Failed ESA assessments, I wish that I could destroy that building it’s hell in there. Welcome to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre..

You know that it’s been over four years since we started the weekly demos and you would have thought that things would have got better, problems would be ironed out they said… It pays to work… The lies were constant, they still are and the problems haven’t been ironed out. They’ve become much worse.

I sometimes wonder how much crap the government will continue to give us, how much more will people have to suffer. The government are certainly relentless in their persecution of the poor and this isn’t going to change soon.


Today was another cold morning and more snow has been predicted, its been a very long winter and shows no signs of ending. Anyway I packed my bag as usual and set off to help people.


I started really early this morning because I stopped to help a chap whom I can’t discuss on here. His problems are very serious and I did my best to help and have other local organisations. They can only do so much, and the police are really stretched by a lack of funding. They do their best though. I hope that he is OK and his words will haunt me tonight. Life isn’t supposed to be all about suffering but for some it is.


I arrived at the Jobcentre and helped to get the food parcels out of the car. Some went straight away for various reasons, all had gone by the end of the demo. We shouldnt have to feed people like this, but the government nor the DWP cares nothing for them. Trying to persuade people that people like us do care can be very hard work at times. People are used to being shoved to one side like yesterday’s newspaper.

A lady rushed into the Jobcentre worried that she would be late for an appointment as did a man. Both had their heads down and looked unhappy. They probably are unhappy, I don’t know anyone who is happy whilst claiming Universal Credit.


We spoke to two young girls both in Foster care. They are 17 and both told me that they might have to leave their accommodation soon. The law states that they should be 18, but they often encourage them to leave earlier.

My heart went out to them, one was carrying her worldly possessions in her bag and both are trying to navigate the whole DWP system. It’s awful and these young women deserve so much more than this. They can’t see any opportunities in life, whilst others appear to have so much more more opportunity. The class divide certainly exists doesn’t it.


I spoke to a man who had failed his ESA and is now fighting to get it reinstated. He’s doing his best and he’s a lovely chap but he shouldn’t be struggling like this. He also has to walk miles to Ashton Jobcentre because his local Jobcentre has now shut down. He told me that he wished that someone could destroy the Jobcentre because they have been awful to him.


I saw several young people constantly walking in and out of the Jobcentre for being a few minutes too early. This is the norm but they should let them sit inside.


I spoke to lots of people, paid a visit to the local ADS down the road, signposted many people, gave people hugs, fed them and gave them hope. I’m tired, but if we wernt there then these people would fall between the lines and become lost. I will do everything thug I can to prevent another suicide, admission to hospital etc. Ive seen too many people suffering like this and whilst they have a voice they aren’t heard for the best part of the time.

I have hope that things will change one day but for as long as we have universal credit I fear that we or I will still have to be there to help people.

Love to you all, and thank you for reading. Also massive thanks to Gordon and Roy for braving the cold weather and for putting up with me.

Thank you so much to everyone who reads and supports my blog it means the world to me and I will catch up with my emails ASAP, I’ve been very busy with trying to keep the campaign going and being a single mum. I won’t lie it’s hard but its worth the difficulty. If we make a difference to one person’s life then thats a job well done in my eyes and I shall continue to hold this government to account for their cruelty. img_1701-1



Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!



Full Universal Credit roll out, man sat outside Jobcentre for over 2 hours in awful weather, rude staff member and rude passer by. Will it ever end?

I’m so sorry that the blog is once again late this week, Ive been extremley busy and fell behind due to being unwell late last week and not feeling well again until Tuesday this week. I shouldn’t complain because there are people far more worse off than myself as I know.


I was so glad that we didn’t have a repeat of the awful stormy, snowy weather last week. It was deadly for some and so far there could be an estimated 2,000 people that have died as a result of this very long cold spell this winter. Fuel prices have gone up, benefits cut or taken away, the benefit cap taking away money that would have been previously used for heating homes also taken away, the list is so long and I could go on for ever.


Last week, myself and others campaigned on Twitter for the DWP to issue an official statement for claimants to state that they didn’t have to attend their appointments at the Jobcentre because of the weather. They issued a statement at 6.30pm, which was far too late for many. Indeed I spoke to a man today that walked miles in the storm, cold and snow in thin clothing to attend his appointment. He hadn’t been informed that he didn’t have to attend, so in fear of being sanctioned he waited outside in the cold for over two hours. For gods sake he could have become ill or die from hypothermia. Where is the humanity? I know that some DWP staff members care, but some don’t and there lieth the problem. They need to improve their notification service and the DWP also needs to start responding to requests. Getting information from them is like getting water from a stone.


Today was very cold again and we had been threatened with snow, I was not impressed with the thought of more snow but thankfully we were spared, instead we got sleet and rain. A total nightmare for our local homeless comunity.


