Christmas is cancelled for many claiming benefits at Ashton Jobcentre. Abusive passers by, DWP advisors knowingly giving out incorrect information. Advisor refusing to give food bank referral for vulnerable person. Welcome to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

 

Well what can I say, today’s demo was busy hectic and stressful and just about anything that could happen did happen. Ashton Jobcentre is certainly getting into the festive spirit in their sadistic way.

As I arrived at the Jobcentre a man was already waiting for me. We had spoken on the telephone the previous evening and he needed some advice, so thats what I did I gave him some advice. He requested that I accompany him to his appointment at the Jobcentre, but I couldn’t they won’t allow me inside the Jobcentre on Thursdays to represent people, even though I’m not a threat to them at all. Luckily a friend of mine arrived who said that she would gladly do this and accompanied with notes thats exactly what she did.

The gentleman that she was helping had been claiming ESA, but hadn’t received a letter notifying him of his medical. The DWP basically called him a liar, that they had no proof that he didn’t receive it so therefore they were stopping his payments. He had made a claim for a mandatory consideration but like readers will know many people get refused this also, so he is now appealing this decision.

The Jobcentre had called him in to make a claim for JSA but his advisor had told him that he was too ill to claim this so he must wait for his appeal… without any money. This happens a lot folks, but the DWP do not care, they are happy to send vulnerable people off into the world with no means of survival. He didn’t have any food, so we gave him a food parcel and referred him to other organisations in the area. I also gave him money for electric because without it he couldn’t cook the food that I had given him, nor keep warm. We are expecting some very cold weather so this is vital.

Upon attending his appointment with my colleague, he asked for a food parcel referral. He was refused on the grounds that they don’t do them. I know this to be a lie and so did my colleague so she challenged this. They repeated this on more than one occasion. They also refused to help him with much more except to give him a telephone number to phone, a number that the advisor was quite able to telephone herself. I know that this is the usual way of doing things but the system is disgusting and to deny a vulnerable person a foodbank referral is beyond disgusting and will be challenged further.

I then spoke to a man who wanted to sign our petition. He had waited 9 weeks to receive his first Universal Credit payment and he told me that he went through hell, and that he doubts that he will ever recover from this. Starving people into finding non existent work really does not work, although it does make people ill and could eventually kill them.

I spoke to a lady who was lodging with friends. She is an older lady and would love her own home but in her own words said ‘It’s not possible for me to do so. I couldn’t afford to keep my own home and at least my friends will feed me if I’m short of money. Without them I would be on the streets’

Shes been forced to sign on weekly whilst awaiting her claim for Universal Credit to go through, and she knows that this can take a long while. She was obviously distressed at having to sign on weekly and told me that she felt persecuted. Her advisor has no understanding that she cannot access a computer every day and when she does she struggles to use them. Regardless of this she still has to comply with a eight hour a day job search.

It was at that point when I was told to ‘Get a job” for the first time and that I am a scrounger. Lovely eh, but that wasn’t the only time that this happened today.

I then spoke to an older man who told me that he was having a horrible time whilst waiting for his Universal Credit payment to go through. He told me that he felt humiliated, depressed and a failure. Having to depend on foodbanks for help is the worst thing thats happened to him in his life he said. He had preciously worked and had never been unemployed before.

I was then told to ‘Get a job again, and to stop helping benefit scroungers. Why should you help them when all they need to do is to get a job. Don’t help the homeless either because they are scroungers as well.’ He then went on too say that he was unemployed but that didn’t matter, he is different. He applies for work.’ This is sadly the attitude of many and it’s not pleasant to hear. I spoke to him and gave him my opinion on the subject which I hope that he listened to and absorbed, but I doubt it somehow.

A claimant then told me of his friends experience of being sanctioned because he was having a pacemaker fitted on the day that his Jobcentre appointment had been made. He had informed them of his urgent operation, but they told him that his appointment was more important. He was sanctioned, he appealed and he won. It’s a way of punishing people and its cruel beyond measure.

It was then when an elderly lady marched over. She started shouting at ourselves and the claimants going into the Jobcentre, telling them that they were all scroungers, and that I was one as well. I asked her politely to stop shouting and to move away because she was upsetting people. She said no, she wouldn’t she wanted to have her say. A homeless chap that I know walked over and asked me if I was ok, I said yes and he gave me a hug, I really needed that. I then told her to move away, that we wern’t listening to her abuse any longer and she eventually left. We’ve met her before and she said exactly the same things that time as well, except that time her so called scrounger neighbours were the problem.

It’s important to challenge these attitudes peacefully all the time, however I can never condone violence.

As we were handing out leaflets I saw an older man trying to cross the road. He was very thin, was using a walking stick and nearly fell twice. I dashed over, helped him across the road and helped him to catch his breath. I asked him where he was going and he told me that he was going to do his shopping but had taken ill. He was really struggling. So I asked him if he would like to go home if I paid for a taxi, he said yes so I helped him into a taxi.

