used to and buzzwords were being flown around by the head teacher at great speed.

Anyway, I digress, it was a busy day outside Ashton Jobcentre. It started off very quietly but became very busy. So many people are suffering and it breaks my heart. I try to keep a brave face but it’s damn hard when you know that people are upset, hungry and haven’t got a clue what to do. They certainly aren’t in any position to be able to make things better either, their life’s are controlled by the DWP. Can you imagine having to live like this? I realize that many of my readers are in this position and fully understand what I’m talking about. It’s a culture of fear, the survival of the fittest but even the fittest become ill and many die as a result of the DWPs cruel regime.

Make no mistake, the government are aware of this, but intend to do nothing to help either. They like the system, it serves them well. Creating poverty and suffering should be their moto and they mock us when they create positions such as ‘Minister for suicide’ etc. They cause the suffering and deaths, they are intent on continuing whilst also taking away funding from much needed services that could and do save life’s.

Please note that EVERYONE that we spoke to received the help and advice that they needed, everyone was handed a leaflet or two and no one left us unaided in some way.

 

I’ll list yesterdays conversations, its easier that way.

 

The food parcels went within 10 minutes, and I’m certain that there will be a bigger need for them as the winter weather draws in and more people are transferred over to Universal Credit.  It’s apparently going to be a bad winter, which in itself will bring it’s own problems such as warmth, clothing and shelter. People are hungry, many with children. What sort of a government do we live under that allows such things? A cruel, heartless corrupt government that cares nothing about human life except their own.

 

I said hello to a couple of men that I speak to every week, lovely men just trying to survive under difficult circumstances. They make my week, yet some would pass them by without a second thought because their poverty is apparent. Never judge anyone by their appearance, it’s wrong to do so.

 

I was then approached by a man that I spoke to last week, I mentioned his details in last weeks blog. He wanted to update me about his situation and he appeared to be a bit happier. He told me that he had contacted Greater Manchester Law Centre like I had advised and he was overjoyed with the help that they have and will be giving him. Saying that they couldn’t do enough to help him, and they’ve told him that they are hoping for a very positive outcome for his situation.

To put it simply, he’s been given hope, he felt that they cared, he feels valued and they will fight his corner for him and will go out of their way to do so. This my friends, makes all the difference and I’m hoping for some more good news from him next week.

Greater Manchester Law Centre you are simply brilliant and I can’t thank you enough for the hard work that you all do.

 

Not long afterwards I had a conversation with a politics graduate. She has been advised by the DWP to find a job stacking shelves. Whilst this is far from unusual, it does however reflect the lack of respect and understanding that the DWP have for education and real job searching. They haven’t got a clue, its all about punishing people. I mean how dare a graduate ask for help…. That’s how the DWP see it.

 

A polish man stopped me and asked for a leaflet. He’s been living and working in the UK for seven years, but has recently had an accident. His arm was in a sling and he was struggling with understanding the DWP system. This concerned me, because the DWP don’t have a good track record of being nice or honest  to people like this gentleman and I referred him to local services and the law centre for further help.

 

I then noticed an older lady walking out of the Jobcentre bemused, confused and more than a bit unhappy. I asked her if I could help and she told me her situation. She fits into the category of being a WASPI woman, who ideally should be retired but is unable to do so. She’s ill, disabled and is claiming ESA and has been placed in the support group. She had attended an appointment at the Jobcentre only to be told that she needs to find work. They lied to her, no she doesn’t, she’s in the support group. They also told her that they are going to be keeping an eye on her and want to see her again in six weeks.

Not only have they lied to her, they are now in effect bullying her. I explained her legal rights to her and informed her that she could really do with taking a witness in with her for this future meeting.

So the DWP are bullying an older lady. They don’t care, not one bit.

 

I handed a leaflet to a young woman with children. She claims Universal Credit but is struggling to cope. I advised her to the best of my ability.

 

I then had a conversation with an elderly lady, she appeared to be distressed so I asked her if I could help. She told me that her son is claiming Universal Credit, but she is also having to constantly help her son out with money and food.

She told me that out of her small pension she has to help him daily because after her son’s rent has been paid and the money has been deducted from his Universal Credit payment he’s left with almost anything and he doesn’t have enough money to survive.

She went on to say that people can’t survive like this, how are they expected to live? She’s also worried that she can’t keep on helping him because she can’t afford to. It’s plunging them both into poverty and their health is suffering.

So a poor elderly woman is expected to provide for her son, yep. This is reality folks Universal Credit isn’t working.

 

I was then stopped by a man who was visibly  frustrated and hungry. He hasn’t had a Universal Credit payment system since July. We are now in October. He had been migrated over onto Universal Credit after failing his ESA medical. He told me that his health was declining and he has lost over one and a half stones in weight.

Yes he’s lost one and a half stones in weight. He’s also disabled.

He showed me his paperwork and the DWP are giving him the runaround. Why? Most likely because not one department communicates with another, they don’t communicate effectively with claimants and because they can do. So they’ve left a disabled man in this situation. I referred him to the law centre and other local services,  he promised that he would be contacting them.

 

Gordon then asked me to talk to a young lady, she looked frustrated so I asked her if I could help her. Here’s her situation.

She works part time, she’s been moved over to Universal Credit and is now £310 a month worse off than she was when she was previously claiming working tax credits. She also has children to look after, bills to pay etc.

When she approached the Jobcentre asking for help she was told that she shouldn’t complain because there are people more worse off than her. Yep you heard it right, she shouldn’t complain.

I believe that she should complain, because now both herself and her children are living in poverty, poverty caused by being forced to claim Universal credit. She was much better off whilst claiming working tax credits, and she can’t understand why the government have been allowed to take all this money off people and get away with it.

Once again this shows that work does not pay whilst claiming universal credit, the only thing that universal credit does do is create poverty, suffering and the deaths of thousands of people.

A message for the G4S security guard that is intent on continually staring at us in an intimidating manner whilst thinking that we can’t see you, we can. So stop it. We’ve made official complaints about you before and we will do this again.

A massive thank you to everyone that came along today I really do appreciate it.

 

So here we have it, another Thursday but this is replicated day in day out throughout the country. I do realize that we are further on with the rollout because we were a pilot area, but take note this is coming your way.

 

 

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