Tag: Discrimination… Cruelty

Discrimination,cruelty, sanctions, government, tameside council, Jobcentre, poverty, disabled, starvation

Homelessness, PIP assessment failures, terrible landlords and questionable work agencies. Another week outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Dear readers, I can’t believe that it’s Thursday again. Time goes so quickly these days.

This weeks demo was very productive and we helped lots of people but we really do need more helpers. If you’re ever in the area please come and say hello.

It rained as usual today but only for the first hour of the demo. I was actually shocked to see the sun peeping out from behind a cloud.

My apologies if I’ve been quiet this week, I wasn’t feeling 100% but I think that now we might be seeing the end of the rain for a couple of days I should be ok.

Today’s demo went really quickly and we helped so many people with differing issues ranging from giving food parcels to someone who was in need of one to giving directions. It’s going to take people a long time to get used to the new Tameside One building.

I can’t thank Gordon enough for supporting me today, his help is invaluable and is really appreciated.

I shall list my conversations as usual. I won’t divulge a persons identity either so they don’t run the risk of being targeted by the DWP. I’ve seen this happen and the fear of this happening is very real.

I had requests for food parcels before the demo started from people who were in desperate need for food and a conversation. It’s heartbreaking to see peoples life’s spin totally out of their control, and not by their own doing.

I spoke to a young woman today whom I’ve had conversations with in the past on many occasions. My heart goes out to her it really does.

When they say that bad luck comes in three’s she’s had triple this amount and more, it isn’t her oen doing either.

Various events in her life have resulted in her needing more help than can be offered locally thanks to government cuts.

I handed her a food parcel and had a long conversation with her. I really wish that I had a magic wand to help her. She’s such a lovely woman and I hate seeing her like this.

It was then that I had a conversation with a man whom I shall call Bill.

Bill has been working for a job agency grabbing working whenever her can. However the agency that he’s working for is refusing to give him a job reference for another job that he’s looking for nor have they been paying him his full wage. The agency is also refusing to give him wage slips.

Call me cynical but I can smell a rat when I hear stories like this. This job agency are exploiting Bill, making him work long hours for little or no pay and refuse to give him a wage slip because they’re most likely committing fraud in some way.

Bill is also trapped into working for them because he can’t get another job without a reference from this employer.

Stories like this make me furious and I signposted him to Greater Manchester Law Centre for help.

Being trapped on universal credit is bad enough but combine this with an agency that are refusing to give him wage slips and his full wage is really making his life hell.

More needs to be done to outlaw these awful job agencies and to abolish zero hour contracts. People are really suffering as a result of them, and he wasn’t the first person that I spoke to today that found themselves in the same position.

I hope Bill is ok, he was a lovely chap that really deserves much more than to be treated like this.

I had a quick conversation with a woman who is in the process off appealing a PIP decision. She’s doing everything that she can to appeal this decision.

I had a conversation with a young man who had recently lost his temporary accommodation so he’s now moving between various night shelters. Call me old fashioned but I believe that everyone deserves a place to call home. Criminalising homeless people just makes things much worse. The government should be on trial for treating people like this, for taking funding away from necessary services.

Meanwhile it looks like Boris Johnson is going to become our next prime minister. God help us.

I had a conversation with a young man that is newly homeless and has found a job. His problem is that he needed some bus fare to get to his new job, of course the DWP refused to help him even though he claims universal credit and the DWP are claiming that universal credit helps people into work.

What a load of rubbish, if they actually did want this they’d give this man his bus fare and ensure that every single person upon finding work is given a fully contracted job not an unstable zero hour contract job with a dodgy agency that refuses to pay them.

Who cares though? We do, my readers do but the government don’t give a toss.

It was then that I spoke to a lovely young woman. Her story was very similar to Bills.

She’s working for a job agency getting work whenever she can and she’s also looking for a secure job. She has children to care for.

She asked her agency if she could have a reference to send to a future employer. They point blank refused saying that they didn’t have to. Her wages have also been sparodic. Not ideal when shes got children to look after.

Thinking that the DWP would help her she asked them for help but was refused so I signposted her to Greater Manchester Law Centre where they can hopefully help her.

This highlighted how bad many of these agencies are. At the moment they’re running roughshod over very vulnerable people with absolutely no governmental opposition from the Tory Party. Like John Mcdonall and Jeremy Corbyn say, these agencies and zero hour contracts need to be abolished.

I then had a conversation with a woman who has been battling a dodgy landlord for years. She told me about her substandard accommodation, leaking roofs, damp riddled walls etc.

It’s awful that she’s having to go through this. It’s had a detrimental effect on both her physical and mental health.

It’s much like the days of old from before Ken Loach made Cathy Come Home and Shirley Baker took a set of photographs that spurred the organisation Shelter to be formed.

It’s like stepping back in time, in my eyes right back to the mid 19th century onwards.