As Gordon and myself were taking the food parcels out from the boot of his car I was approached by a young lad. He was visibly upset. He was carrying his worldly belongings in a large Ikea bag and a carrier bag. He started crying and told me that he had just become street homeless. My heart went out to him, he was very young, vulnerable and needed help urgently. I signposted him to the local housing office, he came back and then went to our local homeless organisation.

He had also gone inside the Jobcentre to ask for help, but instead they gave him the usual piece of paper with a number on it and told him to phone a number despite him telling them that he had no phone.

He was so lovely, at the start of his adult life and to him it must have felt like the end of the road. There is no real reliable safety net for young people like this man, the government relies on every young person to have a family that will support them and access to technology. This isn’t a reality though is is, many people have no family support etc and there is no safety net anymore. I really hope that he is ok tonight I’m very worried about him.



Today we had a visit from Sky News who are making a programme about DWP related issues, so things were even busier than usual. They appeared shocked at how busy we were today and the extremes of problems that we help people with. I’ve learnt to multi task very well, so have members of the team.

We had six food parcels and some lovely hot food cooked and brought to us by a friend off Facebook named Tina. This food was very welcome because many people haven’t ate nice hot food for a long time.


Ashton Under Lyne now has a full roll out of Universal Credit, so things will no doubt become much worse. I’ll keep you posted about this. I did try and raise awareness about this, but my voice isn’t loud at times but I try.


Here is another example of the stupidity of the DWP system and how they like to keep a claimant on their toes and under their control.

We spoke to an older chap who told us that he had only just started to claim benefits. His claim had gone through after a very long wait and this is an example of exactly what he has had to do this week.

He attended his signing on appointment on Monday, his FIRST one.

He was sent to a ‘careers advice’ course at the Jobcentre on Tuesday… These courses are generally pretty rubbish and if they had listened to him in the first place they would have known that he already had a profession, but just needs a job.

Thursday (today) he had to attend an appointment just to tell them what happened. For goodness sake, that could have been dealt with at his next signing on appointment. Give the chap time to breathe and to actually look for work.

He recieved a letter this morning (Thursday) telling him to attend an appointment, but the letter had two different appointment times on it… He had difficulty getting a correct answer as to when he should attend this appointment.

He said that getting an answer for this was hard, I can believe that. The system is broken, it just doesnt work, departments do not communicate with each other and nor are they making any effort to do so. As a result people are suffering, but hey, the government does not care one jot and nor should we expect them to.


I spoke to a man very briefly who told me that he receives his payments on a special payment card. Thats one to watch out for folks. He hadn’t recieved his usual payment and didn’t have a clue why. They gave him a telephone number that he couldn’t use due to having no phone. I signposted him to another local organisation because he needed extra help for some other issues also. Lovely men, just needing a helping hand.


A young woman said hello, then walked into the Jobcentre. Ten Minutes later she walked out and I asked her if she needed any help. She told me that she had recieved a letter to attend the Jobcentre today and she arrived at the time stated. She informed the front desk, and a member of staff  said to her very rudely “what makes you think that YOU have an appointment today” She answered “Because I have a letter” the member of staff then told her that she must return home to get the letter or they wouldn’t aknowledge that she had an appointment. She did just this, but was now late.

More DWP stupidity and a member of staff being pedantic and rude. This isn’t nice, and is bad practice. But thats the norm these days except for the odd nice member of staff.



We spoke to a lovely man and his wife. He had been in the army and was injured so as a result had to leave the army. His wife became his carer and this should have been allowed to continue, however it wasn’t. The DWP told her wrongly that she couldn’t be his carer anymore and that she had to claim Jobseekers Allowance. She was subsequently sanctioned three times as a result. Luckily they spent their time reading about their legal rights etc regarding their benefits and what they are entitled to. She is now her husbands carer again, but the stress of going through all that will never leave them. How dare the DWP do this to them,always arm yourself with the facts if faced with a situation like this. It’s so important to.



Our regaular heckler turned up again today, shouting at us and calling us all scroungers and scumbags whilst waving her umbrella at us all. She targeted John as usual. She was awful, and there is no need for this kind of behaviour. If she doesn’t like us then just walk past, but then again shes told us in the past that she hates all unemployed people, regardless of illness and disability. We shouldn’t have to put up with this. I informed her that I was phoning the police and she walked away rather quickly.



For the person that informed me that we have only been doing this for 3 1/2 months and ONLY hand out food parcels, I suggest that you read my blog correctly. In fact I found a video of us doing this from 2013. We work hard, I work very hard documenting all this and trying to raise awareness as well as writing about it. Please give us some more credit.


A massive thank you to everyone that arrived to help out today, it was lovely to see Roy, Keith and Ashley today as well as Gordon, John and Christine.


