Category: womens rights

Jobcentre staff refuse to print off proof of income for a vulnerable person. Man waits three months for first Universal Credit payment.

Dear readers, after a rather traumatic last week, I’m back although I’m following doctors orders and taking it easy so to speak. God knows what that means when you are a single parent on a very low income, but I’m doing my best. Anyway I was back outside the Jobcentre this morning.

The weather was cooler, and I fear that it won’t be long before winter is here, and for those that are street homeless its a nightmare. My heart goes out to them, everyone deserves a home to live in.

I’ll list the cases that we came across today as usual. Please note that everyone was given one, or two of our leaflets depending on their situation. Those that needed a food parcel were given one and if a person needed to be signposted they were.

 

The first man that I spoke to was a street homeless man that I’ve been talking to and trying to help for years. He flits between the different services available and the local charities, many do this just to survive. He told me that he has now got a flat, somewhere to live after three years on the streets. I was really happy to hear this, the thought of him being on the streets for another winter sends shivers down my spine. At least he will be warm and off the streets, I just hope that he is now able to maintain the tenancy. This can be very hard for many people who have been street homeless for years. We congratulated him and wish him all the luck in the world.

 

I spoke to a young man who had jut made his first application for Universal Credit. He didin’t have a clue how to navigate the system, what to do, and how it worked. No one had really explained it to him. So I explained it, gave him copies of our two leaflets and he walked away much more confident.

 

We then had a bit of excitement. The fire alarm went off inside the Jobcentre, so everyone was sent out of the building including staff members who hurriedly rushed past us. Honestly it’s terrible that they have this attitude. Anyway we saw this as a good opportunity to advise the claimants standing outside and we gave most of them a leaflet. Most of them thanked us,and we helped the people that had arrived for their appointments before we arrived. We saw that as being a good thing.

They were all sent back inside the building, I just hope that no one is sanctioned due to being late because of the fire alarm going off, I wouldn’t put it past the DWP to do this. I’ve recorded the time of the alarm going off for anyone needing any future assistance.

 

Gordon spoke to a woman that claimed that most unelmployed people claiming benefits don’t want to work. Apart from her being totally wrong, it was a sure sign that she has been fully indoctrinated by the right wing press and television.We did note that it was a tad ironic that both herself and her husband were having to go into the Jobcentre for advise about their financial situation. Ironic isn’t it.

 

I started chatting with a young man, who is a singe parent that has had a hell of a time whilst trying to claim Universal Credit. He told me that they demanded that he must use the internet to search for jobs (yes this is standard) so he tried to use the Jobcentres computers to do this. There was a problem though… He had his very young daughter with him and he was told that is daughter wasn’t allowed to be with him in the Jobcentre whilst he looked for a job. He challenged this and they said ‘Tough, go to the library”. They also forget that the library isn’t open every day and they had told him previously that he could use the public computers.

So once again, children are being frowned upon, even though the system demands that a person looks for work despite having a small child. A member of staff requested that he gets the internet at home. Of course he explained that he couldn’t do this, he hardly gets enough money to feed both himself and his daughter nevermind the internet.

I personally think that this system is ludicrous. There was nothing wrong with the old fashioned job searches, written on paper because near enough everyone could do this. Those with difficulty doing this were either assisted of excused. Making demands like this is simply unfair, and not everyone is computer literate.

He told me that he had waited 11 weeks for his first Universal Credit payment for himself and his daughter, he told me that he was literally climbing the walls with both hunger and frustration. As a result he was in arrears with everything including council tax. He had to attend court concerning this, and the person from the council had worked out an unreasonable payment plan that he will struggle to keep to. Heat or eat, council tax or eat? What would you do?

 

A disabled woman pushed in her wheelchair was noted entering the building, they were in there for quite a while and it sickens me to the stomach that someone so vulnerable and obviously disabled is being targeted by the government like this.

 

We said hello and handed a leaflet to a young woman who is 32 weeks pregnant. she looked very pale, and we were concerned about her health. We helped and advised her.

 

We spoke to a lovely lady who was struggling to walk with two walking sticks. She told us that she had to attend the Jobcentre in ther words “To justify my disability” despite it being very obvious. She claims the new sickness related element of Universal Credit and that in itself is a nightmare.

Upon leaving the Jobcentre, she thanked us for the leaflets, stating that they were very helpful indeed and that she will use them, oh and to keep up the good work.