Whilst there’s a Tory government there’s suffering, the two go hand in hand and now we’ve most likely got Boris as our future prime minister.

Things aren’t going to get better until we vote them out and I can’t wait for that day.

A special mention goes out to members of DPAC that have collected thousands of copies of the Metro newspaper and gave them back to the Metro and the DWP.

The governments propaganda campaign has failed miserably through this campaign

Also the thousands upon thousands of people that have been forced onto universal credit that know the reality of this awful system.

Making work pay, don’t make me laugh. It’s the opposite and they know it.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. It’s really important that we get information like this out there for the world to see.

We will be back next week to help people.

There’s also a donate button at the top and side of this blog for anyone interested in donating. I’m a skint single parent struggling like everyone else is. Every penny does help.

A massive thanks to everyone that does already support my blog. Thank you ❤️.

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Universal Credit guarantees poverty, hunger, debt, homelessness and despair.

Dear readers, its Thursday again and for a change it’s a lovely warm and sunny day. This gives many of us a huge sense of relief because we won’t have to put any heating on.

Today was a busy but quiet day. I know that this doesn’t make any sense to you, but its a bit difficult to explain.

When I arrived at the Jobcentre there was already a queue for the food parcels, amd Gordon had already arrived and was unloading the car.

Everyone that I spoke to today was hungry, fed up and wanted things to change. No one wants to live like this. It’s exiating not living, and it’s cruel and demanding. I wish that I had a magic wand to change this system and devise a replacement that’s fair for everyone.

I’ll list the conversations that I had this morning. Real names etc won’t be divulged either.

I spotted Chris as he was walking away from the Jobcentre, clutching a piece of paper in his hands. The same piece of paper that’s handed out to everyone that makes an enquiry.

Chris is a young man, very thin and pale. He was wearing thin clothing and looked downtrodden. I asked Chris if I could help him.

To break the Ice I handed him one of our leaflets, he looked at me and said ‘It’s not f#####g fair you know.’ I asked him what had happened. Chris told me that had an appointment early this morning but he was unwell and couldn’t leave his home until he felt better.

Chris had no money except the money that I gave him to buy a bit of food and a brew. He didn’t have any phone credit so he had walked to the Jobcentre to speak to someone.

Chris was told that he couldn’t have another appointment and that he had to wait for two weeks for his next Jobcentre appointment.

Chris was visibly upset, he knows that the reality of him being sanctioned are high and he didn’t know what to do.

I gave him some advice and told him that I’m there for him if he needs any help at all and he left a little happier than he was earlier.

I don’t need to tell you that even the threat of being sanctioned is enough to push people into a downward spiral of depression and panic. Many give up altogether, many never get over it. Sanctions traumatise people beyond belief

Sanctions need to be abolished because they do kill people.

I spoke to a young woman who was making her first claim. We advised her, gave her copies of our survival guide and leaflet. She appeared to be more confident when she walked away.

It was then that we were heckled at from a car that was passing by. Not one of us could decipher what they said, but they drove off feeling rather happy with themselves.

I then spoke to a young man how’s being made redundant after working at the same company for seven years. He’s never claimed any type of benefit before so I advised him, handed him our leaflets and had a nice chat with him.

June is an older lady trying her best to navigate the awful universal credit system.

June doesn’t know how to use a computer. Her son tries his best to help her fill in her job searches etc every week..

To make things worse June also has another problem with the universal credit system. Every month since she started to claim. Universal credit the computer system blocks her payment. Every month June has to telephone the DWP waiting over a hour and a half to speak to the right person.

The reason for this is that the system says that June had previously claimed incapacity benefit. June doesn’t even know what that is nevermind claimed it. So every month she has to fight to get her rightful payments.

No one should have to go through this. June suffers from various ailments and helps to look after her disabled daughter.

June feels like totally giving up. Luckily we were there to provide some support and advice.

I hate universal credit.

Meet John. John has had his wallet stolen. John is also very thin, looks unwell and was wearing unsuitable clothes. John has no money.

Thinking that the DWP would show some comlassion for his situation, he went to the Jobcentre for some advice. He was told that they wouldn’t help him, basically they didn’t care.

My heart went out to him. In the good old days people in his situation were able to get a crisis loan to see them through to their next payment day. This used to work well, and I’ve had a few crisis loans in the past.

We helped and advised John, I wish that we could do more but we can’t.

I spoke to another man who has also been made redundant. We advised him about what to do etc.

Meet Jenny, a young woman who works as a teaching assistant.. Jenny has children but has been forced to claim universal credit due to a relationship breakdown.

Needless to say, Jenny is struggling. She’s got a mortgage to pay, children to feed and to say that she’s unhappy with the system is an understatement.

Basically Jenny is being punished by the cruel universal credit system even though she’s working. Only a cruel Tory could devise such a cruel and heartless system.

I spoke to another woman thats struggling with the universal credit system. Please remember that not everyone can use a computer. Many find it hard.