We handed out food parcels, warm food, some warm clothes donated by Ria, help, advice, survival guides, solidarity and have comforted people when they were feeling at their lowest. We need to stop and scrap this awful system because it’s failing EVERYONE.



Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. For all the readers and supporters of my blog and the campaign you literally keep me going, its extremely hard work.

This week I’ve attended meetings, had an article published in The Guardian (unpaid), spoke to people on the phone, had an article published in The Morning Star and have been interviewed by Sky News. This is all to raise awareness and I don’t get paid. We need to stop this barbaric system and soon.


Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!


Cancelled demo due to adverse weather conditions.

Hi readers,

I need to apologise for not being able to hold our weekly demo. We are experiencing awful weather here, deep snow and very strong winds that are dropping the temperature to between -12 and -16.

I attempted to set off like usual this morning with my daughter because her school was shut due to the weather conditions, and I filmed my attempt. Walking was the only way of getting there at the time because the roads were full of snow, and it still continues to fall. Here’s my video. By the way it was live streaming via Facebook because my phone won’t allow me to video anymore for some strange reason, I never have any luck with phones. So if you don’t have Facebook then you might not be able to view it. Sorry!

My intention today was to attend and hand food parcels out etc, and I did attempt to so please understand that this was not a decision that I wanted to make. I also had to assess the situation for team members, some of which were snowed in or it was too dangerous to travel. Gordon deserves a medal for digging his car out even though it wasn’t safe enough to make the journey there and back. Thank you Gordon.

I also had to assess the situation regarding the temperature and wind chill. I made the decision that it was and is too cold, -13 to -16 is too cold to be standing outside for two hours.

I’ll be honest, I feel a failure, that maybe I could have chanced it and that I have let people down. So please be kind.

I have issued advice to claimants stating that if their Jobcentre hasn’t telephoned them to cancel their appointment then to keep a record of weather conditions, bus stoppages etc, and if they can’t attend their appointment then to telephone them otherwise they run the risk of being sanctioned. If the Jobcentre have phoned you, keep a record anyway because you never know. The same applies for any work programme appointments, workfare and course appointments. Please keep a record and inform people!!

Cold weather payments have been actioned, so qualifying people will be able to receive them. If not, like me but on a  low income keep warm at home, go back to bed or bring a blanket downstairs etc. Don’t go out unless you need to. Of course I understand that all areas aren’t as bad as Ashton Under lyne.

SWEP is also in place so if you see anyone on the streets that are homeless please refer them to the local housing office, remember this is different in all areas. There’s also a brilliant app for mobile phones called Streetlink, download it and if you see anyone in need use the app and help will be sent. It’s free.

I’ve been busy writing, planning, campaigning and attempting to hold the DWP to account. I’m not alone in this quest though and a big shoutout to my friend and fellow blogger Kate Belgrave. Shes brilliant.

Life isn’t easy when you are living on a low income, and I totally understand what you are going through, I live it myself. Keep strong, know that you aren’t alone in your struggles and that I care, lots of us care. You are important.

We’ve helped so many people outside the Jobcentre and will continue to do so, this is not the end its just one week. I will continue dispite opposition.

Solidarity to everyone, and also to members of the team who go above and beyond to join me to help you are all amazing.

What am I doing today? Trying to keep warm, and most likely a bit of writing.

I hear you, the struggle is real. Solidarity.


Once again my apologies and I will return, we will return next week.


Please like, share, email and talk about my blog. Thank you!


Please donate if you can, every penny really helps. I’m a skint single parent just trying my best to helpfolk.  If you can’t then that’s also ok!

Thank you!


Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!



DWP write to GP to advise not to give claimant sicknotes. Woman faced with eviction, man sent on a course miles away. Welcome to DWP hell.

Hi folks, I’m still here although some people and organisations like to wish that I wasn’t. It’s been a long week, it’s cold and I’m not that well AGAIN. Will this winter ever end? It appears not because yet another cold spell is on it’s way over and SWEP is in place for the street homeless folk in my area until Tuesday.

I arrived at Ashton Jobcentre 10 minutes early. This wasn’t planned, but I had my daughter in tow today as it’s the school holidays and we had ran out of shops to walk around. It’s the same in many small towns across the country, shops shutting because people are shopping elsewhere, and the communities don’t have enough money to spend in local shops. It’s a catch 22 situation.

I once had a dream that when I became an adult that I would own a shop similar to my great grandparents. I can confidently kiss that dream goodbye, and anyway I much prefer writing and helping people now.

Today’s demo was a cold one and it was slow to start, Ashton appeared to be slow to wake up from its night time slumber, maybe it was a mixture of the cold weather and the school holidays. I’ll list the problems that I encountered today. None are unusual, but they still matter and are a sad indictment of the awful state of this government and it’s distinct hatred of the poorest and most vulnerable.

