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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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No electric, no food, failed ESA medicals. This weeks blog.

Dear readers, can I please apologise for the lateness of my blog this week. After the demo, we went for a cuppa to warm up and then went to a meeting. This took time, but it was essential. More news about this at a later date if everything goes to plan.

I’ve had a busy week, and combined with not feeling well it’s been tough. I made a short appearance on The Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday morning (25th Jan 2016.)  Discussing the need for free school meals for all children, not just years 1 and 2. A doctors appointment has also been made for tomorrow so hopefully all will be well soon. Anyway enough about me.

I arrived slightly early because I was expecting a visitor at the demo. A lovely man named Stuart who wanted to come and help out. I jumped at the chance, its lovely meeting new people and he didn’t hang around, he got stuck right in and started to help. He has knowledge of where some work is available locally so he informed suitable people.

As soon as I arrived near the Jobcentre I was stopped by a lovely couple whom I have mentioned in previous blogs. Their run of bad luck never ends and even though they now have somewhere to live they had no money for electric. They had asked elsewhere but no one could help but I did. So they got food and electric which at the moment is all I can do for them.

The food parcels arrived and as soon as they did most of them were taken. Various people took them all with various problems. One lady is working but is struggling to get by. This happens A LOT and it’s by no means unusual. I referred her and everyone else to local organisations where they can receive extra help.

I spoke to a young man and his father. He had been refused his Universal Credit claim because he hadn’t responded to a letter that they had sent. The problem here is an old one, he didn’t receive a letter, nothing arrived. He challenged this and his advisor told him that it wasn’t their fault, it was his fault he should have somehow known that a letter was going to arrive on a certain day. He didn’t so now he’s having to go through the rigmarole of appealing etc.

I spoke to a man who had failed their ESA assessment. To be honest this is very common, hardly anyone passes their assessment these days. It was in the news recently that ATOS ‘Don’t mind” if recording interviews was permitted again, and equipment is easily available to do so. This then leads me to the question ‘Why aren’t you implementing this then?’ They aren’t and I think that they are just playing lip service, thinking that we are fools.

We spoke to several gentlemen who are finding life hard, they can’t cope really but carry on not knowing what for. They come for a chat and its lovely seeing them. Remember a kind word can make all the difference to someone’s life. We should all try to do this more.

We spoke to a man who is struggling with a previous employer. He had been working for a local factory through an agency. Why on earth they can’t just employ people themselves? It’s a ploy to enable them to pay employees less and dodge paying tax.

Anyway, the agency have told the DWP that he has earnt more than he actually has, and they are refusing to provide him with wage slips etc. The DWP will not tolerate anything that he tells them so now he has to appeal this. He’s frustrated, and understandably so. He was signposted everywhere suitable for help etc and I wish him all the luck in the world.

This is another reason what I don’t like agencies. Many exploit people and they often get away with it. Shame on them.

It was cold and busy today outside the Jobcentre.

I was talking to the man who arrived early on his mobility scooter. JC+ staff sent him outside to wait on the pavement in the cold wind as is their practice. He told me that he’d worked all his life and never been interested in politics. He’s changing his mind now I think.

We spoke to lots of people today, helped lots and handed out Survival Guides, food parcels, solidarity, help and advice. Please don’t underestimate the amount of work that we do and we help people when they are feeling at their lowest. Seeing people overcome their problems is the best thing in the world.

Apologies for the short blog, I’m tired, not feeling great and need to get some rest.

Thank you to EVERYONE that came and helped, you are all brilliant. I really do appreciate you all. Roy it was lovely to see you today, and thank you to Stuart andthe gentleman who reads this blog and came along. I really do apologise for forgetting your name, I’m hopeless with names and I really do apologise. Thank you so much.

A massive thank you to everyone who reads, shares, and supports the campaign and this blog. Thank you so, so much. If I could give you all a hug I would do.

Thank you!


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


Sanctioned for making a spelling mistake.

You couldn’t make it up… Well actually it’s become the norm to be sanctioned for making a spelling mistake. A gentleman who spoke to us on our Thursday demo told us that he was put on a three month sanction at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for making a spelling mistake. He wasn’t given a chance to correct it, or a chance to explain it. He was told very bluntly “we are sanctioning you for spelling this word incorrectly on a form. This will prevent you from getting work so therefore is a sanctionable offence”. This man received a three month sanction for this so called offence. No one bothered to ask him if he was dyslexic or had any other issues which may have prevented him from spelling the word correct. Neither is it a crime to spell a word incorrectly. Indeed we are all human and are prone to making mistakes. This is shocking but had become the norm at this Jobcentre and jobcentres up and down the country. It reminded me of why Jobcentres were created in the first place. They were created to help you find work. They also used to help you fill in forms and make telephone calls if this was required. They were very productive places in those days, you stood a chance of finding work and not being sanctioned. I prefer to call Jobcentres sanction centres now as their main aim is to get people off benefits in any way possible. If bullying, sanctioning, coercing claimants to commit suicide and taking away a persons every means of survival is needed to do this then they will do this…. They have targets to reach, and reach them they will by whatever means possible.

Another issue I would like to write about is the ever increasing amount of homeless people sleeping roughon our streets. I’m not talking about people that are homeless and are sofa surfing, that’s another issue that I may cover in the future. I’m well aware that there are hundreds of homeless people sofa surfing or in temporary accommodation in my town.Indeed in my small town I have been give a rough number of those sleeping rough on the streets as totalling towards 20. It’s shocking, but my local authority deny this saying there is no homeless.. Neither is there much if any provision for them. There are a couple of shelters and outreach places where they can go, but many homeless people have complex needs and cannot access these. Many have ptsd which prevents them sharing accommodation which is the only accommodation available to them. Indeed a local homeless man whom I have got to know quite well said that my local council refused him a night shelter when the temperature outside reached below 0 as the law says that they have to provide some kind prof provision. It seems that three met office apps stating the temperature wasn’t good enough. Tameside council have their own app which stated it was above 5 degrees…. Well I’ve never seen frozen grit at 5 degrees before. The council officer stated this then ran into the back and locked the man and his helpers out of the building. As a result he spent a very cold night on the streets. He said to me that it was that cold his fingers froze, he says that he knows it’s below zero when they do that.

Four people came to speak to us about their three month sanctions which were conveniently issued just before Christmas. All for totally illegal reasons. Most are being challenged. But the result was a very cold and miserable christmas for them with no food or heating or indeed light. We put some hats and gloves out on the table at our demo for anyone that needed them. Claimants were going in freezing. One man came up to me and gave me a hug and said thank you very much I can be warmer now. A member of our group put some food on the table and it was very thankfully taken by a man that hadn’t eaten for three days. We hope he felt better after eating.

All of the above is so wrong, and it breaks my heart. We need to stop this and we also need to help each other more if we can. Let’s show this government and to the future government that wants four more years of austerity and will be worse than the Tories, that we can and we will help each other and we will stand together and show this government that this is wrong. Austerity doesn’t work indeed we can see that it doesn’t. Don’t vote for any future government that wants it. Vote for a government that is opposed to it and actually wants to help the poorest in society. We can do it.