This all happened in the space of two hours, the weather was cold and people are really suffering out there. I wish that I had a magic wand so that I could change everything, give everyone a decent quality of life, make sure that everyone has a home to live in, food to eat and a nice warm home. It’s appalling that more and more people will be denied this before Christmas, thousands of children also. I always think about everyone who is suffering because ‘But for the grace of god go I’

A massive thank you to everyone that came to the demo today I know that I expect a lot from you.

A big thanks to Roy for bringing the next batch of leaflets.

Thank you to everyone who reads, shares and supports my blog. The past three weeks have been extremely busy and the work certainly does not end on Thursdays, for myself that is the start of yet another busy week.

Please donate if you can! Thank you so much!

 

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8 1/2 month pregnant lady told to attend parenting course on the threat of a sanction. Man forced onto a 2 week course 5 days a week at the Jobcentre 9-4. Welcome to Universal Credit hell.

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Can I start this weeks blog by saying how angry I am at this system that the government likes to call ‘Benefits’. Change the name, make it sound different then stigmatise the vulnerable people that are in desperate need of help. That’s exactly how this government rolls isn’t it. Today was just awful and there are no excuses that can be made to justify the governments deplorable behaviour against the poor. I do feel that it is a war against the poor and at the moment they have the upper hand. This cannot be allowed to continue for forever can it.

Anyway, you don’t want to hear my rant but it’s how I feel. But remember its not ‘Benefits’ it’s ‘Social Security’.

I arrived at the Jobcentre and was met by two Journalists from BBC North West, I do believe that the presenter was one of the two chaps but because I don’t have a television I wouldn’t really know. He seemed nice enough and they both were freezing cold. They actually stuck it out for the whole two hours, so kudos to them I just hope that the report is favourable.

The first chap that I spoke to was annoyed. He told me that he hated the Jobcentre, hated their attitude and just about everything about it. He’s trying his best to cope with the relentless system that just doesnt let a person rest at all.

Not content with his endless job searching looking for non existent and unsuitable jobs, they have put him on a two week course which is from 9-4 five days a week to teach him how to job search. He will then have to also do his allocated quota of job searching or he will be sanctioned. It never ends does it. he knows how to look for a job, he is doing so already but the government likes to spend thousands upon thousands on these dodgy companies to so called train these people. Make no mistake this is done purposely to remind a claimant of their place, to keep them demoralised and to not let them get ideas above their station.

The food parcels then arrived, along with some extra ones donated by Pat and the gang from Glossop. They were all taken and were needed. Along with the food parcels everyone was given a leaflet and encouraged to attend local outreach places where they can access further help if required.

I then spoke to a lady who’s niece and her family of three children and partner are going to have to wait over 6 weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. I gave her a food parcel, a leaflet and also I encouraged her aunt to access the support available. As many people will know a person or family that have been transferred over to Universal Credit or have made a new claim most likely will not receive a payment until at least the 28th of January. Yes they can get an advance payment however this still has to be paid back at 40% until the rule changes are implemented. This might be in February but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I can’t find any reason why they can’t implement this sooner, however as we know they like being cruel.

My friend Kevin then appeared. He had travelled miles to join us, and he found this difficult however he did because he saw the need to. Why? to give people solidarity. He brought a lovely gift to give to someone needing it, which I did and you will read about this below.

Kevin is just fab! Big shoutout for Kevin and a huge thank you from the team!

I then spoke to a lovely lady who is having a very hard time of it. She had no money, no food (or very little) and at the time didn’t know which way to turn. The DWP do not help a person, they don’t give sympathy they just rubber stamp everything and send a claimant out. It’s a cruel harsh system.

I spoke to her and we both ended up crying, she was so nice and certainly didnt deserve to be treated like this. I gave her a hug and a much needed food parcel. I also handed over the lovely present that Kevin had brought with him and she was so happy. This is what it’s all about folks, helping people, giving solidarity, advice, and we are lucky that we can hand out food parcels. She later contacted me me to let me know that she was ok and I cried again. I’ll share the post, but I will not divulge personal details unless I get permission.

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It was then that things got a whole lot worse. We stopped a lady who was leaving the Jobcentre to give her a leaflet etc. She told us that her sister was inside the Jobcentre and she had been refused entry to accompany her. Her sister is 8 1/2 months pregnant and had been told to attend a mandatory appointment for a parenting course. I find this totally ridiculous and abhorrent. This lady already has an older child, there is no history of any family troubles and she takes good care of her child and unborn child. Ignoring these facts, she was told that she had to attend or face being sanctioned.

As you can imagine her sister was furious as was I. People reading this might say.. “Oh but there’s rules”. Well I can tell you that when a person is claiming Universal Credit these rules are flouted quite blatantly all the time. This is why Universal Credit cannot be fixed because its corrupt and created to fail people, its inherrant to it’s design. STOP, SCRAP and design a new system that actually works. But hey what do we know, we’ve only experienced Universal Credit for over four years now.