 

We then spoke to a young 18yr old care leaver who is due to be moved on from his accomodation from social services. He was with his carer, who to be honest is nothing short of amazing, he was helping him out of his own time, because he cares for him and knows that the DWP will do little to help him.

The situation was this. To receive accomodation from our local housing options department he needs proof of income. The DWP were steadfastly refusing to print out his proof of income, and refused even to do so when requested to do so by both another DWP department and his caseworker. One of the excuses that they used.. Wait for it its a corker… Is that they don’t have any printers…. What a load of rubbish. Of course they have a printer, they must have taken them for fools.

They then walked out of the building disheartened, they were getting nowhere. I explained that his bank will provide a statement for nothing and I asked them once again to go back inside the building to ask for a print off.

Somehow, like a miracle the DWP official told them that they would email it to his Universal Credit account and he could print it off from there, however he now had to find a printer. I directed them to the local library where he could do this, and I hope that its sorted now.

This is how cruel and callous the DWP are. This young man was lucky to have someone with him, and ourselves stood outside to help him. They don’t care that they are literally throwing a very vulnerable 18yr old on the streets, who would most likely be prayed upon by dubious characters along the way.

How hard is it to print off a one sided piece of paper. Apparently that’s impossible, but for some its a matter of life and death. I honestly have never witnessed such cruelty in the past as I am seeing now. They just don’t care, no one matters to them, we are just a number.

 

We spoke to a woman who had lost her job in the NHS due to ill health. She had worked there for 30 years and was honestly baffled by this system. She described how intimidated she feels upon entering the Jobcentre, saying that they ‘Look at you like dirt, and talk to you like that as well’

She didn’t know where to go for advise and support, so we showed her, talked to her and explained things. I hope that she’s ok. In all honesty, she shouldnt be forced to go through this, a lovely woman at the mercy of the DWP.

 

 

We noted that the security guards refused to admit a small child with some food into the Jobcentre. He was told to leave his food outside. Hang on this is a child, having to enter a building that isn’t exactly welcoming. His mother has been told to attend an appointment but you deny her child food whilst shes waiting? it’s ridiculous.

 

Last but not least I spoke to a man due his first Universal Credit payment today. His payment wasn’t in his bank account, and his advisor refused to chase it up. He was told to ‘Go home and phone them yourself’. There is hardly any customer care is there. His advisor could have telephoned but wouldn’t. Luckily he has got credit on his phone but if he didn’t he would never find out what had happened. It’s sickening.

 

There you have it, all this and more happened within two hours and I dread to think of what it’s like day in, day out. It’s horrific. People suffering when there is no need.

We handed out all of the food parcels, handed out lots of leaflets and helped lots of people. We did a good job and we will be back again next week, with myself hopefully in better health.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

For anyone wishing to donate there is a donate button above and at the side. A massive thanks to everyone that already supports our campaign and my blog. I couldn’t do it without you.

A massive thanks to Roy, Gordon and Pat for helping today, you are all my rocks xxx.

 

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Come back soon Charlotte. I’m worn out!

Dear readers, I’m extremely sorry that my blog is very late this week but I was admitted into hospital on Saturday because I was very ill. I was discharged yesterday but I’m still not feeling brilliant. The good news is that they found my brain, and due to a mixture of a rare brain condition and migraines I was totally unable to function. Hopefully all will be well now.

The good news is that this weeks demo still went ahead, with Roy, Gordon and Jints at the helm. Roy took notes throughout, and was very patient when I kept asking if everything was going ok. Roy then emailed the notes to me and these notes will form the basis of this weeks blog. So please excuse the change of style etc, it is what it is and I’m extremely grateful to the gang for keeping the demo and advice session going in my absence.

 

