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.

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Ten minutes early.. go away and come back.. Long Universal Credit waits. Speak poor English.. given a telephone number to phone instead of help. Nothing unusual but this shouldn’t be happening. Today’s demo.

Hi readers, sorry for being late in posting today, we had a mini meeting after the demo and as a result I haven’t had time to write the blog.

Anyway todays demo was a hard one as usual. The weather was awful yet again and we were busy from the offset. Every week its different and I never know what to expect and it would be wrong to expect anything wouldn’t it. Every person is an individual and their problems and worries are different as a result. Also every advisor is different, some are harsher than others, much harsher. Some have got a good reputation so far and yes I know who you are.

 

 

As I arrived I was stopped by a man straight away. He’s in an awful situation, his ESA was stopped and he’s now awaiting his first JSA payment to be made. Because he is appealing the ESA decision he can do this and he is getting help with this also.

He just wanted to chat etc and his girlfriend needed a little help also. He was left waiting for her outside the Jobcentre with us and waited for well over a hour. They really interrogated her today about several back to work courses, which as we know are mostly farcical. I hope she does start a course thats actually going to help her, there is one that does so fingers crossed. I won’t get started on The Workprogramme because it makes me irate and I could write a full blog on that subject. Let me know if you want to hear about that.

 

 

I then had to help a lady who’s second language is English with a telephone call to the DWP. I mean for gods sake she had to come out of the Jobcentre to make the telephone call and was told to do so by her advisor. She couldn’t understand the person on the other end of the telephone line so I helped her. Come on Jobcentre staff! This lady spoke poor English, not her fault and you should know better. It’s almost as if you are setting her up to fail (which you are aren’t you). If I hadn’t had helped her she wouldn’t have got the information that she needed. The information that she needed was the freepost address to send her sicknote to. This should have been given to her at the counter, failing that they should have supported her needs and made the telephone call for her. They really are despicable aren’t they.

 

 

We were then joined by Gerry, Malcom and Jill from Castleton Labour Club Rochdale. Can I say that I have the upmost respect for Castleton Labour Club, they are fab, really supportive of the campaign and myself and seeing them really cheered me up. They also brought some food to go into the food parcels which was amazing. Thank you!

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I then spoke to a man who had been turned away from the Jobcentre on more than one occasion. They kept telling him that he was too early. Ok the first time he was 15 minutes early, so he went for a walk in the cold and rain. He returned and was told that he was now 10 minutes too early so he had to leave again. This is common practice, its all part of the DWPs scheme to remind people who their master is (them) and how they must remember their place. Let’s grind people down until they are completely subservient to the DWPs bullying ways. It’s actions like this that can push someone over the edge and it often does.

 

 

I then had a chat with a man that just likes to come over for a chat. He isn’t having it easy, his living conditions aren’t ideal and he struggles with this at times. We had a good chat and he said that this makes his day a lot easier, that was nice.

 

 

I then spoke to a lady who had been transferred from Stalybridge Jobcentre and as a result she has to walk a few miles to attend her appointments at the Jobcentre. She is finding this hard, really hard and also has children to look after. She had recently had to wait 9 weeks for her first Universal Credit payment to start and as a result she had gone through only what I can describe as hell. She managed though, she didnt say how but she did say it was awful. As a result of having to wait this long she had to take a loan from the DWP to help her out. Upon recieving her first payment they took 40% of her money and will continue to do so until she has paid it back.

We had a chat, and she took a food parcel. I can’t reiterate to you how hard it is to accept a food parcel let alone ask for one. It’s like admitting that you are failing both your children and yourself and its always a very last resort. Today she just wanted to get home but she was given a copy of our survival guide, as was everyone that we spoke to. She also took a food parcel so that they could eat.

 

 

We are the 5th richest country in the world, yet we are treating our most vulnerable like this. It’s obscene but happens all the time. The budget yesterday did little to reassure anyone claiming Universal Credit. They’ll reduce the waiting time by a week. Yep right that won’t make a jot of difference because we can already effectively double the waiting time because I’ve never known a claim for Universal Credit to go through in 6 weeks. It was also announced that they will reduce the repayment amounts but this money should not have to be repaid. It’s money that they are entitled to receive to survive on. It’s disgusting. And yes I already know all of this I’m just reiterating a point, Universal Credit is a monster that I know well and despise.

 

 

We spoke to many people today, all with different needs. We provide help and support when a person is at their lowest and that does make a massive difference. Please don’t underestimate the need for this. It’s hard work, when I talk about some of the experiences that we’ve had, the suicides, the people going hungry, children eating out of tins, people crying, running off and saying that they can’t take any more it upsets me. By the way I always catch up with a person who is in that state. 1 in 5 benefit related deaths are a result of suicides, often after an unfair ESA decision or after being ill treated by a Jobcentre Advisor. This government has blood on its hands and lots of it, and one day they will be made accountable for this and I will be waiting for them.