The first person that I spoke to today was a man that I had spoken to on a previous occasion. He had then broke his leg, but it is now out of plaster and he was hobbling into the Jobcentre for his weekly signing on appointment. I asked him how he was and he said “Same shit, a different day and I’m sick of it”.

I spoke to a young man who was going into the Jobcentre to make his very first claim. I handed him a survival guide and gave him some advice. He was grateful of this and I hope that he takes heed of both.

I spoke to a man whilst he was leaving the Jobcentre. He was very thin, was wearing unsuitable clothes for the weather and looked fed up. He told me that his advisor had told home that he has to attend a course in another town for a period of time, he wasn’t certain of how long. I asked him what this course would consist of and he told me that he didn’t know, his advisor hadn’t told him but had told him that he must attend or he will be sanctioned. So thats a long journey, taking time away from real job hunting most likely to learn nothing that he doesn’t already know. The DWP spends millions I’m sure on expensive courses that don’t deliver anything of any significance.

I spoke to an older woman who has been sofa surfing for quite a while now. Her son is also street homeless and this breaks her heart. She told me that she didn’t want life to be like this, it used to be different and that she feels a failure. I reassured her that she is not a failure, that the government is failing her and her son. Luckily her son is now accessing help and will also be housed whilst SWEP is in place, and he is recieving on going support. She reassured me that she is going to at last access the same help and I’m praying that she does because I am worried about her. I will check up on her situation this week.

We spoke to an older man who is having trouble accessing his P45 from his previous employer. Sadly this isn’t an unusual situation and I have blogged about this before. His previous employer is refusing to hand over his P45, and this in itself is very dodgy. He’s been advised to take it further himself and to navigate the legal system by himself. That’s no mean feat I can tell you.

I signposted him to Manchester Law Centre, and I hope that he can get some good advice there. This is a problem that is becoming all too common sadly. Because he can’t access his P45 he can’t access any benefits, and that includes his housing benefit. They are also demanding a copy of his P45. The poor fella can’t win. I really hope that he can get some help at the Law Centre.

Good news folks! The couple that I blogged about last week are now in temporary accomodation whilst SWEP is in place. They took my advice after spending more than a few nights sleeping under a bridge in the freezing cold. Life on the street can be scary, especially for a woman and she had been very scared. I’m so happy that they are now accessing help and support. I know that my readers have been worried about them both also. Shelter are also fighting their corner so hopefully there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for them soon.

An older man stopped Gordon and told him that Universal Credit it a nightmare. We all agreed that it is. It’s your worst nightmare.

A man was sent in and out of the Jobcentre at least three times. Why on earth can’t they just let them wait inside for the 10 minutes for their appointment. It’s freezing outside, but they won’t because it would show a measure of compassion wouldn’t it.

I asked a man who looked so cold if he needed a food parcel.. He said that he didn’t deserve one. I tried to explain to him that he does, if he’s in need then he is in need. He walked off, but so many people think like this. I do hope that hes ok.

I very briefly spoke to a polish man who quickly took a leaflet from me. I hope that he’s ok because he appeared to be very stressed and unhappy.

I spoke to an older lady who had failed her ESA medical, hadn’t appealed it because she didn’t know that she could do so who is now claiming JSA. She told me that as a result of the benefit change, she had no idea that she had to now pay the top up on her rent. As a result she had fallen behind with her rent and her landlord (a local housing association) has told her that she will see them in court. She told me that she  hadn’t recieved any advice, so I gave her some advice and referred her to the relevant organisations that can help her. Life on the streets would be especially cruel to her. Shes older, in poor health and very vulnerable. The council would see her as being intentionally homeless and would most likely wash their hands of her. I really am hoping that she access the help available.

I spoke to a man who told us that his doctor had been advised by the DWP of not to allow him anymore fit notes. This isn’t unusual, the DWP can and do try to interfere with a doctors ability to treat their patient. Luckily his doctor, and many others ignore the DWP, but how many don’t ignore them? How many people are left without fit notes  when they desperately need them?

When I say that the DWP has total control over a person’s life, it is most definitely true, they have the legal right to contact a GP and attempt to stop them from issuing fit notes. It’s appalling and why aren’t the medical profession challenging this more?


Just before we were about to leave a lady stopped to talk to me. She had just left the Jobcentre, and upon entering the Jobcentre she had asked a G4S ‘Security’ guard what we were doing outside. The guards answer was that we were ‘Wasting oxygen’. Says it all doesn’t it.

If anyone from Ashton under Lyne Jobcentre is reading this please tell the guard with the moustache that we are far from a waste of oxygen and that we spend two hours helping desperate people to piece their life’s together. If he has taken offence to this then also remind him that he is only one step away from being in the same position as the claimants walking into the Jobcentre every day. And anyway, working for G4S is no big deal, and they care nothing for him. Ta.