*Food parcels arrived with Gordon 10am. Two gone immediately. Sadly this isn’t unusual, we usually have a queue of people waiting for them. Universal Credit ensures that people are dependent upon them for survival.
* Two women started verbally violent row screaming at each other across Old St. Language totally unfit for before 9pm watershed.
*A woman arrived at the Jobcentre  seeking an envelope. She had moved to the area 18mo ago. She then had been forced to claim Universal Credit and has had hard time repaying the Universal Credit advance loans she took out to keep afloat.
*A  woman joined in conversation and said she’s had “endless” trouble with UC.
*A man arrived at the JC wearing just a  t-shirt and thin pants. . He said he couldn’t afford a coat. This on chilly damp day, raining infact. This happens a lot when the weather changes. People don’t have enough money to buy clothes etc, so are forced to continue to wear unsuitable clothing because they have nothing else to wear.
*Second message from Charlotte checking up on us. I make no apologies for this, I was missing being there and helping people but was too unwell to be there.
*A young  man arrived alone in a powered wheelchair struggling with doors which are very heavy to open even for an able bodied person. Many Jobcentres are just not disabled friendly in any shape or form, yet they deny people their ESA payments so they are then forced to have to use the unsuitable Jobcentres.
*Two  older ladies arrived wanting to use phone in the Jobcentre  to contact the  DWP. Of course this wasn’t permitted. They took the public telephones out years ago, so now people have to struggle trying to find a telephone to use, and struggle to pay for the phone call.
*We helped another woman trying to phone a relative to come and collect her. Her phone was flat so we lent her one of ours so she could telephone her relative.
*A heckler  described us as “bunch of nazis” and said we should wear National Socialist Party uniforms. We were too gobsmacked to respond. Sadly, people like this do like to shout abuse at us, even though the rubbish that they are spouting is complete rubbish and couldn’t be further than the truth.
*A young man we see regularly said this was one of the days when Jobcentre  staff were “not in the mood” meaning that he’d found them more unhelpful than usual.
*Food parcels all went and everyone that we spoke to was either signposted, advised etc and all were given one of our leaflets.
It is recurring theme that people will say “it’s okay I’m all right” and yet a little more chat reveals that they are not alright at all but struggling desperately, using all money up on fuel, travel, school uniform, debts etc etc
Come back soon Charlotte. I’m worn out!
Like I’ve said before this all happened in less than to hours and we spoke to more people than is documented here.
Please read, share, tweet, fb, email my blog.
Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog, and to my collegues. I couldnt do this without you.

 

Can’t cope with monthly Universal Credit payments… Tough. Haven’t recieved a payment for eight weeks. Universal credit strikes again.

Dear readers, yes its Thursday again and I have just returned home after our weekly demo and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, we have been doing this for over four years now and like I’ve mentioned before its getting worse and not better. Ignore the government they lie, almost every person that I’ve spoken to over the years have been set up to fail.

I’ll list today’s conversations and I apologise if the blog is short, lack of sleep and poor health has left me feeling fed up. Also I can’t stress how hard this time of the year is when you are poor and have children. Expensive school uniforms, school shoes. Stationary etc etc . It’s hard, it’s stressful and I feel it as well. My thoughts and solidarity are with you all.

Please note that everyone that we spoke to was offered a food parcel if they needed one and everyone recieved a copy of our leaflets. We try to help everyone and no one walks away without help.

I was greeted by a woman that told me she was struggling with her monthly Universal Credit payments. The money just doesn’t stretch far enough and she’s living in more poverty than she was previously. Not having the guarantee of a payment has quite literally made her ill .

 

I spoke to a man that had failed his ESA medical. He had appealed this decision, but the DWP upheld their decision so now hes taking his case to tribunal. Trying to keep his head above water is a full time job, one that he says he fails at times.

 

I spoke to a woman that we have been helping regularly for a while now. She grabbed hold of her food parcels, looked at me and smiled, saying that she might get a payment in a weeks time. Shes waited eight weeks now and it’s a miracle that shes coped for as long as she has done.

 

I handed a young lad a leaflet and I felt desperately sad for him. He’s at the start of his life and should be looking forward to his future, but he isn’t because the government won’t allow him to.

 

Today we noticed an increasing number of older women and men, it’s heartbreaking  to see them be forced into searching for non existent jobs and having to jump through ever increasing hurdles. For gawds sake, leave them alone. They are worn out, fed up and their bodies and minds need to rest.

 

A young man thanked me for a leaflet, perhaps the only bit of useful information that he had recieved today.

 

A man stormed out of the Jobcentre shouting ‘F***k off’ in the direction of the Jobcentre doors. He was visibly angry and frustrated. Poor fella if they just treated people with more understanding and compassion he wouldn’t feel like this in the first place.

 

We spoke to a woman that is claiming PIP at the moment. She’s very worried about her future move over to Universal Credit and quite rightly so. She knows that she’s going to have to go without the basics for a long while and she’s scared.

 

I noticed a man dashing into the Jobcentre clutching a piece of paper in his hand. He was staring at it intently, perhaps hoping that his situation would become better today. Sadly it wasn’t.

We spoke to an older man that we say hello to every week. He’s coping but only just. He shouted ‘Into the lions den’. Yes it literally feels like that.