 

We also handed out 6 food parcels today and I have to respect their request for confidentiality. Their needs come first I’m afraid.

 

We are holding a special day of action against Universal Credit alongside Unite The Union on the 2nd of December. We will be meeting outside the Jobcentre for 10 and walking around with leaflets etc. Please join us it would be fab if there are lots of us doing this.

 

Also our special Christmas Demonstration will be held on the 21st of December, the last Thursday before Christmas outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre  10-12. We will be handing out Mince pies and warm drinks. The theme will be ‘A Universal Credit Christmas’. Please come and join us we might also have some music.

 

A big shoutout to Roy who was feeling out of sorts today and my thoughts are with you.

Also a reminder to join my sister page The Poor Side Of Life on Facebook, and Tameside Against The Cuts on Facebook. Thank you!

 

Please read, share, email, talk about my blog. We need to continue the conversation. let’s not fall into the pattern of thinking that any of this cruelty metered out by the DWP is normal. It isn’t it’s conscious cruelty at its worst.

 

Also please donate if possible. My paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com

My donate button is no longer working because WordPress have changed the settings to only paid WordPress Blogs can have one. I can’t afford to pay so this is the next best thing. I can’t change my platform because people known where to find me etc. Sorry!

Thank you to everyone that has and does support us. Thank you to everyone that reads the blog also. I have still got a long way to go with this campaign and the battle continues. Thank you again!

I have also been extremely busy this week a campaign doesnt just finish on a Thursday afternoon. It continues continuously so if I am delayed responding to anyone this is why. Sorry!

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!

 

 

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!

Sanctioned for applying for more than one job with an agency. Sanctioned because child was ill.

I have just returned from our weekly Thursday demo and to say that it was busy was an understatement. We are helping more people than ever before due to the closure of Stalybridge Jobcentre. I know that I keep mentioning this, but this is the reality of the situation. When a Jobcentre is shut down it puts extreme pressure on the next town that does have a Jobcentre, and of course the Jobcentre itself. It is abhorrent that people are forced to often walk, some everyday to a Jobcentre that is miles away this doesn’t encourage anyone to get a job, it just demoralises them even more and often makes them ill.

This week I have decided to list a few of the situations that the people that are forced to use Ashton Under Lyne Jobcenre are going through. I say a few, because there are too many to write on this blog, and some people were in such a rush that they couldn’t stop to speak to us. Also some people are too scared to do so.

 

The first woman that I spoke to had attended her ESA medical last week. I couldn’t attend with her because I had commitments and she struggles to trust people. But armed with lots of information she went along. Upon seeing her assessor, she was questioned about issues that have nothing to do with her illness. She was set up to fail, but if she does get a letter saying that she has failed then she will be getting lots of support to appeal. This broke my heart, and I wish that I could be everywhere but I can’t.

 

 

I then spoke to a 62 year old woman who has been forced to volunteer for The British Heart Foundation as part of the workfare programme. Shes under no illusion that the system is cruel, and this is not helping her to find work. In her own words she said that no one would employ her at her age, her 29yr old daughter is struggling in a zero hour contract job and finding that job was hard, it would be impossible for her. Her daughter wants to further her education, but is under immense pressure to leave college and to obtain more hours at work even though gaining the qualification that she is working to get would eventually give her a better paid job. It’s a catch 22 situation for many people.

 

 

I then spoke to a  young man who was sanctioned because his child was ill and he had to stay at home with them. He did inform the Jobcentre, but they saw this as not a good enough reason to miss his signing on appointment. He is appealing this decision.

 

 

I spoke to another young man. He told me that his advisor had informed him that he was being sanctioned because he hadn’t attended an appointment. The reason being that he didn’t receive a letter informing him of this appointment. This is not a new phenomenon, far from it we’ve seen this happen for four years now. I don’t believe that these letters are actually sent out in the first place. If you have time, scroll down the blog and refer to the post titled ‘The case of the missing letters’ it makes interesting reading. He is appealing this decision, and help and advice was given to him to do so.

 

 

Upon standing outside the Jobcentre, we noted a very elderly lady leaving the Jobcentre and crossing the road. She didn’t wish to speak to anyone, but I would have to question the very fact as to why she felt that she had to visit the Jobcentre in the first place.

 

 

A bit of good news, I spoke to a lady whom I had previously helped and advised. She told me that she had taken my advice and was now much happier and is in the process of claiming all the money that she is entitled to. This poor lady went through an awful time and I was so pleased to hear this. She gave me a big hug and said thank you. That made my day.