I advised a woman who’s caring for her disabled daughter.

I spoke to another woman struggling on universal credit even though she works. She’s also finding it hard to pay her mortgage payments.

I spoke to a young man who’s making his first application for universal credit.

I spoke to another man who’d just been made redundant.

We also spoke to a couple who are experienced in fighting the system. They’ve self taught themselves and know their stuff. Well done to them. Having confidence or the appearance of confidence really does help. Advisors don’t see them as easy targets and are less likely to target them.

Yet again we helped lots of people, provided food, advice and comparison to people. We’ll be returning next week to do the same.

Many thanks to everyone that came to the demo today.

Massive thanks to everyone that reads and shares my blog. Also massive thanks to everyone who supports my blog.

£213 a month to live on, and also have to top up rent payments with that. People are struggling to survive on universal credit.

Dear readers, today was grim and the weather didn’t help anyone, let alone the people forced to use the Jobcentre. Yet again we encountered numerous people with all sorts of problems ranging from universal credit, ESA and PIP, housing problems etc.

We handed out all of our food parcels, most were taken by single parents with children and working families. They rely on foodbanks to survive, it really shouldn’t be like this.

Thanks to Gordon for joining me and also Jack. Your help is invaluable and it’s appreciated by everyone.

As usual I won’t divulge the names of anyone that I spoke to this morning. The DWP snoop everywhere and I don’t want anyone that I spoke to being targeted by the DWP. This does happen, but not on my blog. I value everyone that I speak to unlike the DWP.

 

John walked out of the Jobcentre clutching the usual list of phone numbers that they hand out to everyone. I handed him a leaflet and asked him if he needed any help. John told me that he was ok, but thats only because he’s living with a relative that can feed and look after him whilst he’s waiting for his universal credit claim to be processed, saying that the alternative is to horrible to think about.

 

I then spoke to Gemma. Gemma has struggled almost all of her life, she’s 19 years old and to be honest isn’t enjoying anything about her life at the moment. In her short lifetime she’s been homeless twice and has been rehoused not long ago.

Gemma is claiming universal credit and is finding it almost impossible to manage. She receives in total £513 a month total to live on after paying her rent payment. Out of this she has to pay back her rent arrears that she keeps accruing because she’s finding it hard to pay her full rent. She also got into rent arrears whilst she was waiting for her universal credit claim to be processed, “What are you supposed to do, just pay your rent with the loan that they give you? It was impossible for me to pay my full rent because I needed food to eat, and gas and electric to buy. I’ve got no one to borrow money from, and that’d have to be paid back as well.

To make the situation worse Gemma also has to repay her universal credit loan back at £100 a month. There’s absolutely no regulation concerning the repayment of loan debts. No set amounts that people have to pay back, sometimes I think that they pick a number out of thin air and decide thats how much they should pay back. It’s ludicrous

Basically after all of her above debts are paid back Gemmas left with £213 a month to survive on. She’s got to buy gas, electric, food and transport costs. She’s a broken woman at 19 years old. Huddled up in the cold, Gemma muttered “It’s almost as if they’re trying to destroy me. I’m 19 years old and I’m worn out because of the stress and worry. There’s a good chance that I’ll become homeless again, and I’m doing my best. Universal credit is destroying me. They look at me (DWP staff) as if I’m stupid, like I’m something on the bottom of their shoe. They don’t want to help me”

Gemmas 19 years old, at the start of her life and should be enjoying life. Instead she’s worn out, depressed and feels like giving up. This, my friends is what universal credit does to people. It eats you up, totally consumes you until eventually you give up. That’s exactly what its designed to do.

 

Sarah is a single parent and is also having a difficult time. She’s claiming universal credit and to say she’s struggling is an understatement. Here’s her story.

Sarah was instructed to attend an appointment, which she was ready to do but unfortunately one of her parents suddenly fell ill and was rushed into hospital by ambulance. Sarah was with her relative when this happened and from the ambulance she telephoned the DWP to try and rearrange her appointment. The person that she spoke to said that this wouldn’t be a problem, and they’d phone her later with another appointment.

Only the DWP phoned the wrong number. Not the one that’s registered online, an old number that isn’t used anymore, and Sarah had already informed them about this.

Sarah also couldn’t remember her 16 pin log in details. How on earth is anyone supposed to remember this, its impossible. Even if people write it down its easy for it to get lost. If they put it in their mobile phone (if they have one) and the phone breaks, then the numbers missing.

Sarah phoned the DWP to tell them that she’d forgotten her PIN number. The DWP then told her that she had to go online to get the number. Sarah couldn’t access her online account because she didn’t have her pin. Basically they gave her an impossible task to complete.

Upon attending her next DWP appointment she was told that the DWP were deducting her universal credit payment by £200 but don’t worry, we’ll give you a LOAN for £150 that you have to pay back. Are the DWP getting their ideas from illegal money lenders or something? This is atrocious.