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried again upon hearing her story when she left the Jobcentre. The DWP will not leave her alone, she feels constantly harassed, is still being told at 8 1/2 months pregnant that she has to look for jobs in Manchester and is so stressed that she is being prevented from enjoying her pregnancy.

Readers will know that my daughter had a similar fate when pregnant, as have many other pregnant ladies. For attending a Workfare interview at B&Q, telling them that she was 23 weeks pregnant she recieved a 3 year sanction. This has been featured in the media quite heavily in the past. However, I get very upset when a pregnant lady is treated this way. The DWP have no respect for anyone let alone an unborn child.

This my friends is how evil Universal Credit is.

I gave her our last food parcel, a leaflet and encouraged her to try and attend any of the local outreach organisations available.

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BBC North West Interviewing the heavily pregnant lady.

We also spoke to many more people. We helped lots of people, had chats with local folk that were passing by and handed out lots of leaflets. The weather was cold but our spirits were high.

Many thanks to everyone that came along today to our demo, you all keep me going and you are all amazing! Also happy birthday to John, we did a wonderful rendition of Happy Birthday which was well recieved.

To be honest I’ve had an awful week, I don’t want to talk about myself too much it’s boring. However I do need to ask a question. I enjoy blogging, I need to get the word out to people and I do not want to change my blogging platform, I can’t really lots of people follow it and I really do not want to loose readers. I was always under the impression that the free version was unlimited, but it isn’t. I’ve used 75% of my available space and I can’t afford to pay for the subscription. However the subscription would be much better because I could add my future podcasts to it etc.

Any ideas are more than welcome, but I can’t leave WordPress.

Please read, share, talk about my blog. Talk about the issues that I write about. I’m more than a bit worried that Universal Credit and the suffering that people are having to endure will become normalised like the Bedroom Tax and the Council Tax supplement have been. Let’s keep the pressure on the government.

Sadly I never stop now, my whole life is revolved around this campaign and my daughter. Any donations are most welcome. Thank you so much to every one of my readers and supporters that already have and do. Thank you.

My paypal button isn’t working so my ad is seercharlotte@gmail.com

Thank you.

Disabled wheelchair user denied ESA payments. Horrendous Universal Credit waiting times. Today’s demo.

Well what can I say about today except that it was extremely busy and very cold. It appears that Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre have upped their targeting of claimant techniques, most likely because they are now meeting the claimants that have been transferred over from nearby recently closed Jobcentre, Stalybridge. Far too many of the claimants that I have been speaking to have been telling me how awful Ashton Jobcentre is compared to what Stalybridge was like, I’ve even heard murmurings from the DWP staff that were transferred that they dislike it. Sadly this isnt a surprise is it.

 

The food parcels arrived with Gordon of which I was really thankful for. So many people are experiencing the well known delays in waiting for a Universal Credit claim to go through, and also far more people than I have noted in the past are failing their ESA medicals. When this happens a person doesn’t receive any more payments, and in the case of Universal Credit obtaining an advance payment can also be hard. People still become hungry in the process so we feed them, we signpost them and very soon will be handing out warm clothes or referring them to places where they can obtain warm clothing.

Can I say that I hate winter, when you are poor there is nothing nice about it. People go into survival mode because as we know the combination of the cold and hunger kills people every year. It seems to never end, especially for those that are street homeless or forced to live in homes that they cannot afford to heat. Many cannot make the choice between heating or eating because they can do neither, and with Christmas on the horizon, thousands of new Universal Credit claimants will be in this postition, yet Theresa May seems to find this amusing.

 

I found it hard today especially because I developed a migraine en route to the demo, so my apologies if this blog isn’t up to scratch. Anyway I digress. Today was a tough day, so many people needing help which sadly isn’t unusual.

Here is a short list of some of the people that I and my colleges spoke to today.

 

The first gentleman that I spoke to was in the midst of claiming Universal Credit. He was astounded at how rude and unhelpful the staff were to him and to others, he just didnt understand how the DWP staff could act in this manner because it’s totally alien to him. He told me that he was brought up to respect others and to help them also and quite rightly so. He noted that we need to carry on educating people of their rights, because this empowers them and it’s one way of changing things. He also told us that he was so glad that we were there for people, because we are needed and to not give up.

 

 

I spoke to a man who has waited well over a month for his Universal Credit claim to go through. We know that this isn’t unusual, its been all over the news and we have known about this for around 4 years now. Being a pilot area for Universal Credit has it’s disadvantages because we have suffered for so long now that I’ve almost forgotten what its like not to live like this.

Not only was he hungry, hes been having a lot of hassle from his neighbours and the windows on his flat have been smashed. His landlord is refusing to fix them, stating that he has to pay to have them fixed first then they will refund him. We told him that this is not only ridiculous it is almost unheard of. He rents his property from a larger housing association and they should fix them. Maybe they are being prejudicial because he owns rent due to his Universal Credit delay, who knows. But we advised him that this is wrongful of them and we told him where to got to get some advice and to deal with this. Poor man, he didn’t ask for any of this to happen to him, nobody does do they.