 

 

 

I spoke to a young man who had been sanctioned for applying for more than one job with the same agency. Yes folks, they can also sanction a person for applying for too many jobs. He was devestated because he had done exactly what he was supposed to do which is look for work. We gave him some good advice and he will be appealing this decision. This does prove that you can never do enough to make the DWP system happy, the advisor is supposed to use their discretion, and they obviously did, they chose to sanction him for looking for work.

 

 

I spoke to a lady who had previously failed her ESA medical and didn’t appeal that decision. I hadn’t met her yet and she had fallen for the rethoric that even if you are sick or disabled you have to work. She has been forced to attend the Jobcentre everyday and to achieve this she has to walk a long distance. She complained about feeling tired, and she said that she didn’t feel well. I signposted her to a local organisation that can sit down with her and talk her through the whole complicated process at a speed that suits her. It’s hard to do this whilst stood on the street.

 

 

 

I also spoke to a man who had just been sanctioned for missing an appointment in March. He had already spent his sanction (I may as well use this term, because they are treating innocent people like criminals). This hasn’t stopped the DWP from sanctioning him again for the same reason. He is appealing this decision, because this is very clearly wrong. However this doesn’t help him now does it. We did give him help, advice and signposted him.

 

 

This all happened in the space of two hours folks, can you imagine how many people are leaving the Jobcentre after their appointment In a state of dispair? Many give up, take themselves off the cruel system because the stress is too much for them. Many become ill or take their own life’s. This does happen to people that use this Jobcentre and most likely most Jobcentre’s. It’s a cruel system and is designed to be so.

 

What I can say is that they made no mistakes when designing Universal Credit. Everything has been designed purposely to make the poor suffer.

People cannot just walk into a Jobcentre to get help as Liz Truss stated this week. If you haven’t got an appointment you arent allowed any help, and they certainly won’t make any telephone calls for you even if you have an appointment.

The government has created a system that can never be beaten, no one can win against this system, the design makes it impossible to do so. They want the poor to pay for their own poverty, the very fact that Theresa May this week declined to answer Jeremy Corbyns question about the cost of the 55p per min helpline cost. They have no qulams about making it impossible to get help, advice and compassion.  I’m certain that they think that we live in some kind of utopian dream, where everything that we need is easily available and easy to access. We know that this isnt true though.

 

The battle continues for us though, it’s never ending. I’ve committed four years so far to this campaign, and if I have to commit another for years to it I will do. The poorest of this country are being targeted injustice after injustice, and rather than just putting a sticking plaster over it I feel that it is necessary to challenge the system. After all, plasters fall off and the damage is still there isn’t it.

 

 

Many, many thanks to everyone that came along and supported the demo. You are all my rocks, you keep me going even through times when I am upset and angry at the system. You are all amazing.

 

 

It’s been a very busy week, if you would like to see the links to the various newspaper reports and media appearances then please comment below. I don’t want to bore you if you dont want to see them.

 

We don’t get paid for this, we do it, I do it because people need help and I’m certain that one day we shall overcome this evil regime.

 

Please share my blog, talk about it, lets make this blog reach more people than it does already. We need to keep highlighting the injustices that this government are showering the most vulnerable in society with.

 

Please donate if you can, if you can’t thats more than ok! Thank you to those that have supported the blog already.

My PayPal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com.

I am having problems with the button that I was using, sorry!

 

 

 

 

Sanctioned for not being able to sign on on bank holiday Monday. Tears, frustration and rain.

Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.

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We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy.  But it’s a whole lot harder for them.

I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at  Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also. He mentioned that some of the advisors at Stalybridge could be awful, but Ashton Jobcentre felt positively hostile. I had to agree with him. The frontline staff has a habit of making a person feel like they are guilty of committing some heinous crime, when in fact their only crime and it isn’t a crime is being poor.

You really have to experience this to understand what I’m talking about. I experienced the same treatment when I used to have to sign on there. It was awful, with G4S security guards taking personal details to check appointments. Of course, this is illegal but the DWP and their employees seem to be immune to any type of action being taken against them. One day I’m sure that their time will come.

He also explained to us that he had failed his ESA medical and was in the process of appealing, so until he can prove that he has launched an appeal he has had to submit a claim for JSA. He knows the score and what to do but it doesn’t make it easier does it. So he is now in no man’s land, waiting for everything to be processed and it is a horrible place to be.

Whilst I was standing outside the Jobcentre I spotted a man walk in, who was very obviously disabled and in discomfort. He didn’t want to speak on his way into the Jobcentre but chose to do so on the way out. He has an injury to his knee and it’s in a large knee support, and because he was claiming Universal Credit he was handing sick notes in to cover him for this period of time. I advised him that he could claim ESA if the injury is going to cause a disability that might take some time to recover from and he took that advice on board. The DWP hasn’t made his life easy though and they are continuing to mess him about with his payments. Unfortunately, he didn’t go into great detail but I advised him and gave him a leaflet. I also asked him if he wanted a food parcel. He said no, he would be ok but his father who was stood behind him said: “Yes we do, I’m having to feed you and I have very little money”.  Having been in this situation myself, I gladly gave him a food parcel and at least they will eat better this week.