Basically Sarah was fined £200 for missing a phone call that she never received because they phoned the wrong number, and for loosing her PIN number. You really couldn’t make this shit up could you.

Sarah is also in rent arrears now because she was unable to pay her full rent because she was sanctioned. She now has to top up her rent payments and repay two DWP loans back.

Don’t forget Sarah is a single parent with a very young child, she didn’t have any food in her cupboards and didn’t know what to do. Luckily I gave her a food parcel and advised her on what to do. Hopefully she will access local services and she will appeal her sanction.

It’s despicable that people are treated in this manner, not only are the parents suffering but their children are too. The DWP just don’t care. It’s no coincidence that more and more children are being put into the care system is it. Many parents can no longer provide food, heating, clothing etc for their children and it’s not their fault. The blame lies purely at the governments feet.

 

I asked an older man how was he coping with universal credit. He looked at me and said ‘Just about. Now I’ve got to pay my council tax”

 

I spoke to a young woman working a zero hour contract at a local cake factory. When she started her job she was told that if she worked hard she might get a contracted job. She worked hard but never got the contract. Now she has no job security at all.

 

Gordon spoke to an older woman aged 62 who’s claiming universal credit, she’s struggling but then again nearly everyone claiming universal credit are aren’t they.

 

We then had a conversation Brian with an older man, he claims ESA and was told to phone an 0845 number recently. He wasn’t very clear about why he was told to phone this number up. He’s confused because the system is extremely confusing.

Brian has a contract phone and his phone bill per monthly is £15 a month. Brian tried phoning this number numerous times, each time he was placed on hold for great lengths of time. When he received his bill it was £54.

Of course he was angry, he shouldn’t have cost him  this much, all calls to the DWP should be free, but many still aren’t.

Brian was angry, frustrated and echoed concerns for those without a mobile phone contract saying ‘How the hell are they going to pay that? They’ll never get any help if they don’t have a phone will they’ He realises the systems rotten, and wondered why the government are allowed to do this ‘It’s criminal’ he said, and he’s not wrong.

 

Jack, a local councillor  represented a claimant whilst they had an appointment, this helps a great deal and I can’t recommend this enough. More should do this if they’re able to.

 

We left todays demo cold and a bit downhearted, but knowing that we’ve helped people makes everything worthwhile.

 

Please read, share and tweet my blog, also subscribe to it, it’ll save you from having to look for it every week.

There’s also a donate button at the top of this blog and at the side. I’m a skint single parent just trying my best to help people, through my blog I’ve managed to reach thousands upon thousands of people. As a result of this and other campaigns, more and more people are aware of the cruelty of universal credit and the heartless state of our government.

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No wonder people commit suicide.

Sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it, speaking from years of experience of helping people tackle the inhumane DWP system I have to agree.

Today was a day fraught with frustrations, helping upset, angry people barely surviving, seeking food from foodbanks that’s if they can find one or if they can find one that’s open. This morning highlighted just how fragile we all are when placed in this situation.

When you make a claim for universal credit you still have to wait at least five weeks. Yes you can get a loan, but from speaking to people many of them use this to pay some of their rent arrears off and to buy gas and electric. Food is lower down on the list because they’re scared. Scared of loosing their home, scared of what’s round the corner

I don’t want any medals for what I do, but I do wish that others would replicate what we do because its important to get out there, to help and to also protest against the very need for our being there. Saturday demos whilst good for raising awareness just don’t cut it when it comes to helping people.

Sorry for the rant, and I do appreciate everything that everyone does online, online activism is essential but for those that are able to join us or start a new group then please do.

 

Today was extremely hectic for lots of different reasons. The food parcels went straight away, we could have given more out. It’s cold and people are trying to stay warm so there’s less money to spend on food, that is if they have any money in the first place.

 

After handing out the food parcels I had a chat with a man who’s heavily in debt with Brighthouse. Companies like these are the scourge of our society, praying on the poorest because they don’t have the money to pay for a fridge etc brand new or second hand.

After having dealings with Brighthouse myself I can attest that their so called bailiffs (they aren’t bailiffs but they act as if they are) can be a tad scary and intimidating. We need to put more regulations on these companies and make it impossible to exploit the poor.

Because he had paid his Brighthouse bill he didn’t have enough money for food. I advised him of what he should do etc. At least he’ll eat now.

 

Today was also blighted by people having problems with their sixteen digit Universal credit log on details. Everyone is expected to remember this, many people either forget it or loose the piece of paper that they’ve wrote it on.

If they don’t log on they’ll get sanctioned. Combine this with many of these people being new claims for universal credit and they don’t know their way around the system let alone remember this. Basically if they don’t have a sympathetic advisor then they’ll get sanctioned. A decent advisor will tell them what their code is, many don’t though.

