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!
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