It feels strange to be writing this blog post this week because I’ve actually been able to return to my weekly demo and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.
The DWP and local council might have mistakenly thought that I had stopped doing the weekly demos. I haven’t and dependant on my health I’m back.
This week I decided to stand outside the old Jobcentre building that had been shut down and moved to the new swanky council building. The truth is they underestimated the demand for the Jobcentre and were forced to re open the old one as well.
The old building has had a bit of a makeover, Laurence Llewellyn Bowen has nothing on this transformation. The doors have been repainted, a new carpet put down and what looks like cattle pens with numbers on installed.
Obviously this transformation wasn’t made to make the people that use the Jobcentre feel at ease, I can bet it has the opposite effect.
This week I was on my own accompanied by my daughter and two lovely men filming for french tv. They’re making a programme about the UK’s benefit system and have interviewed the amazing Debbie Abrahams, myself and they’re going to interview the dark lord himself David Cameron.
I was asked many times about my opinion of him, I answered that he’s got the blood of thousands of vulnerable and disabled people on his hands. Along with Ian (I’ll hide in car boots) Duncan Smith there’s a special place in hell for them.
Back to the demo. I chose the old Jobcentre because it’s actually very busy full of people coming and going looking rather stressed whilst doing so.
It wasn’t long until I had a conversation with a man who wasn’t far from retirement age. He had been given an appointment to attend a ‘Working Well’ interview despite being disabled and unable to work.
The DWP with all their infinite knowledge sent him a text message without an address to go to. Basically he didn’t know where his appointment was.
He walked to a building down the road and was told that his appointment wasn’t there and he had to go back to the Jobcentre.
Back at the Jobcentre he was told that he had to get back to the other building and they’d changed the time of his appointment without informing him. Typical DWP communication failure once again. Call me cynical but I’m sure that they do this on purpose sometimes.
To say that this gentleman was distressed was an understatement. He said ” Why can’t they leave me alone? I can’t work and no one will employ me”.
It wasn’t long before I spoke to a young woman that is completely fed up with the DWP. She’s started her own photography business and she’s doing her best to promote it and to find work
The DWP won’t leave her alone though. Every two weeks she still has to attend a back to work interview and she can’t cancel the appointment even if she’s working.
The DWP once again making it very hard for anyone to succeed by themselves. Her business is called WJ Photography and I think she’s on Instagram and Ticktok.
As it became notably colder, probably because we had been standing there for a while we spoke to a man that looked like he was going to start crying at any time.
His story his hard, but sadly not unusual.
As is often the case he had been living in substandard social housing. His home was full of damp and unsuitable to live in.
After a few years of struggling to get the housing association to take action they finally attempted to fix it. This left him without electricity and sleeping at his son’s place on the floor.
He explained the situation to the DWP who were totally unsympathetic telling him that he still had to look for work online for 35 hours a week.
He’s been looking for work since 2018 and can’t find a job, this isn’t without trying because he’s tried damned hard.
I then had a conversation with a chap that I used to speak to on a regular basis outside the Jobcentre. He told me that he was stressed because his mobile phone and internet are due to be cut off because he can’t afford to pay the bill.
Being aware that he needs to search for work online and has to have a working phone number for the DWP to contact him on has resulted in him feeling extremely stressed.
He told me that he’s found an old sim card that’ll work for the DWP to phone him on but he’s worried about his job searching.
I advised him to use the internet at the library or Ikea, but life shouldn’t be like this for a person who’s 60 years of age.
The universal credit system was created to punish people for being poor and for being disabled, never ever forget that.
I really hope that they’re ok , telling them that I’d be back again next week if they want some advice or someone to talk to. After all kindness costs nothing and it makes a massive difference to a person’s day.
I’ll be returning again next week and I’ll be publishing a blog post tomorrow about the new Jobcentre closures.
I need your help though. I need people to share this blog post and my others as much as possible. I want to continue to report about the impact that DWP decisions have on people and how this is still happening.
It would be amazing if I could be joined by some other like-minded people. It’s a big ask I know but it’s essential that we can remind the DWP that we are still here and we are still reporting on their misdoings.
If anyone could donate towards buying someone a cuppa etc I’d be eternally grateful. It’s winter and it’s cold here. A nice hot cuppa keeps the morale going.
If anyone would like to donate towards the campaign and my blog there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog post.
I’m intending to continue with the weekly demos which are dependant on my health. I’ve still got long covid and a lung that’s not functioning as it should be. Thanks covid.
If I have to cancel a week it’ll be for health reasons only. Apologies in advance.
A huge thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog and campaign. These past two years have been extremely challenging for us all and I really do appreciate it.