 

 

I spoke to a young man who was attempting to make a new claim for Universal Credit. He had already checked to see what ID was needed when he attended his appointment and he brought it with him today. However, his advisor told him that because one of his proof of IDs didnt include his postcode then it didn’t count. This was an official letter from his solicitor.

To say that he was annoyed was an understatement. He was clearly hungry, so I made sure that he was given a food parcel, along with that I gave him some much needed help and advice and had a good conversation with him. He told me that he was finding the whole process far too daunting, that he had felt like giving up but knowing that we were there and spoke to him like a human being has given him hope. I also spoke to his sister, who for reasons that I cannot say publicly needed a food parcel also for her and her son. My heart went out to her and I could relate totally to her because I have walked the same path as she is doing now and it will get better for her.

His words were “I can’t believe that you have spoken to me like I am human, that I matter and that you care. They don’t inside that building, they don’t have any respect for us, thank you so, so much.” And this is exactly why we do what we do.

 

 

A lady, sat in her wheelchair was sheltering from the rain with her son. She called me over so I went to have a chat with her. She told me that she had been given zero points at her recent ESA assessment, even though she is very clearly unable to work. Yes I know that this isnt unusual sadly. I handed her a food parcel because she hasn’t had any money for over a week to buy food, with that I gave her some good advice and told her to contact her local MPS office asap. In my eyes this decision can and must be overturned and he can do this far quicker than any other organisation. She said that she would do this, but we had to leave before she came out of the Jobcentre. I really hope that she is ok because this should never have happened to her and the thousands of disabled people that are denied their rightful claim to ESA and PIP everyday throughout the country everyday.

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I also spoke to several older ladies, all disabled that have recently failed their ESA medicals. They wern’t aware that they could appeal because their advisor hadn’t told them this, they thought that they had no option but to go through the Universal Credit, JSA rigmarole. They all were unhappy but found out words comforting.

 

 

I spoke to a local homeless chap who has had a bit of good luck and will hopefully be housed and living a far better life. I speak to him everyday, and usually buy him a cuppa. It was lovely seeing him wearing a nice new warm coat and having a whole new outlook on life. Many thanks to the guys from the local organisations for this, and also the magic of Facebook. Sometimes it can work miracles.

 

 

Many thanks for everyone that attended today, numbers were low but spirits were high. Thank you so much! Time to find some thermal underware when funds allow!

Also thanks to the wonderful Sasha for joining us today, more about that in the future. But I can say that I will hopefully be starting a weekly podcast in the near future.

I’ll end this here, because I have to go and collect my daughter from school. Remember that this is only a small snapshot of what we do on a Thursday and my work doesn’t end when I’ve finished writing this blog, infact its just the beginning of my week.

 

Please read, share and talk about my blog this is so important.

For anyone wishing to donate, every penny helps and my paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com

 

Remember that we are all one step away from being caught up in this evil, pernicious system that likes to destroy people. Please support us in whatever way that you can do, support my blog because it is vital that we gert as much information out there about the reality of this system as possible.

Thank you!

 

 

We need to stop Universal Credit. How many deaths will it take?

Ok, I’ve been writing this blog for a long while now, but not as long as I have been holding demonstrations. It’s hard work, stressful and can seem like its never ending. For years it seemed few wanted to listen, we have an awful ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude in this country, and it seemed that it was acceptable that vulnerable people were being targeted by a cruel and heartless system called Universal Credit.

Let’s get it right. Universal Credit doesn’t work, it’s purposely designed not to. What it is designed to do is to punish a person for being poor or disabled, even elderly. It is not designed to help. You can more or less take that thought out of your head, therefore taking away any expectation of having a system that supports you. It doesn’t, isn’t designed to and never will do for as long as it exists.

It’s ok when you arent caught up in the system or see the reality of the system to say ok, let’s pause it we can make it better. As long as this government is in power, and as long as this system exists this won’t happen, and it won’t be allowed to happen either.

Universal Credit is by default intended to be complicated to access because they don’t want people to access it. They want people off the unemployment register by any means possible, hence the difficulty applying. This also explains the extraordinarily long waiting time. It’s this long for a reason and that reason being is to put people off from applying. You’re telling me that they didn’t invest an extortionate amount of money creating this to create so called mistakes straight away. This leads me into telling you that there are no mistakes in the Universal Credit system. There never has been because it has all been created purposely and they only attempt to change something and call it a mistake because they’ve been caught out, they know that they’ve gone too far so have to appease the opposition.

Universal Credit is regarded a massive success by the government, because it is in their eyes. Remember this.

However this doesnt stop the cruelty. For over 4 years now I, and others have stood in cold weather talking to people, helping them, feeding them and even clothing them. Why? Because Universal Credit quite honestly has killed people, starved people and has driven people to suicide. The DWP staff often don’t have a clue about the rules, maybe some do and there are some good advisors out there, kudos to you if you are reading this and are one of them. Respect to you for keeping strong.

However the dark side of Universal Credit lurks behind any good advisor, because in the end the target driven, punishing system continues to put pressure on advisors to implement wrongful decisions towards claimants, and some don’t mind doing it.