Whilst I’m mentioning G4S, I’m doing some research into intimidation etc by G4S security guards at Jobcentres and and I need your help. If any of my readers have had any bad experiences with the security guards at the Jobcentre then please contact me with your stories. Your name and details will remain anonymous. This is really important folks, so if you can please get in touch via email if you like. Thank you!


Thank you to everyone that came along to help today. I know that it was cold, but your help and advice means the world to everyone. Thank you!

Many thanks to all my readers and all our supporters. Your support means the world and it keeps me going. Times are a tad tough at the moment for me so thank you so much!

Please like, share, tweet, email my blog if you can. I’ll put my donate button below also. I’m a single parent on a very low budget and every penny counts. Thank you.



Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!


Family made homeless due to no fault of their own… Children taken into care. There’s no duty of care to keep families together. Welcome to Tory britain.

Sorry for the delay in writing my blog this week. After the demo I had to attend a meeting and time quickly drifted away. This sometimes happens so my apologies once again.

Today was freezing cold, horrendous for anyone who are forced to live on the streets, having no roof over their head. Not only do they have the weather to contend with they also have to cope with life on the streets, it’s tough much tougher than we can comprehend. My heart goes out to everyone in this situation and as I know we are all either one or two steps away from this ourselves.

I really didn’t think that I could despise this Conservative government even more than I did previously, but today has deepened my dislike of them. Let’s get it right, they really don’t care about anyone that isn’t a member of their club, and nor would many Tory MPs care about the homeless man that died near the houses of parliment this week. They’ll just exchange platitudes and that will be it.

I also make no apologies for my thinking this way, I’ve experienced too much now to think otherwise and every night I hope that the next day it will get better but it doesn’t.


Gordon arrived with the food parcels as soon as I arrived, he might have arrived a few seconds earlier than myself, I’m not sure but I was tired so my apologies. All food parcels were taken as usual, I shall list todays incidents, it’s probably easier that way.


The first person that I spoke to was an older man who had been sanctioned for not attending a meeting that he didn’t receive an appointment about. For any new readers of my blog this happens a lot, far too often for it to be a conincidence anymore. If you scroll down my posts, I think that I have mentioned this previously in an earlier blog.

I advised him of what to do etc and handed him a food parcel. Also, I gave him advice and solidarity because when a person is in that situation it does feel like your whole world is ending, for some it does. A kind word means more than you’d think.


I spoke to a man who often stops to talk to me. He is sleeping on a friends sofa, it’s his only option he says. He has a few problems with his accomodation so he likes to chat about it, and once again I advised him of his options. He took a food parcel and rushed home to get out of the cold. Cold weather and Asthma do not mix well.


I spoke to a young woman who was very inappropriately dressed for the weather. She looked very upset so I walked over to her and asked her if she was ok. She told me that she had attempted suicide the other day and was not long out of hospital. She had previously failed her ESA examination, and didn’t know how she was going to carry on. Shes also pregnant and worried about her unborn baby.

I gave her a hug, a food parcel and one of our leaflets. I also advised her of what she should do now as a matter of urgency and she assured me that she would do these tasks as well as access local groups for support. I reassured her that she isn’t alone, that we and others do care for her and are there for her. My thoughts are with her.


An older lady walked out of the Jobcentre, she stopped and stated that ‘They make you feel like you are a five year old in there’ and that the security guards are even worse. She finds them very intimidating and I can attest to that fact. Some of them must think that they are in the employ of the DWP, when infact they are employed by G4S and are only one step away from being in the same shoes as the claimants that they intimidate.


A lovely woman walked over and started to talk to us, she told me that her friend had mentioned us. She told us that she claims ESA and also PIP and already has a good support worker. Shes a very clever and articulate woman.

She told us that a representative of a local housing provider had been to see her to ‘advise’ her about Universal Credit which is being completely rolled out in Ashton Under Lyne in March. The representative panicked her and didn’t take into account her health conditions and left her in a state of panic.

Advice  was given to her and she is now arming herself with as much information as possible. The representative told her that she has to start saving money to pay her rent due to the wait for Universal Credit payments. Rent is a priority she was told. Thats as may be, but when you have no money how on earth can you save, its impossible isn’t it.


A young man stormed out of the Jobcentre looking very upset. He didn’t want to talk, I hope that he is ok.


I advised a lady who was posting a sicknote to send it by first class postage and to get proof of postage. This will back up her claim if it becomes lost as they often do. Shes had an awful time with her ESA and their crooked assessments.


I spoke to a lady who looked furious upon leaving the Jobcentre. She told me that her advisor was leaving, its an advisor that has worked at Ashton for some time. I used to have the same advisor on occasion and they are one of the more reasonable ones. Anyway today she had to see the person taking over their job. In her words this advisor was ‘horrible, didn’t listen to me, tried to catch me out on everything and I just wanted to get out of there’. I advised her of her right to complain and demand to change advisors.