 

I spoke to Jane, she’s just made a claim for universal credit and is in the process of waiting for her first payment. She’s got at least four weeks to wait. Jane has a baby and has got a job but she needs to pay her childcare fees upfront,

Jane doesn’t have any money, if she doesn’t go to work she’ll be sanctioned so she’s at the mercy of her childcare provider and hoping that they can be sympathetic.

When she does receive her first payment then she’ll also struggle to receive her childcare payments. Not one person that Ive spoken to regarding this has ever received their childcare payments on time if at all. It takes constant phone calls and visits to the Jobcentre to rectify this. Then they have to repeat this a few weeks later.

To say that universal credit helps people is obscene. it drives people like Jane into even more poverty.

 

I was stopped by a man that appeared to be very agitated and upset, I’ll call him John.

John hates the Jobcentre, he doesn’t understand how the system works and he’s struggling.

John has been told that he has to attend the work programme twice a week, and because hes having to pay the debt for the loan that he had to take put whilst waiting for his universal credit payment to go through, hes skint.

John told myself and others of the struggle that he has walking to his work programme appointments. He’s frustrated because they don’t help him there. John needs proper support and understanding. Not someone that’s only supposedly helping him because there’s a financial incentive to do so.

Johns worn out both physically and mentally. He shouted that its no wonder that people commit suicide because THAT place drives them to it, and he knows because hes been close to it himself.

According to John the Jobcentre is a “f*****G joke. They don’t want to help you, no one does. They just leave you to cope and I wish that they’d leave me alone, its given me high blood pressure and I’ve never had that before”.

We all spent a lot of our time talking to him, giving him hope and showing support. We also signposted him to local organisations that can provide him with some support. I really hope that John is ok because I’m worried about him.

 

I handed a leaflet to a man, and as I did he said “ I don’t know how they expect me to live on this money. I don’t have enough to survive, are they trying to kill us?”

They aren’t officially but we know that the governments pernicious policies do indeed kill people.

 

A woman walked past muttering racist comments. She honestly thought that so called immigrants receive vast amounts of money whilst she lives on a pittance. I corrected her, but I’ve  noted that the amount of racist comments have increased of late. a sad indictment of the British press, media and of course the Tory government.

 

 

I then spoke to Val. Val is a carer for her son aged sixteen who has epilepsy. Val is ill herself and had to end her employment because of her ill health.

Val now clams universal credit and she’s distraught by her situation. After she’s paid her universal credit loan, her rent top up, her gas and electricity she’s got no money left for food. She’s tried reducing the loan repayments but she was refused.

Remember Val is ill and her son is disabled.

Val spends her days visiting foodbanks and trying to survive, she told me of her humiliation of having to ask for food, for being in this situation, for being in debt. She’s always worked and never thought that she would be in this situation.

Like Ive said before, this can happen to anyone, and I mean anyone. I helped and advised her, I became a friend to her and I hope that it made a difference.

 

I spoke to an older woman and I informed her of the WASPI campaign and told her that she’s not alone. She wasn’t aware of it so I like to let women know about the campaign.

 

We spoke to a man, he’s just been discharged from his mental health team after having a terrible time. Now he’s left to claim universal credit because he had to finish work due to his ill health.

We had a lovely chat with him and told him that we are there every week to help people. I also signposted him to a local organisation that will be able to help him.

 

This all happened in less than two hours. The food parcels went straight away, we helped everyone that we spoke to, we signposted those that required signposting and we gave people hope when they had none. It’s what we do.

 

Many thanks to everyone that joined us today you’re all amazing and I do appreciate it.

Thanks to all my blog readers for keeping me going, for supporting me and each other via the comments section. Also a huge thanks to everyone that has supported the blog and has shared my blog. Despite what others might like to say we do make a difference,

 

Please read share and rt my blog. There’s also a donate button for anyone wanting to donate. I do this on a small income and every penny helps. Thank you!

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British Gas have taken my last £5 from me, I don’t know what to do. Universal credit, eating and keeping a home warm is an impossible task at times.

Today’s weather is bitterly cold, we are in the  -0s here, yet we have more and more people unable to heat or eat or do either. This isn’t going to get better anytime soon either. Summer comes as a blessed relief, and disappears far too quickly.

We were very short on numbers today, and the cold didn’t help. Regardless we plodded on. It’s not about us, its about everyone suffering under this cruel regime.

Today was quiet again, even so the food parcels were taken almost straight away. They always are and the need for them is increasing daily.

Whilst I wish all my readers a happy new year and hope that all of your life’s will be much better this coming year, I didn’t celebrate it much. I’ve got no reason to really. This year will see at least another 3 million people transferred over to universal credit. Many of these people will be disabled and self employed, all to be punished by a system that hates them. So excuse me for not celebrating, I’m preparing for battle instead.

 

Like Ive already said, it was quiet today, people were cold and there was a lot of rushing in and out of the Jobcentre, people desperately trying to keep their master (the DWP) happy, afterall the DWP more or less controls everything that we do and they aren’t shy about this fact either. It’s awful, and it’s been allowed to happen.