 

We spoke to a woman and her support worker outside the Jobcentre. English is her second language and even her support worker was confused by the system. She enquired if her rent payments would be included in her first universal credit Payment. We confirmed this and we encouraged her to inform her landlord of her situation. This is so important because if you don’t landlords won’t have a clue what’s happening and an eviction process can be commenced.

 

We noticed a few more people going into the Jobcentre with their support workers. This is good because they are recieving some help, but they still neeed a leaflet and advice. Universal credit is so complicated, and purposely so and we like to help people.

 

I spoke to a man that was confused by his transfer over to Universal Credit. he told me that he didnt have a clue what was happening and was struggling.

 

I spoke to a man that struggles to use computers and technology. He’s dyslexic and can’t cope with it. He also doesn’t have a personal computer, and like he said he wouldn’t know how to use one if he did. So he’s stuck trying to cope with a system that fails to recognise his disability.

Last but not least, we spoke to a man of pensionable age. He told us that he was very confused with the new system and had been shocked to discover that he’s no longer entitled to free dental care etc. Visibly distressed he couldn’t understand why the system is like this.

But here’s the deal, the government purposely created this system purposely to punish the poorest and most vulnerable for their poverty, age, sex and any disability that they might have. Don’t expect any compassion from the government because there is none. We all need to fight for change because if we don’t we could be left to suffer like this for forever.

 

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Please read, share, tweet and email my blog we really need to get the word out that people are being forced to suffer like this.

Many thanks to all the readers and supporters of my blog. I couldn’t do this without you and the team for whom I’m eternally grateful.

 

There’s also a donate button above for anyone wishing to contribute. Thank you! It’s very hard work, especially when you aren’t well etc, but I plod on hoping that one day things will change.

Sanctions,ESA medical failures. The DWP system sets everyone up to fail.

Dear readers, today’s blog might be shorter than usual because I had to leave half a hour early. This was due to an appointment and I feel generally shitty. My friend suddenly died and his funeral hit me hard, so please try to understand that I’m trying my best.

Anyway, the weather has cooled down and autumn appears to be well and truly on the way, rainy and cold weather seems to be the way forward now. The colder weather causes so many problems for so many of us either health wise or monetary wise. Yes folks we are going to have to start paying an absolute fortune to stay warm again. Fantastic. Not.

 

Today started quietly but it soon picked up, when the weather is bad the town centre tends to be a bit quieter and to be honest not a lot of people have the money to go shopping all the time anymore. I’ll list everything as usual, it’s easier that way.

 

I spoke to a man who told me that he was working but still has to sign on. Yes when claiming Universal credit you do HAVE to sign on if you work less than full time hours. It’s ridiculous especially when finding a full time job is extremely hard. But they label such people as ‘under employed’ and stigmatised them for being such. Lovely.

 

I was met by a woman that I have been helping on a regular basis. She’s been told that she will receive her first Universal Credit payment in around two to three weeks. She was happy… But seriously, shes waited ages now and she has children to feed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no real reason as to why people are being forced to wait so long. The whole process could and should be a whole lot quicker than it is. But the government likes to make them suffer, what other reaso n could there be?

 

I spotted a woman walking into the Jobcentre, she looked totally done in, depressed, fed up and her body language was shouting ‘get me out of here’. She walked into the Jobcentre head down, not wanting to be noticed. I really hope that life starts to treat her better soon.

 

I spoke to a young woman who’s partner is grabbing any kind of agency work that he can find. Unfortunately because she’s not working and they claim universal Credit she still has to sign on.

She told me that she isn’t well, shes waiting for an operation to have her Gaul bladder removed and is in constant pain. Her advisor telephoned her to ask her to attend the Jobcentre at short notice. So she did. She rushed straight from her doctors appointment to the Jobcentre. Upon leaving she told me that the appointment could have been conducted on the telephone, and given her circumstances it should have been. But nope, drag her down to the Jobcentre when shes in agony appeared to be the better option for the DWP.

 

I spoke to a man who is recieving help from other agencies but still wanted to chat to us. His story is a tad complicated, they often are. With a complicated system comes complicated situations that are certainly not helped by their circumstances.

In essence he is appealing the decision to stop his ESA, and he has been waiting a long time. He’s hungry, flitting between services, trying to make the best of it but he has nothing. The system as ensured that his life is chaotic, complicated and unhappy.

He told us that the DWP are making his life harder everyday. He said “The Tory b******S more for them and less for us”. Spot on fella.

We gave him a food parcel and he tried to give us 50p. Of course we refused, he has nothing. Honestly those that have the least always try to give the most, of course there will be exceptions to this I know.