Yes this is still a legal right and people should exercise this right whenever they encounter a problem like this. If you have a decent MP then go and see them, it doesn’t take long to sort out. Jobcentres hate MPS becoming involved because they know that they will be held accountable to some degree.


A man walked out of the Jobcentre and whispered to Gordon ‘The way they treat us in there is awful’. Says it all doesn’t it.


The last incident could be rather shocking to some readers, but not to others.

When the demo ended we made our way over to IKEA for a free cuppa and some warmth. We were also having a meeting.

As I was walking over to our table I was stopped by a woman and a man that I have spoken to many times in the past. Due to no fault of their own they were made homeless and are getting legal advice about this. This is bad enough isn’t it, but they have children and as a result of their becoming homeless their children have now been taken into care.

They asked for help regarding housing for both themselves and their children,but were told that the duty of care goes only to their children and not the parents.

I have mentioned this subject earlier in the week via twitter my twitter id is @charlotteh71 with fellow blogger Kate Belgrave, and I have also had personal experience of this attitude towards duty of care when my daughter asked for help with rehousing, and I do know that this does happen, it happens a lot in most local authorities up and down the country.

The duty of care used to go to both children and their parents, and it used to be a priority to keep a family together. This priority seems to have gone, most likely due to a lack of emergency accomodation and cost. The irony is that it costs a lot more to place a child into the care system than it does to keep a family together. So now the parents are street homeless and unless they find accomodation they are not likely to have their children returned.

It’s an almost identical situation as in Ken Loach’s film Cathy come home. The government are tearing families apart, children are being taken from good parents, who’s only so called crime is to have a run of bad luck, to loose their job and then their home. These aren’t crimes, this shouldn’t be happening in the first place.

We bought them a warm meal, gave them some good advice and signposted them to local organisations. They have done nothing wrong except to be poor, and in this governments eyes thats criminal.



I’m sorry if I’ve ranted a bit today, I’m upset. Every week for over 4 years I’ve seen and heard some awful things and it does get to me at times. Everything that I write is a true account and has been witnessed by members of the team, who are wonderful.

How much more will it take before enough people want change? I know that many of us can’t take much more.

Many thanks to everyone that came along today. I know that it’s cold and this winter is never ending but I really do appreciate it and so do the people that are forced to use the Jobcentre.


Please share, tweet, talk about or email my blog to your local MP. Even if they are a conservative MP they need to know what is happening to the poorest and most vulnerable of this country.

Also please donate if you can, every penny does count. Thank you!


Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!


Insulin dependant lady fails ESA medical relying on foodbanks, wheelchair bound homeless man forced to live in rat infested hostel, missing gateway codes, welcome to Tory Britain.

Well today’s demo was busy. I was greeted by John as I arrived at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, he was very early today and that cheered me up immensely. Very soon after John’s arrival Gordon arrived with the food parcels and they more or less left as soon as they arrived. it’s an awful sign of the times when this happens and the cold weather certainly does not help. Everyone agrees that winter does feel never ending this year.

I have been pondering on how I should write this weeks blog, and I have decided that I shall list the accounts of what happened today. Please note that no one in need left without adequate help, support, signposting and when needed a food parcel. So here goes.


The First Lady that I spoke to stopped for only a moment. She told me that she had failed her ESA medical because the DWP had lost her form. Unbelievable isn’t it. Well sadly this isn’t unusual, she was given advice on how to appeal, where to get help doing so and was given a food parcel. She wasn’t given any help from the Jobcentre just a sheet of paper with a telephone number on it. Thank goodness we were there to help her.


I spoke to a man who was working but because his income is very limited he couldn’t afford to buy any food shopping. I advised him and handed him a food parcel, he was relieved that he had someone to talk to that understood and that he wasn’t on his own.

A woman stopped me to tell me that the DWP had lost her sick note, she was devestated and is trying everything that she can to sort this out. I advised her on what to do and handed her a leaflet. Gordon had a chat with her also. She will be ok, but shes a vulnerable person and she shouldn’t be forced to pay financially for the DWPS mistake.

We spoke to a young woman who was wearing totally unsuitable clothes for the cold weather. She appeared to be confused and told me that she had just found out that she is pregnant. We advised her, gave her a leaflet and food parcel and also signposted her to a local organisation where she can get a hot meal and get some solidarity. She appeared happy with that and hopefully things will get better for her.