 

I spoke to a fella who has just been re housed into a place of his own. He’s happy about this, after all he can in theory start to rebuild his life now. This is in theory though, because he’s had problems with the smart meter that was already installed in his flat, an old tenants debt on the metre, and British Gas’s reluctance to help a chap who really hasn’t got anything.

He is in the process of sorting this out, and they are issuing him with a new smart metre, however this doesn’t help him now does it. Today he put his last £5 on the smart metre that he has and it ate it up in a very short time.

I did mention that it’s cold didn’t I. It’s freezing.

So now he’s having to find money to heat his flat, he cant afford food as well. So we gave him a food parcel to tide him over. I wanted a magic wand to make it all better for him, but I don’t have one.

Think about this though folks. Being cold isn’t just relegated to street homeless people. Thousands of people are just as cold whilst living in homes. As a result their homes become damp, and they become ill as a result of being poor.

Just because someone’s got a home doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering, they are. They are suffering in so many different ways like shown in the film I, Daniel Blake which is incidentally being shown on BBC2 on Saturday the 5th of January. It isn’t a feel good film, and I hope that it spurs more into campaigning against universal credit like I do, or it encourages people who are able to help others more.

 

I spoke to a young family with a newborn baby and another young child. They didn’t realise that her maternity allowance is classed as an income when you’re claiming universal credit. No one told them of this before she had the baby, so they took her maternity allowance off her final universal credit payment.

This has understandably forced them into a very bad position financially, but they told me that they’re just coping. To make it worse because the local registry office is so busy, they cant register their baby’s birth until the end of this month, therefore aren’t able to claim any monies for the baby.

This system is rancid, it eats away at everything that a person has. It often takes away a persons sanity and their ability to feed themselves. And yet there’s been little opposition politically from this being extended to a further 3 million people this year.

There has however been lots of opposition from campaigners like myself, we know what’s coming, we know its going to be terrible but it feels at times like we’re banging our heads against a brick wall.

 

Highlight of the morning, a man that we help on a regular basis won £6 on a scratch card. Good on him.

Dislike of the morning, an older woman saying that the countries in this mess because of ‘foreigners’. We know that this isn’t true, and it sickens me to know that far too many people believe this.

 

Dislike number two, seeing an older woman crying because the DWP have accused her of claiming money fraudulently when she most definitely hasn’t been. The DWP now want her to repay this money, the money that she claimed legally. I do hope that she pursues this, we have encouraged her to.

Seeing  a person cry like this is heartbreaking and it never, ever gets easier.

This morning before I set off for the demo, I saw this posted on Facebook by my friend I’majsaclaimant. This is what can happen when you feel that your world is collapsing around you, when you believe that life isn’t worth living anymore.

This is what sanctioning people does to people, and the DWP won’t  give a toss, nor will the government. My thoughts and prayers go to this woman’s family and to everyone else that have been affected like this.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE.

Due to a “computer glitch” some people who were due to be paid their ESA next week have received half of it this week.
This has led to a lot of upset and confusion as people have been thinking their payments have been stopped and that was a final payment.
It’s not. They’ll receive the other half on their normal day next week.
They’ve now put an announcement on the ESA phone line before all the options you have to press.
So if anyone is worried, there’s no reason to be.

 

 

 

Please read, share, tweet, email my blog thank you!

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog and the campaign it means the world.

I’ll  be back again next week, whatever the weather.

There’s a donation button at the top of the page and to the side if anyone would like to donate. Thank you!

I used to donate to foodbanks now I rely on them. Had to finish work because of childcare costs. Universal credit at it’s worst.

Dear readers I’m back! Thankfully I was able to attend this weeks demo. Last week was extremely busy but very productive. Before I start writing this weeks blog, please can I send get well wishes to Roy and extremely valuable member of the team. Get well soon!!

If I said that today was busy that would be an understatement. From the minute that I arrived it was unbelievably busy, hampered slightly the weather but we’re used to it. If you can guarantee anything about Manchester and the surrounding areas it would be a given that it’ll rain sooner rather than later. Anyway enough about that.

As I arrived a man was waiting for me. I call him a regular because he likes to stop and chat and keep me updated on his situation. He’s recently been rehoused and hopefully hes managing his tenancy ok. He’s a lovely chap but he finds life difficult. There just isnt the amount of support that he needs out there although local organisations do their best. The government have systematically starved outreach organisations of any funding and many of them have closed. Those that remain open do so by sheer determination and the goodwill of others.

Not long after, I asked a young woman if she was ok and I handed her a leaflet. She told me that she regarded universal credit as being crap and after paying her rent and loans that she had taken out whilst she was waiting for her Universal Credit to be processed she’s not left with enough money for food.