This government literally makes me feel sick with anger, you can bet that they wouldn’t hand over 50p to anyone..

 

I quickly spoke to a woman who was being pushed in a wheelchair, she was leaving the building. I asked her if she was ok and that I hoped that she was recieving some support. She told me that she wasn’t in receipt of any DWP payments and was waiting her first payment, that the DWP had ruined her life and why can’t they just leave her alone.

I totally agree, it shouldn’t be like this, everyone and I repeat everyone has the right to shelter, food, water and clothing. Someone had better remind the government of this, but hang on they already know and don’t care.

 

Sorry the blog is short, it’ll be back to normal next week. Everyone that we spoke to (including those that I haven’t mentioned in this blog) recieved help, support, guidance, signposting, one of our leaflets and a food parcel if needed. I wish that we didnt need to do this but we do, so as usual we will return next week to help people.

 

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A massive thanks to all of my blog readers and supporters of my blog. You all make this possible, thank you!

For anyone wishing to donate there is a donate button above. Thank you!

Forced to travel miles to attend a DWP mandatory course. Five month wait for Universal Credit payment. The system isn’t working..

Good afternoon readers, this weeks demo was busy as usual. Sadly far too many people were walking in and out of the Jobcentre with their heads down, eyes to the ground. To be honest they looked worn out, fed up, depressed and a step away from giving up. it’s a cruel system that cares nothing for those forced to comply with it.

it’s no mistake that I use the words ‘comply’ and ‘forced’ because thats exactly what it is. Claimants have absolutely no choice but to comply with often unreasonable demands made from the DWP. They are forced to attend DWP regulated courses, attend the Jobcentre whenever it is demanded of them , wait more than the official five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment. They are forced into a life of poverty, many for the first time. It really is an inhumane system and it needs to stop now.

 

I shall list the differing problems that we addressed whilst speaking to people outside the Jobcentre, everyone that we spoke to were given advice, a survival guide, signposted and if needed a food parcel issued.

Sadly the food parcels were very popular and all were gone within five minutes. I arrived ten minutes early and there was already a queue. I also took a woman to the shop next to the Jobcentre to buy her some food because we had run out. it’s awful.

Universal credit payments (if you are lucky enough to receive one) are not enough to enable people to survive for a month. Most of the people that I speak to have deductions taken out of their payment for the loan that they have been forced to take  whilst awaiting for their claim to be processed. Add to this other DWP loan repayments, rent top up and other debts its nearly impossible to survive.

 

Roy spoke to a man that said he has just been rehoused into a flat. Although he’s very grateful to have a roof over his head, he told Roy that the flat is inhabitiable. Various problems with the state of the flat and a concrete floor that he can’t afford to carpet. Roy signposted him to a local organisation that might be able to help with this.

 

We spoke to a woman that had been told that she had been migrated over to Universal Credit without her knowledge. She’s worried how she will survive. Would it not be too much to ask that the DWP inform all claimants at least a few weeks before they are transferred over? Apparently it is.

 

I noticed a man walking in and out of the Jobcentre for what appeared to be every five minutes. He was obviously agitated and fed up and clearly didn’t want to talk. my heart went out to him, a man totally degraded and humiliated by a system that clearly cares nothing for him.

 

I spoke to a young woman leaving the Jobcentre with her partner and children, she looked frustrated, fed up and angry. I ran over to her and asked her if I could help her with anything.

She went on to say that she had been locked out out of her Universal Jobmatch account, she wasn’t certain if she had forgotten her password or if the system was at fault. Honestly it’s hard to tell at times because the system drives you to distraction.

She had visited the Jobcentre to find out if she could get any help with this, but was faced with a big unanimous no. No they couldn’t help, they wouldn’t help but nevermind here’s a telephone number, phone them up and then make an appointment with an advisor to get the code.

Yes you read that correctly. This is another case of DWP burocracy gone mad. Why oh why couldn’t she be given a quick and easy solution to this? An email or a telephone appointment? Nope that’s too easy, so she has left to attempt to make a lengthy telephone call, most likely be sent on a wild goose chase through different departments, wait a while for her appointment and then hopefully, and I say hopefully receive her login code.

Oh and by the way because she can’t access her account she also runs the risk of being sanctioned for not complying. The longer she is forced to wait for her code the higher the risk of this happening. It’s almost as if they want this to happen isn’t it…….

 

More people were walking into and out of the Jobcentre with their eyes to the ground. Not wanting to be noticed, not wanting to be there. They could of course be doing something more productive rather than being told things like they ‘must try harder to find work’ ‘Their efforts aren’t good enough” etc etc. You get the jist.