I noted today that there was more people being turned away from attending their appointment for being ‘too early’. Being early counts as being 10 minutes early. The Jobcentre should remember that if a person were to attend a job interview then it is good practice to arrive 10 minutes early, and afterall they are supposed to be preparing people to return to work. It’s also flaming cold outside and a bit of compassion wouldn’t go amiss would it. It wasn’t overly busy either. I suspect that this is really all about control, afterall all claimants need to be constantly reminded to who is their real boss don’t they, the DWP are in total control of their life’s. it’s awful and soul destroying.

A young couple rushed out, they didn’t want to speak and they looked annoyed. I asked them if they were ok (daft question really) and the young woman told me “They are all pi** takers in there aren’t they”. Sorry I can’t elaborate more on that but they wern’t hanging around.


We spoke to an older lady who is insulin dependent. She has to take insulin several times a day and also eat decent food at regular intervals throughout the day. She had attended her ESA medical and had failed, so with the help of welfare rights is now taking her case to a tribunal. She is understandably worried about this because she needs to eat.

This lady is also a WASPI lady, who should be by rights receiving her state pension. Because the government wrongly changed the goalposts regarding this she can’t and is now at the mercy of a system that cares nothing for her at all. Roy quite rightly stated that she has been dropped off the cliff edge with her safety net being thrown away. She is still in shock that the government would treat her like this. We gave her advice, a leaflet and showed her compassion and solidarity, this did mean the world to her.


I spoke to two homeless men that are at the moment living in an area that isn’t in Tameside, but not too far away, a place called Openshaw. I recognised them both when I saw them because they had both been street homeless in Manchester and I had spoken to them both. One of these men is a wheelchair user.

They told me about the terrible living conditions that they are being forced to endure. They are living in temporary accommodation in a hostel. Whilst they are living there they have to pay a top up amount and they are supposed to get a breakfast every day. The landlord is refusing to feed them, there’s water leaking everywhere and they told me that the place is overrun by rats and mice. They hate it there, but it’s either there or the streets and it’s too cold to be out on the streets.

There has also been a mix up with their money and they are scared that they are going to be thrown out because they can’t afford to pay the top up and they are scared. I had a good chat with them, and I signposted them to a local organisation that might be able to help them with their situation and I also advised them of where to go for help with their payments.

Life is awful for them, hellish infact and it’s the same for thousands of homeless folk up and down the country. From what I have been hearing there needs to be far more stringent regulations put into place regarding these hostels. There are some awful ones out there, it seems that it goes from one extreme to another, from excellent accomodation where residents are given full support and the other end of the spectrum where the landlord just collects the rent and doesn’t want to have anything to do with the care of the vulnerable people living in them. This needs sorting out asap as a matter of urgency.


We spoke to a woman that isn’t entitled to claim contribution based JSA because she hadn’t worked in the previous year. She lives with her partner and he works more than 24 hours a week, therefore she is at the mercy of him for any money at all. She told me that she gets money to go for milk and the odd tenner every now and then. She doesn’t have a life, no independence and it’s eating her up inside. She told us that she had worked all her life, since she was 18 without a break except for last year. She’s paid into a system that refuses to help her in her time of need and it’s rotten. She told me that it’s a good job that her partner is a nice fella or it could be much worse. I agreed, I know women and some men who are trapped at home with an abusive partner because of rulings like this. This government cares nothing for victims of domestic abuse, infact by its own rulings it appears to encourage it. Shame on them.

There was nothing that we could do except offer her advice and sympathy, She thanked us for our kind words.


We spoke to a lady who was very upset as she was leaving the Jobcentre. She had been working previously and was working through her probational period at work. On her last day of probationary work, just before she was about to sign her contract for a permanent job she had a heart attack at work. The company refused her a job and she had to spend a long period of time in hospital.

Upon leaving hospital she claimed ESA and was put in the work related category. She wasn’t happy about this but didn’t know how to navigate the system. Because she was put in the work related category she was given a gateway code that she had to give to the DWP upon phoning them, logging on for work searches etc.

She told us that her code didn’t work, they told her on the telephone that she must find the correct one and she was going round in circles. They obviously haven’t been watching or reading the news because if they had been they would have known that the official policy for a situation like this is to help the person in need. They refused. In desperation she walked into the Jobcentre and luckily she spoke to a nice advisor (I know who you are but won’t name incase of repercussions but thank you) and they offered to help her, and to telephone her within three hours.

She is also telephoning our MPS office, and has hopefully visited the local organisation that we referred her to for some food and a nice hot cuppa. We had ran out of food parcels but I know that if she has gone to see them then they would help her.

She told us that she had 83p left to her name, she had nothing else. She had always worked and this is the first time that she has claimed any type of benefit except working tax credits when her children were younger.

This can happen to anyone folks, a sudden illness, a loss of a job, a berevement or a bit of bad luck can put anyone in this situation. There is an old saying, and I say it often ‘but by the grace of god go I’. Never take anything for granted we can’t because it could happen to anyone at any time.