I really don’t see how it would be possible to fix a system such as this, when it is designed by default to not work, to punish people for their poverty. The rules are impossible to keep, nevermind keep on top of because they are designed to fail people and the DWP changes the goalposts all the time.

Because the rules are so cruel and pernicious many vulnerable people have died. Every day, and every week I say both to myself and outside the Jobcentre ‘How many deaths will it take for anyone to take enough notice to make this a priority?’

And yes, I no longer see people because they have taken their own life’s. That will never leave me, a system so cruel that no one is punished when a life is lost, no one held really accountable. In the instances where there is a coroners report, the DWP and government just shrug their shoulders, put their fingers in their ears and more or less say ‘We can’t hear you’. They do this because they arent being held accountable.

I’m a member of the Labour Party, and I’m fully supportive of Jeremy Corbyn, he knows this, but I must ask him to rethink the pause and fix idea for Universal Credit. I have reasons for this.

Every pause so far has been ignored, our complaints about this have been ignored. When the government get the whiff of a suggestion of a pause being suggested by the opposition, they speed up the roll out and ensure that everything is done anyway.

We need a clear message to be sent to the government. We need to STOP the  Universal Credit roll out and reform it completely, even change the name and create a new system similar to the old one that has none of the cruel elements of Universal Credit. Because whilst Universal Credit exists then cruelty will exist. It’s doing the governments job perfectly for them.

Whilst you might not agree with me, please try to understand my reasons for my saying this. I’m very well versed on Universal Credit four years of experience have ensured this. I’m also well educated on the governments tactics, I study them because ultimately they’ve become my enemy, and I’m not stupid either. Campaigners like myself arent stupid. We often know legislation and how things work better  than some cabinet MPs.

I told the man that was told today that he wasn’t entitled to claim Universal Credit or any benefit by his so called advisor when he clearly is and will now be doing so, because the system wasn’t working for him.

I told the elderly couple, that they shouldnt have been called in for an appointment, that the system is cruel. one of which was disabled that had been called into the Jobcentre because someone had reported him for working whilst claiming ESA. He hadn’t of course, he’s unable to do so. This system has created a neighbourhood spy system, where a person is reported for no reason except that the government and the media have portrayed people like this gentleman to be a scrounger therefore undeserving,

I comforted the older people, who should be enjoying their retirement that they were being wrongfully treated because the system has been created to punish them.

I spoke to the young mothers with very young babies and told them that they shouldn’t have to be under the thumb of a cruel system that won’t allow them to  spend time with their young babies, instead they have to stick to the Jobcentres harsh regime.

We handed  out six food parcels to people to feed people, to basically keep them alive. People are dying a lot because of these reforms, but many aren’t being reported in the news.

Universal Credit represents everything that is wrong with this world. The government has been given full reign to target the poorest and most vulnerable, made them a target of hate for the media and some mainstream newspapers. No one has been held accountable and responsible for this and it is about time that they were.

We need to stop this system and stop it asap, because how many more deaths will it take? And lets get back a fair, non punishing system that actually helps people. Because help is what people need not punishment. Let the tax avoiding companies and people be punished not the innocent people that have been punished far too much.

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I’m writing this blog from my winter office which is Ikea I can get free wifi and a free brew. Winter is an expensive time for many of us, thousands are making the choice of heating or eating. We can’t just put a sticking plaster over this and play platitudes. We need to challenge this as much as we can do.

 

 

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Today’s demo. ‘Leave your job as a part time teaching assistant and become a cleaner instead’

Sorry the blog is a bit late today, I’ve had an extremely busy week and I haven’t had time to think about much else other than Universal credit. You see the campaign doesn’t end when the demo finishes and I’ve published my blog. There’s so much more that goes into it, and anyone that runs a campaign will verify that.

 

I haven’t been sleeping well, which doesn’t help. I’ve been suffering from bouts of insomnia lately, but I can’t grumble because at least I’m lucky enough to have a bed to sleep in, thousands haven’t.

Anyway enough about me, I’m sure that you don’t want to hear my worries but I needed to vent a tad.

 

 

I arrived slightly early, and it was cold, really cold. It was a sharp reminder that winter is here and my heart goes out to everyone who is homeless or cannot afford gas and electric. This is going to be an even bigger problem this year with more and more people stripped of any money that they might have spent on this. There are energy banks in existence, but sadly I don’t think that there are any in the area where I live and help out. This needs addressing asap.

 

 

I was immediately stopped by an older gentleman, he didnt need any help he just wanted to say hello. He told me to keep up the good work. I thanked him and he went on to tell me that he used to work in a Jobcentre. He really enjoyed the job and liked helping people. He told me that was the job remit then.

He went on to say that as time moved on things started to change for the worst, and he was put under a lot of pressure. So much so that it made him ill. He made the decision that he had to leave, it was either that or his sanity, he couldnt cope any longer. He told me that it’s esssential that we carry on our work because now the system is all about punishing people and not helping them.  We said goodbye and he left.