This is another hidden issue that not a lot of people speak about. I’ve been in this position myself and it’s very hard looking after a relative who has had their lifeline taken off them by the DWP for whatever reason that may be.

I felt a lot of stress and hardship when I had to do this, so this could well be what many people feel like when they are in the same situation. Cooking for one extra person might not seem to be a lot, but it soon mounts up. Also, there are the extra bills that have to be paid such as gas, electric etc. Managing from day to day is very hard indeed and demands on food banks and similar organizations grow as a result.

If a person has no family then it’s a dire situation to be in, so please have sympathy with those forced into this awful situation which wasn’t of their choice.

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I spoke to a man who was rushing down the road to talk to me. He was so upset. His situation has spiraled out of control, and he hadn’t followed up our advice on what to do and where to go. Seeking help is often very hard. It takes courage and swallowing of pride. Asking for and accepting help is very hard indeed.

I told him of a local organization that he can go to straight away to get some immediate help and that he must go now. The nights are getting cold and with his health conditions, I didn’t want him sleeping on the streets. I gave him a food parcel and a colleague (Karl) gave him a lift up to this organization. It was vital that he went, so we made sure that he did. Thanks, Karl.

We then started talking to a lady who had also previously attended Stalybridge Jobcentre. She also informed us of how different Ashton Jobcentre is. She wasn’t happy. She had been diagnosed with Bi Polar years ago but is new to the signing on  process and she was understandably overwhelmed. It was then that she started crying, saying that she is 58 years old and cannot physically look for work eight hours a day. She doesn’t know how to use computers and the system has confused her.

We advised her to make a claim for ESA and advised her of how to do this and where to go to get help to do so. She also said that she had no friends, so I told her that I would be her friend as did other members of the group. The tears disappeared and she felt supported and loved. This is exactly why we are there every week and will continue to be.

I also spoke to a young man who had been given a signing on appointment for the previous bank holiday Monday. Yes folks, bank holiday Monday. Of course, he couldn’t sign on and he informed the Jobcentre of this. The DWP were totally unsympathetic of course and informed him that he was now sanctioned for not attending. You really couldn’t make this up, could you?

It’s not the first time that we have seen this though and it isn’t unusual. He is appealing and he will win and overrule this sanction, but in the meantime, he is without money. We gave him appropriate advice and signposted to all local groups. Let’s hope that he takes this up.

I and a colleague started talking to a man who was a former policeman. He had taken early retirement and was attending the Jobcentre just to keep up his national insurance contributions. He told us of his struggles and that he is really struggling to manage on the pension that he has been given. I advised him to go to the local Citizens Advice centre where they can do a full benefit check for him. He says that he has now been forced back to looking for work, and will hopefully get one within the police force. He didn’t have a nice word to say about the Jobcentre and I don’t blame him.

We started talking to a lovely young woman who had lost her job due to no fault of her own. She had been working at a children’s day nursery and had been exploited, both of the hours and work that she was expected to do, but also because of her good nature. I can’t elaborate more due to the fact that she might be taking further action about this through her union. She might not, but I don’t want to ruin her chances of doing so if she does.

This is another issue that is growing sadly. The exploitation of staff by management at some private day nurseries. They usually employ young staff members and overwork them. of course, some don’t, and kudos to those that don’t. But for a long time now I have been hearing these stories. The apprentice scheme at these day nurseries can also exploit them, I’ve heard some awful stories about this also. It’s about time that all apprenticeships are properly regulated because young people should not be exploited. Young people should be respected because they are, after all our future.

We also had a few people in cars shout over to us saying the old ‘Get a job’ as if they were the first people to say it. It’s not clever nor is it smart. And to drive away as fast as they can makes them cowards in my eyes.

If they actually stopped and spoke to us they would realize that most of us are working, but on very limited incomes or retired. Sadly I’m used to it now.

Today we handed seven food parcels out, many thanks to Pat and the gang at Glossop for that. Many thanks also to Tom for the sandwiches that he donated they made a big difference.  We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

It honestly never ends. The suffering never ends and it is getting much worse than it ever has been. Even if we by some miracle could change governments tomorrow it will take years and I mean years to rectify the damage caused by this awful government. I really don’t have a clue how people will survive.

Next week is our four-year anniversary demo and the theme for this one is ‘Prisoners of the state.’ Please come and join us 10-12 Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old Street Ashton Under Lyne.  We also will hopefully have some special guests coming along. Tea and coffee will be available for all.

Please share my blog, talk about it, and there is a donate button below if anyone would like to donate.

Thank you.

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