Today was busy even though the town centre appeared quiet today. I know that there are a lot of people that are ill at the moment, my daughter included so get well folks I’m thinking of you all.


Many thanks to everyone who attended today. Numbers might have been low but spirits, compassion and solidarity were high. We will return again next week and the week after etc etc. Come and join us we would love to see you!



Please share, tweet, email and talk about this blog. If we don’t continue to get these issues into conversation and the public arena this will never change. For everyone that already does, thank you and thank you to everyone that supports my blog and work.

Please donate towards the work that I do, it’s not easy and I live on a very low income and I receive no funding at all. Every penny does help thank you.



Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!




What’s the point in trying to stop them from sanctioning me? They do it anyway. A man defeated by the system.

I’m going to start this weeks blog by thanking all of my readers, supporters, followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook. Also I want to than all my activist friends for their support.

Today was absolutely freezing cold. Not only did I have to contend with walking the mile to school on what was effectively sheet ice, the wind chill was awful. I really don’t know how anyone that is street homeless survives in this weather. I only stood for nearly a couple of hours and I was chilled to the bone. The national and local severe weather emergency provision is unsatisfactory also. All different authorities use differing thermometers and rulings. Once the weather on their individual thermometers reaches above zero then there isn’t any provision.

They don’t keep in mind that their thermometers can be wrong, and people can and do still die on the streets in above zero temperatures. Today with the cold, and wind chill it’s much colder than they think. Ultimately it’s all about saving money though and denying responsibility. A national system needs to be introduced, where every local authority uses the same temperature measure, ideally the Met Office and take things like wind chill, feels like temperature and rain into account.

Anyway I have digressed from the demo, but it’s a subject that I’m passionate about. I speak to many street homeless folk and I can’t imagine the hell that they go through on a daily basis.


Anyway like I’ve said it was cold, so much so that we had to leave 20 minutes early. There was only three of us, and a couple of friends came to say hello, thank you! I’m always wary that I don’t want anyone to become ill. But I apologise anyway.


The first person that I spoke to today was a lady who told me that she was grieving. There had been a death in her family and she was trying to cope as well as keep up with the DWP regime. She had handed a sick note in, but unfortunately it had ran out so back on the treadmill she goes. I handed her a leaflet which she was thankful for.


I spoke to a lady who was new to the DWP system due to a relationship breakdown. She has two children, one still very young, but her advisor has given her an unreasonable job search time in her claimant commitment. I advised her and she will be taking this further. I gave her a survival guide which she was grateful for.


We spoke to an older man who’s son is claiming Universal Credit . His told us that his son is 50 years old and has a degree. He is looking for work and is doing his best. He told us that the DWP staff are ‘buggers’ who don’t help anyone but themselves. It must be awful seeing his son in this position and worrying about him also.


We spoke to a man who had won two tribunals to reinstate his JSA payments, but the DWP are still refusing to pay him. The DWP have given him all sorts of rubbish excuse that don’t amount to any substance at all, and they are ignoring the tribunals order to pay him his money. He will be appealing this though, he’s very knowledgeable and will hopefully be visiting the Law Centre in Manchester for further help.


I spoke to a few people that were walking out of the Jobcentre clutching colourful, glossy brochures. They informed me that they contain information about a health and wellbeing course at a local college. I will endeavour to get further details of these courses.


We spoke to an older man who looked very despondent. We asked him what the problem was and he told us that he was sick of that place (the Jobcentre). We handed him a leaflet and told him that it would help him, and hopefully prevent him from being sanctioned. He looked at the leaflet, looked at us and said “What’s the point? They do it anyway.” That, readers are the words of a defeated man. His pride has gone, and the system has ground him down as much as it can. This is what the system does to people, it takes a person’s spirit from them, I’ve seen it countless times and it sickens me.


I spoke to a lady who I speak to on a weekly basis. She’s so lovely and always has a smile for us despite having a hard time. She has had the flu, works for 12 hours a week and relies on the top up element of Universal Credit. Because she claims the top up element she still has to do a weekly job search which she keeps to stringently. Today her advisor told her that she hadn’t looked for work enough. Luckily for her she proved that she had done so. She was so close to wrongly having her top up wrongly sanctioned, and thanks to our advice she had the evidence. This is how easy it is to be sanctioned and it angers me.


We handed out 6 food parcels, all full to the top, handed out extra bread, handed out copies of our survival guides, gave comapssion, understanding and sympathy. All of those qualities the DWP are devoid of. I’m very sad to say that we had to leave early, 20 minutes early but we were really cold. I’m still cold. But we will return next week as usual and will be there for the full two hours.

Steve if you are reading this get well soon!

Thanks to my rocks Gordon and Roy for coming today. I’m very aware that it wasn’t easy for you so a massive thank you.



Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!