 

 

I spoke to a lady who had made the mistake of attempting to take a drink into the Jobcentre. Remember folks, they will make you take a drink outside and they expect you to turn off your mobile phone if you are lucky enough to have one. This is wrong and is clearly a tactic to undermine people.

 

 

Gordon dropped off the foodparcels which were taken very quickly.

 

A young man dressed in inadequate clothing for the weather was standing a few yards away looking at them, I could tell from his whole demeanour that he was hungry and needed help. So I walked over to him and had a chat. His circumstances are pretty dire, and he is waiting for his failed ESA medical appeal to go through. The Jobcentre have deemed him too unfit to claim JSA or UC in the meantime so he’s in limbo. Many people are and it’s awful.

I had a chat with him and explained what we do to him. I also informed him of the local organisations that he can access so that he won’t be as isolated, Isolation is a huge problem. He listened, and took a food parcel. I Hope that he is ok.

 

 

I spoke to the lady whom I accompanied to her ESA medical the other week. She was smiling and told me that she has been put in the support group. That did make me happy and I explained to her what that means.

 

 

I spoke to an elderly lady who has been waiting a long time for the attendance allowance that she had applied for. I told her that she needs to go and see her local MP asap because she shouldn’t be in this situation, and it sounded like they are giving her the run around. I really do hope that she contacts her MP who is a very good MP.

 

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I spoke to a lady who is on Universal Credit and is working part time at a school as a teaching assistant. Because she is claiming Universal Credit she still has to sign on. It’s awful because the DWP see a person working like this as underemployed and of no value at all.

She told me that her advisor had been particularly cruel today. As soon as she sat down to talk to her advisor, the advisor started to speak in an aggressive tone giving her orders. One being that she should leave her job as a valued teaching assistant and get a job as a cleaner instead. The lady told me that she couldnt believe what her so called advisor was telling her to do. She was also told to complete various other unreasonable tasks.

I gave her my sympathy and also told her how to make a complaint about her advisor and how to request a new one. Everyone has a legal right to do this but they won’t tell a claimant this.

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I spoke to an older lady who has been living in a tent locally with a friend. She told me that she has ran out of places to sofa surf so shes now living full time in a tent.

I have spoken to this lady before, but she hadn’t been living in a tent then. I had a good long chat with her and told her that she must access the help of a local organisation today. Shes vulnerable and no one should have to live like this. She told me that she would do so I hope that she has done.

Homelessness amongst women is a huge problem. The reasons for this vary largely but many women are homeless because they have fled a violent relationship and I’m appalled at the lack of facilities for homeless women, and street homeless women in this country. But for the grace of god I’m not in this situation. Please spare a thought for anyone in this situation.

 

 

We spoke to lots more people, far too many to mention here and every person was dealt with the upmost respect and love. Remember this can happen to anyone and I mean anyone. Don’t judge someone because they are going through a tough time, try and become their friend instead because thats what they need instead of judgement.

Regardless of the weather I and other memebers of the team will be returning next week as we always do. Please come and join us if you can we would love that.

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Many thanks to all the members of the team, everyone that reads my blog, shares my Facebook posts, tweets my tweets on twitter, and who puts up with my moaning.

Also many thanks to The Peoples Assembly and Manchester TUC for putting up with me for many years now.

I’ve been so busy this week like I said. It’s been a week full of meetings, writing and telephone calls. And I’m equally as busy this weekend so if I’m slow at responding that is why and I apologise.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Even print a copy out and send it to a Tory MP or email them a copy. We need to keep reminding them of the cruelty that they are inflicting upon the most vulnerable in society.

 

I’m still having problems with my donation button, so here is my PayPal add. Thank you to everyone that has supported both the campaign and myself so far. It mean the world.

seercharlotte@gmail.com

Today’s demo. Why are we still here? Because people need help. Massive queues for council tax debt outside the Magistrates Court.

I woke today with a migraine, not something that you might be interested in, but if I make a few mistakes writing this then that is why. So my apologies.

 

Once again, its autumn, and although it looks pretty, it’s starting to get cold, so please think of those that cannot afford a winter coat, new winter boots etc. Winter is a very hard time of the year, in fact the hardest for everyone living in poverty, whether it is a disabled person struggling to get buy on a meagre income, a single parent struggling to get by, an elderly person unable to heat their home. We are all in the same boat, an awful one and hopefully sometime soon things will change.

 

 

Gordon arrived with the food parcels and so we started our demo. When I tell you that people are in desperate need I mean it. No one would either ask for or accept a food parcel if they weren’t desperate. But they all were given to folk that desperately needed them. They were all given advice, solidarity, compassion and were signposted to local organisations or local MPs. This is all a very important part of our work. We cannot just put a sticking plaster over it and expect everything to be ok. It won’t be, and reaching out to people when they are at their lowest is very important, as is empowering them to make them able to deal with the devil which is the DWP.

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Here’s a run down of occurrences from todays demo. Please note, names and contact details of all persons concerned are confidential at their request and will remain so at their request.