She’s now reliant upon food banks and the goodwill of friends. Her life won’t be getting better anytime soon. How can anyone productively look for work when they are hungry? They can’t. Hunger takes over everything, all of your senses and instincts are taken over by the need for food. Anyone that says otherwise obviously hasn’t been hungry like this.

It was then when we ran out of food parcels. We handed six out, but a woman desperately needed food. Her situation is complicated and without food she could well find herself falling into a deep, dark spiral that’s hard to climb out of, so I took her to the shop next door to the Jobcentre and bought her some food.

I asked another woman how she was coping on universal credit. She told me that she’s ok for one week of the month, but after paying her rent, universal credit loans and debts she can’t afford food. Shes disabled but has been placed in the work related group.

The DWP have been very consistent with their hate for disabled people, and every week I find myself helping people with disabilities the most. The DWP cares not about disabilities only the potential amount of money that they can make out of a person.

A young man then stopped me, took a leaflet and asked me what we were doing outside the Jobcentre. I explained that we were there to help people, to advise and signpost people if possible. He then opened up and told me his story.

He had been claiming universal credit for a long while now, and was receiving the work related disability element. He had been asked to attend an appointment to transfer him over onto the new computer system. Unfortunately he became ill and was admitted to hospital. Because he was ill he had forgotten about the appointment, and anyway he was too sick to phone up.

Of course the DWP showed their distinct lack of understanding about this, they stopped his claim and ignored his reason for non attendance. He even showed them details of his hospital admission.

So he now he had to make a new claim, was now without an income, and the DWP didn’t  give a stuff.

As he was leaving an awful G4S security guard bellowed at him to go back inside the Jobcentre. Upon leaving the Jobcentre he was told that it’s now being sorted out. That’s brilliant however he’s had to go without money for a long while.

It was then that I asked a young woman if she would like one of our leaflets. She told me straight away that universal credit is awful. Previously she had worked but because she has twins and two other children she was paying more money out in childcare than she was receiving so she had to end her job.

Now she’s totally dependent upon universal credit and is paying back her universal Credit loan, buying gas and electric to keep her children warm and paying a top up on her rent.

To say she’s struggling is a massive understatement. She’s dreading Christmas, hasn’t got a clue how she’ll manage, but she does know that her children won’t be having much of a Christmas this year. Reliant upon foodbanks to survive its a complete nightmare.

I signposted her etc, and had a long chat with her. She told me that she used to always donate to food banks but now she’s reliant upon them. It’s a terrible indictment of how the government regards women and children.

I then spoke to a young couple with a young child. Whom I shall name Bill and Mary. Here’s their situation.

Both are on universal credit. Neither of them has a computer or the internet at home. Bill has Aspergers.

They live separately after living together and have told the DWP that they no longer live together. The DWP are ignoring this. Mary’s letters from the DWP are constantly being sent to Bills house, and they are constantly being accused of co habiting, and have even been told that they should make a joint claim.

Despite being a ridiculous thing to suggest, the reality is that they don’t live together therefore can’t make a joint claim. There’s two lots of rent to pay and a young child to look after, but the DWP reckon that its a good suggestion.

They’ve also been complaining about the letters being sent to the wrong address for a long time now but nothing ever gets done about it. Why? Because the system is crap, not one department communicates with another. They just don’t.

Can you imagine the implications of this if, say Mary’s partner was violent? Luckily he isn’t. If he was he would have details about her appointments, her finances etc etc. A woman’s safety is never a priority for the DWP, but this could result in something very serious happening to a woman.

So it looks like because not one DWP department adequately communicates with another there’s little regard for data protection laws let alone potentially a woman’s safety.

I then chatted to another woman with a young child. She told me that she’s having a nightmare with the DWP and universal credit at the moment.

She works part time and relays upon childcare to go to work. Every month the DWP expect her to upload her bank statement etc so that they can pay her childcare. Every month the system won’t allow her to upload this information, so every month she has to go into the Jobcentre to try and sort it out.

You’d think that a task like this should be easy to complete wouldn’t you, afterall they’re always banging on about how brilliant universal credit is, how it supposedly ‘lifts’ you out of poverty (it doesn’t) and how easy the computer system is to navigate (it isn’t either}.

It’s one big nightmare for her and she has to rely upon friends to survive, although shes worried that they’ll no longer be able to help her in the future.

It’s disgusting, degrading and humiliating. Anyone that believes that universal credit is a good thing and can be fixed needs a reality check. It’s got more holes than a fishing net and could they fix all the holes in one? It’s beyond repair and they need to wise up.

I spoke to the elderly father of a young man. He’s been supporting his son for around twelve months now. His story is a bit complicated, and from what I could make out he hasn’t received any payments for twelve months but they wern’t sure why.

I signposted them as a matter of urgency. They are struggling so much themselves and can’t afford to keep their son as well, but they also can’t leave him without. What a horrible situation to be in, it’s beyond cruel.