 

I spoke to an older woman that unofficially cares for her son. He’s 46 years old, had to finish work because of a heart condition which is aggravated by stress. Instead of being able to heal he’s forced to comply with a system that is extremely complicated.

She told me that he had been confused with the computer system because no one had taken the time to correctly explain the procedure of handing in fitnotes and uploading them online onto his journal. He incorrectly was in the belief that it would be enough to just upload them to his Universal credit account online, he didn’t realise because he hadn’t been instructed correctly.

As a result his payments were delayed and he waited five months for his first payment. Yes an unwell man was forced to wait five months. Luckily his mother had helped him but this has put a fair amount of stress on their relationship. “ I shouldn’t have had to look after him, I’m a pensioner, but if he didn’t have me he might not have survived”. Correct, this a terrible reality for thousands of people.

 

I spoke to a man as he was leaving the Jobcentre. He was clutching a piece of paper and was clearly stressed. I stopped him and asked if I could help.

Whilst attending his appointment he was informed that he had to attend an interview for a course in an area that is quite a distance away from his home, indeed it isn’t even in Tameside. Walking would take a few hours and public transport is both expensive and complicated, there’s no straight route there. The journey would entail a tram journey into Manchester then a tram journey back out of Manchester and THEN a long walk.

Whilst some reading this might be under the impression that this is reasonable it clearly isn’t. He doesn’t have the money upfront to pay for the tram journey. He might be able to get this refunded but he has to pay upfront first. I did advise him to ask for help from the Jobcentre regarding this.  However his words were heartbreaking. “They are expecting me to do this for four weeks. I don’t know how I will get there, how I will be able to get there that early in the morning it seems impossible. We don’t all have cars and I don’t know what to do, so I will have to accept a sanction because I can’t do it. I’ll try but it’s going to be very hard”.

Another case of unreasonable demands on a poverty stricken person. To be honest it makes me feel sick, they are setting vulnerable people up to fail and they know it. But hey, anything to lower the unemployment figures eh….

 

This weeks problems are not unusual they are commonplace, this is replicated up and down the country and there is no doubt at all that thousands of people are being  forced to suffer needlessly. I say needlessly because there is no real excuse for treating people like this. The government have made a conscious decision to do so and in my eyes they’ve got blood on their hands.

 

Many thanks to everyone that came along to help. It’s been a very stressful week for myself and your support and solidarity has kept me going.

A huge thank you to my online friends and supporters, and also thank you to my friends in my local Labour Party, like I said its been a tough week and you ALL keep me going.

A massive thanks also to the readers of my blog and the supporters of my blog. I can’t thank you enough. Please read, share, rt and email my blog. We can’t allow this suffering to continue for much longer, it’s horrific.

 

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Bad landlords, bad communication, DWP intimidation. Universal credit strikes again.

Dear readers, its been a stressful week for myself however I don’t want to dwell on that, helping people today has ensured that I continue because helping people is the most important thing to me. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for helping me and being a support.

 

Anyway, coming back to today. The weather was cooler and we had a return of the northern rain, it never fails to do it’s best and we were caught out by it as were the people that we were helping.

To make it very clear, we helped and signposted everyone that we spoke to, no one was left in the lurch and we handed six food parcels out to hungry people. Universal Credit and the process of claiming it makes people hungry and depressed and we need to continue to be a support to them, remember this can happen to anyone, no one is immune from this system unless you are rich or are of means.

Universal Credit engulfs a person’s life, controls it and makes a person feel as if they have no control over their life anymore. In effect they don’t because if they don’t do as they are told they will be sanctioned and the DWP can withdraw their payments at any given time whether it be a computer glitch, a transfer over to Universal Credit or a sanction. The threat is there and all too real.

 

As soon as I arrived this morning Roy was already there having a conversation with a lady that I hadn’t seen before. She told me that upon applying for Universal Credit she had been advised that there was no sickness element within the Universal Credit framework. Luckily she knew that this wasn’t the case so she appealed this decision and won. She stated that they were nothing but a ‘bunch of liars, and they push you from pillar to post’. To be honest, this isn’t unusual but it shouldn’t be happening at all.

Her main problem today concerned a bad private landlord. She wanted to know if she could complain, and where to complain. Luckily a colleague of mine, a local councillor friend had a contact and found out straight away.