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I was stopped by a man whom I was handing a leaflet to and was told that there was a massive queue outside the Magistrates Court. I asked why, and he told me that these people were in debt with their council tax due to universal credit. ‘It’s evil he said, people can’t survive and now they are scared that they will be taken to prison for non payment’.

Normally I would have rushed down to the magistrates court, but I was unable to because we were low on numbers at the demo and I was needed there. But what I can say is that this is wrong. How on earth can people afford to pay their council tax when they are either waiting for or receiving universal credit? I know that allowances are made when you are applying for benefits, but a person still has to pay a portion of council tax. This is not helped by the universal credit system which despite what the conservative party says, is not running smoothly at all. Not one department knows what the other is doing, they don’t communicate and they haven’t got a clue about the rules and regulations. However, they are fully aware of when and how to stop a persons money rendering them penniless.

My heart went out to the people in the queue, because I’ve been there in that queue in the past and I also owe council tax. It’s a complete nightmare.

 

 

 

 

I spoke to a partially sighted man who struggles to be able to read. He has told Ashton Jobcentre and the DWP that all appointments etc have to be given by telephone, they have refused to send him large print letters so that he can read them. He told me that he is sick to death of telling them to do this. I advised him of his rights as a disabled person and that he should visit his MP to discuss this. He told me that he would be doing so.

Once again, it’s very important to seek help from outside organisations, and if you have a good MP then consult them. The DWP really hate an MP becoming involved, trust me they hate it.

 

 

 

I spoke to an older WASPI lady who told me that she was struggling but carrying on. She’s a lovely  lady who is just doing her best to manage within an unmanageable  system. We had a chat, gave her some reassurance and gave her a food parcel.

 

 

We spoke to a young man who was very knowledgeable about how the DWP system is ran, and the rules and regulations. He knows his stuff, he knows his legal rights and he is a corrupt advisors worst nightmare.

He told us that he had been forced to use the computers upstairs in the Jobcentre, despite having access to a computer at home and being very competent at doing so. They like to make people feel worthless and to know their place don’t they.

Anyway, he logged into the system and it kept saying error, which he thought was strange because he had never had any problems at home doing so. He returned home and he had received an email from Microsoft telling him that his security had been breached. This is not good at all, and the system that the DWP are currently using in their Jobcentres might be being seen as a security risk by internet servers. This is an issue that we need to keep an eye on folks, let me know if this has happened to you also.

 

 

 

A man walked out smiling and said ‘I’ve just had the pleasure of telling the Jobcentre to f off…. I’ve found a job’. We all cheered for him. What a fantastic feeling that must have been.

 

 

 

I spoke to a young man and his girlfriend who had made the mistake of trying to take hot drinks into the Jobcentre. They were completely new to the system and didn’t understand why they were being treated like this. Basically, it’s just not on is it as they say in Manchester.

 

I spoke to women with very young babies, older men telling me how awful the system is,  basically lots of people. It’s hard work but whilst people need help, and while this rotten system is in place I will continue to be there for everyone that needs me and the team.

 

A massive thank you to the members of the team that turned up to support the demo, it really does mean a lot. We were low on number again today, so please, if anyone is able to, come and join us on Thursdays between 10-12. We are really friendly and you will get a warm welcome.

 

 

 

I will continue to write my blog, lobby people and do everything alongside this campaign that is essential but isn’t necessarily seen by others. This is very important and by continuing to put pressure on the government and opposition MPs we are starting to make changes. This isn’t easy though and this and everything else has ensured that I have little free time now, and no money for luxuries so apologies if  I am slow in responding to people. This is why. I’m a single parent trying to juggle everything.

This week I have had a poorly daughter and have represented a person at their ESA medical. It’s been busy.

 

 

Check out The Morning Star tomorrow for my latest article tomorrow. I do not get paid for this, but I really enjoy writing, and the newspaper has helped my campaign so much.

A massive thank you to everyone that reads and supports my blog. You are all amazing, and please keep sharing.

 

 

Thank you!

My paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com

Thank you!

If it wasn’t for your help today I was considering committing suicide. I can’t take anymore. Today’s demo.

Today was extremely busy, mainly because we now have a new influx of people needing help that had previously been signing on at Stalybridge Jobcentre which has recently been shut down. The impact of a Jobcentre shutting down is massive and it can’t be underestimated, especially in rural areas. How on earth can they expect claimants to walk miles to their nearest Jobcentre is beyond me. But i do know that this is a calculated and cruel move by the government to make it extremely hard for a claimant to fulfil their Jobseekers Agreement, therefore resulting on more sanctions etc.

Here is an awful case that shows that combined with bad advice, a lack of compassion and Universal Credit can and does ruin a persons life.

Please note that this is a true, honest account, and nor am I passing on any personal details as requested.

As soon as I arrived I saw a man shuffling out of the Jobcentre, I could see that he was unhappy and needed help. After four years I’ve learnt to recognise the signs.