A young man then stopped me and old me immediately that Universal Credit is crap. I asked why and he told me that after claiming universal credit for a long while he now has to provide the DWP with all of his ID again. He wondered why he has to do this, they already have copies of everything and if they look they would easily find it. But no, that would be too easy wouldn’t it. So now, like many others he’s forced to start again and all because the DWP have created a system that fails to talk to the old one.

Wonderful and they wonder why suicide rates are rocketing.

In my living memory, the poor and disabled have never been persecuted as much as they have now, and this will get much worse next year.

The system won’t be able to cope, but the DWP and government will blame the claimant not themselves and they don’t give a stuff either.

A massive thanks to everyone that came along today, get well soon Roy and thank you to Pat for making us a new banner.

Please read, share, email and tweet my blog. Many thanks to my readers that already do.

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog, thank you so much.

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Left without a penny thanks to Universal Credit and unhelpful DWP staff.

First may I apologise for the lateness of the blog. I had to attend an important meeting in London where I was representing the victims of universal credit, and the damage and pain that universal credit causes.

As you are already aware, universal credit creeps up upon people like a thief in the night, destroying every element of life as you knew it. Instead your future is often reliant on the network of foodbanks and the kindness of friends and family, thats if you have any of course.

It’s impossible to fix and has more holes than a fishing net.

As I know from experience poverty is very isolating and surviving becomes a priority, everything else seems to pale in comparison. Each and every person that myself and the team speak to are isolated in some way, and their struggles overtake their lifes.

 

 

Before I write the account of yesterdays events, please may I stress that everyone received help, advice, a copy of our survival guide and a food parcel if needed. Five food parcels were handed out to hungry people.

Also I need to thank every single  member of the team that attended the demo in my absence. Roy has given me a brief outline of yesterday’s events and I’m thankful of that.

 

 

 

The weather yesterday was terrible to put it mildly. It was extremely windy and the rain was bouncing down thanks to storm Diana, and it’s hard work standing outside for two hours in those conditions.

 

Gordon dropped the food parcels off and so the morning started. Because the weather was awful people were dashing in and out of the Jobcentre, heads down wanting to get their appointments over with as soon as possible. As a result it was hard engaging people in conversation, and I apologise for the lack of material in this weeks blog.

 

As usual, some people were waiting for the food parcels, albeit in different places desperate to find shelter.

It’s abhorant that people need to use food banks in the first place and we all need to campaign in whatever way possible about the very need for them.

Supermarkets set up boxes for people to donate food, and the poorest that have needed to use food banks themselves often donate the most. I argue that supermarkets should provide this food themselves, not the public. They can afford to do so, but hey my opinion means naff all in the world outside my blog and campaigning.

 

 

Roy told me of a man that looked distressed upon entering the Jobcentre. He apparantly left the Jobcentre in even more distress. He shouted ‘They’ve left me with nothing, I’ve got nothing, what am I supposed to do?”

Apparently he had made a claim for universal credit and was a chap about ten years older than myself. A man brought up in what seems like a different world, a world that cared for people, a world that had a good safety net that could be relied upon. Now the safety net has disappeared, gone, nowhere to be seen.

He was advised to take a food parcel and signposted to various local organisations that might be able to help. Will he contact these groups? Who knows. He might feel ashamed that his life has come to this, a bag of food and some kind words by strangers.

Universal credit, the benefit reforms and the governments so called austerity measures are responsible for the deaths of thousands, this we do know. People like this man are a high risk of becoming one of these deaths simply because there’s no real safety net at all, NHS services are cut to the very bone and trust in organisations such as Mind and Citizens Advice are low because of their involvement with the DWP.

The DWP has now become the enemy of the people, something to be feared. The DWP buys off charities and organisations and even has supermarkets like Sainsbury’s spying on disabled people for them.

Big brother is here in the form of the DWP.

Disabled people and many unemployed people are becoming afraid to leave their houses for fear of abuse by the right wing types, discriminated against because they have a disability, discriminated against because they are poor.

We know that this isn’t acceptable but to thousands it is. The tories have directed a hate campaign via the media and it worked, people have become even more isolated than before.

Like my friend Paula said yesterday, we need the left wing, especially the Labour Party to change the language that they use, lets stop pitching workers against disabled and unemployed people please, because thats exactly what it feels like.

 

Yesterday was tough, tough for many reasons and reality is tough. No amount of positive thinking can change this.

We will be back next week, and I will certainly be there, so come and say hello. We do important work and people rely upon us.

Know this, as you’re reading this, someone will be thinking of taking their own life because they can’t take any more persecution from the DWP.

Know that a mother or father or both won’t be able to eat today because they can’t afford to do so, but they will feed their children.

Know that a young person will be leaving care with little or no support, many becoming homeless.

Know that an individual or family will be made homeless today and won’t have anywhere to turn, many having to sofa surf or live in rat infested temporary accommodation.

I could go on for forever but you get the picture. People are dying and the government doesn’t care.

 

 

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