Her list of complaints concerning her landlord was a long one and no one should have to live like that. However with the absence of social housing people have no choice to choose this option and rogue landlords know this and take full advantage of this.

Her list consists of, the landlord refusing to do repairs, no electricity in the kitchen, mail tampering due to a communal mail area, damp living conditions, an infestation of rats and mice and a landlord that can let themselves in her home at any time they like.

This is how thousands of people are forced to live, mix this with the uncertainty of tenure its a complete nightmare. She was given details of how to make an official complaint and who to contact.

 

I spoke to a man who had just been transferred over to Universal Credit. He told me that the whole process has been a complete nightmare and in his words ‘Bloody awful’

 

I spoke to a woman that had just been made redundant, she was very nervous, had never been through the process before and is scared of going hungry. We advised her, gave her a survival guide and let her know that we are here to help her.

 

I spoke to a man that had failed his ESA assessment and  as a result had been forced to claim Universal Credit. He didn’t know about his right to appeal, and he only has 12 months to wait until he receives his pension. Let’s get real. No  one will employ a disabled older person, but the DWP will still continue to pursue him. They should leave him alone and everyone else in his position. The level of disrespect that the government shows our older population is disgusting and there is no excuse for it. But they don’t care so they will continue,

 

I spoke briefly to an older bemused lady. It was her first time visiting the Jobcentre, she had never been through the system before and had worked all her life. She hasn’t a clue how to use a computer and she’s struggling to understand it all.  In the past she would have been enjoying her pension, now she’s being tormented by the DWP and made to jump through constant, moving hoops.

 

We had an interesting conversation with a woman that wanted to share her sons experience of claiming Universal Credit with us. Her son had been working abroad in a European country for a few years, a zero hour contract with no chance of a permanent hours being given. His job sadly ended so he returned home and applied for Universal Credit. He was turned down at first because he was told that he couldn’t apply if he had been working abroad. Luckily he knew his rights and appealed this decision and won.

Claiming Universal Credit is often complicated, conflicting advice given, and appealing against any decision is very important. Don’t just take the DWP’s word for it, appeal and complain, you have the legal right to do so.

 

I spoke to a man leaving the Jobcentre. He muttered that he was ok, but being met by 5 DWP members of staff at the front desk was very intimidating. They asked him for proof of appointment, but did it in a way that could have made him feel anxious if he was so inclined. There’s no need at all for so many staff to be ‘guarding’ the doors. Maybe they are guarding the building against us, but we’ve never caused them a problem and Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre likes to over react at times. Kudos to the advisors working there that may have thought this to be ridiculous also.

 

We spoke to an older lady that complained about the cost of public transport. She has no choice but to rely on buses for transport, she lives miles away at the top end of Stalybridge, is older and not in good health. She wasn’t one of the lucky few to have been given a bus pass through Andy Burnhams scheme, so she has to pay full price. When you have nothing, bus fare can mean the difference between eating and surviving or not doing so. Bus fare is essential, buses shouldn’t be expensive and they should be regulated by the local authority. In the meantime people are suffering and to be honest it’s simply not acceptable is it.

 

This all happened within two hours, we tackled lots of differing problems and helped with them also. We do a lot of work, and we all do this on a voluntary basis because we want to help, we can’t abide suffering of any kind and we want the system to change. Come and join us one week we would welcome you with open arms.

 

Please read, share, email and talk about this blog. Be a friend to someone because being lonely is awful, and poverty isolates you. Talking is important.

Many thanks to everyone that came along and helped, you keep me going. Thank you Lorraine for helping even though I know that you aren’t well.

A huge thank you to everyone that reads and supports my blog and my work. Thank you so much.

 

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Photo taken at a previous demo.

No internet, don’t know how to use a computer, risk being sanctioned. Non payment of Universal Credit on promised date and no reponse to communication efforts. DWP system fails again.

Dear readers and new readers welcome to this weeks update. It’s been a busy week and as you will read things really aren’t getting better. I’m sorry if reading this depresses you but its the reality of the situation. The government are literally killing people in both body and mind. Sounds extreme? Well yes, THEY are extreme in their behaviour to the poorest and most vulnerable.

I’d also like to thank everyone for reading my blog, sharing and supporting my work. You really don’t know how much this means to me so thank you again.

 

Today we were met with a variety of problems, ranging from Universal Credit, ESA and PIP, housing etc. This is always the case, but we help it’s what we do.