As soon as I said hello to him, he started to tell me about his problems. He will remain nameless for respect for him and also so that he doesn’t get any repercussions from the DWP.

He told me that he had been sanctioned again, he didn’t know why and his advisor wouldn’t tell him either. He was told to phone up the 0345 number which at the moment costs a person up to 55p a min to phone. He waited for ages to speak to someone and then he ran out of credit, so now he can’t use his phone.

He had always worked since the age of 15, until he had a heart attack five years ago. this left him unable to work so upon advice given he then claimed ESA. This was going ok for a while until he attended an ATOS medical, when they declared him fit for work. He clearly wasn’t. So he appealed this decision, won his appeal and reclaimed his ESA.

The stress of this didn’t do him any good so he became ill and had to be admitted to hospital for a heart related illness. The consultant advised him to stay away from stressful situations. Easier to say than do though, especially when he was called up for another ESA medical.

They declared him fit for work so he then went to the Jobcentre to try and claim Jobseekers Allowance until his appeal was accepted. However his advisor told him that he had to claim Universal Credit. He had no choice and nor could he appeal the ESA decision. We know that this is wrong, but this is what they are doing to people folks.

He then went ahead made his claim and was told that he had to work, he had no choice. So against his consultants decision he found a 16 hour a week job, which was supposedly topped up by Universal Credit.

He ended up far worse off financially because the way that universal credit is worked out it actually makes a person worse off in work and he was effectively working for 33p a hour.

Then his hours were reduced to 10 a week. He knew that he couldn’t survive on this, and he also knew that he would be punished by the Universal Credit system for the decision that was made by his employer. He was told to find more hours to work or there was a possibility that he would be sanctioned.

As a result he became ill because of the stress and couldn’t cope. He has subsequently been sanctioned and has had no money for a few weeks.

Straight away I reassured him that we are here for him, that we can help him. He told me that he was close to committing suicide, and was serious about it, but our kindness has made him rethink this. He didn’t think that anyone would help, because no one cared. I told him that we do care and that we would help him to sort this out.

I gave him a food parcel which he was overjoyed at recieving, I don’t think that he has eaten anything decent for a while. I then telephoned his local MPS office and asked his team if they could see him asap. Because his case is complicated, and there is more to it than I have explained above, seeing his MP is essential. There’s nothing like a letter from an MP to get things moving, because if there is one thing that the DWP hate is an MP becoming involved in a case. I did also inform him of other local organisations, but he said that he wasn’t ready for them yet but maybe he will be after he has spoken to his MPs office.

I know that he will be treated with the upmost respect when he meets them, and they are a great team. Remember folks, go and see your MP if you can. Even if they are Conservative, because they need to hear your problems, even if some won’t deal with it then need to hear them. I’m now confident that his life will improve.

A massive thank you to Andrew Gwynnes office for helping.

I was then stopped by two gentlemen, they both looked undernourished and unwell. They asked for a food parcel each, and they told me that they had been sanctioned. I gave them both a food parcel and advised them to go to a local organisation that can help them further, and help them to reclaim their life’s.

I spoke to a person who had had their ESA stopped because they had asked to change their appointment, they agreed to do so and they then stopped their ESA. This is clearly wrong, so I telephoned my local MPS office and they is now getting the advice and help that they need. I also gave them a food parcel.,

Many thanks to Angela Rayner’s team for their help. Because this is also a complicated case it was appropriate that they get help from our MP.

I spoke to a man who had been sanctioned, he wasn’t very clear on why, but he was clear about the fact that he isn’t getting the help that he needs. Because he is getting some support from one organisation, another organisation is refusing to work with him because they don’t want to cross paths. But here is the problem, he cannot access a food parcel from them now. So I gave him a food parcel, some advice and signposted him to a local organisation that will work with him, and he will gain some confidence. Sometimes bureaucracy is our biggest battle.

I then spoke to a man who’s wife had recently died. He had never signed on before and had always worked. I had a good chat with him, reassured him, gave advice and signposted him to a local organisation where I know he will enjoy.

We then spoke to a young person who was 10 minutes late for their appointment due to their bus being late. They were aware of the possibility of being sanctioned, so we advised them, had a good chat and hopefully they will stay in touch.

We also spoke to many more people, most confused or angry, some both. We offer help, advice and foodparcels but we never ever just put a sticking plaster so to speak over their problems. We need to help them constructively and empower them. I then campaign, and do a lot fo work to challlenge this system and those in charge of it. Because it is just as important to do this.

We will be back next week and thank you to everyone for your kind messages and tweets of support. You all, and the team who are nothing short of amazing, keep me going.

Please share, tweet, talk about my blog and our campaign as much as possible. This is very important, because unless we tell the world about this no one will know how awful this system is.

The team holding Ray Woolfords book Foodbank Britain. And my first meeting with Elvis, the newest member of the team, my friends hearing assistance dog.

Here is my paypal add if anyone would like to daonate. I’m having trouble with the button which I can’t seem to rectify ATM.

Its seercharlotte@gmail.com.

Apologies for the inconvenience.