 

The first woman that I spoke to is trying to support her children on effectively a zero income. She was forced to claim Universal Credit for the first time and was told eight weeks ago that she would recieve a payment at the end of last week. She didn’t and she’s tried phoning the DWP, has left messages in her DWP online account but NO ONE has responded. She’s at her wit’s end, and she feels like she’s in limbo. To say she is feeling defeated is an understatement. She’s done everything right but the system doesn’t regard this. It also doesn’t take into account that she has children. she’s just another number on their computer generated list.

Taking human interaction away from a person making a claim was never going to work. A computer can’t sense the urgency of any situation and they make mistakes. You simply cannot provide people with the help and support that they need. I feel that this was done purposely to put people off from claiming the social security that they quite rightly deserve.

We had a long chat and I referred her to local organisations. She told me that she’s not ready for that yet, she feels that she’s letting people down. I hope to encourage her to do so. I gave her a couple of food parcels and a hug.

 

I spoke to a man that is struggling with the computer based system. He had never used a computer before trying to apply for Universal Credit in his life. He knows that he’s failing but feels powerless to change that. He also has no mobile phone and the DWP send appointments via mobile phone messages now.

Today he was attending his appointment and asking his advisor if his appointments can be sent to his partners telephone. I also advised him to stress the point that he has no computer access at home and is computer illiterate. They cannot continue to assume that everyone has access to a computer or has computer skills, it’s ridiculous. Trying to feed yourself is priority not trying to get a computer from places such as Brighthouse and become encompassed in a never ending circle of debt. We, as society need to bring this back up in conversation, it’s important. People are going hungry because they either haven’t got a computer device or the knowledge of how to use the internet.

If they don’t use the computer system the reality of being sanctioned is very high yet they offer NO help with computer skills. It’s almost as if they want the most disadvantaged to fail at the first hurdle isn’t it.

We spoke to a woman that has a great deal of knowledge about the DWP system. She worked as a councillor listening to and helping people in a nearby town. She told me that she saw a massive increase in the numbers of people needing her Council Long services. More and more people of both sexes are feeling suicidal, depressed and can’t cope. Thanks to her dedication and hard work she helped people forced to live in extreme poverty.

I can’t respect her and everyone else that does this very hard job enough. They work extremely hard and save life’s. Unfortunately the government likes to strip away funding from these services and getting an appointment to see a councillor usually results in a very long wait.

 

I spoke to a woman that was leaving the Jobcentre. She told me that she was sick and tired of being treated with disrespect, her words were ‘being treated like dirt’. She’s correct, no one should be treated like this, everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

 

I spoke to a man that had been told to upload his CV onto the DWP system. He has hardly and computer skills and his family have few also. I signposted him to where he can get help and also advised him to inform the DWP that he doesn’t have the computer skills required. Will the DWP listen? I doubt it, but he needs to do this.

 

I spoke to a WASPI lady that was struggling to understand that she won’t receive her pension until shes older. It’s hard for her to understand and she’s angry. Of course she is they literally  robbed these women of their pensions. I signposted her and gave advice.

 

An older man muttered to me as he was leaving that he felt like he had just left boot camp but not a nice one. Yep it feels like that.

 

I gave advice to a man starting on the Workprogramme in the next week. He went off to do some research as I suggested. People need to know their legal rights and obligations Knowledge is power.

 

I spoke to an older man struggling with the Universal Credit system. He had to give up work due to illness and he told us that he hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing and how to cope. We advised and signposted him.

 

We spoke to a man that has found employment after eight years of job searching. It’s manual work and he is very happy at this. But it took him eight years to find this work. Please don’t tell me that there are plenty of jobs available and it’s easy to find work. It isn’t.

 

We spoke to a landlord that is worried about his tenants rent payments. His tenant has been switched over to Universal Credit and they aren’t recieving any rent for them now.

Sadly this is what happens under the Universal Credit system. Whilst awaiting a first payment you can’t receive housing benefit. This is causing mass homelessness, huge rent arrears and decent, caring landlords are suffering. This needs to change as a matter of urgency. No one deserves to loose their home because of the governments incompetance in looking after the most vulnerable.

 

This is only a snapshot of what happens on Thursday mornings, we are very busy. Can you imagine how many people around the country are suffering on a daily basis? it beggars belief. Please support this campaign and others like it. People need urgent help.

Our food parcels were taken in a matter of minutes, this is heartbreaking. All foodbanks are struggling and children are going hungry. It’s not acceptable.

 

Please support, share rt, share and email my blog. It’s important to share the real stories and the reality of the situation. Thank you to everyone that already does. You are my heroes.

We will be back again next week to do some more.

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