If I die I’ll die alone and who would care? This weeks blog.

Yes it’s Thursday yet again so this morning we have been doing our weekly demo, help and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. We were very busy and there were only three of us there, we would love to see more though. The weather was lovely and sunny, and that makes a change. I expect that they’ve kept the heating on inside the Jobcentre, they like to keep it very hot, most likely to make the claimants suffering even worse.

We spoke to lots of people and I really wish that we didn’t have to do this but we do. If we didn’t then many won’t get the help that they need. If I could I would be outside every day helping people. But I’ve put in over four years commitment so no one can say that I’m not dedicated.

I’ll list todays conversations. I wish that people wern’t treated like this, but they are and at many Jobcentres up and down the country. The DWP get away with this because they are employed by the government and are directed by them. Nothing will change until they leave government, and we need to put more pressure on The Labour Party to take a tougher stance against Universal Credit and the DWP regime. It’s not good enough to say that they can’t change anything because if they are elected into government they can. It would take a lot of work but stopping this regime is very important.

 

Today I noticed a lot of heavily pregnant women entering and leaving the Jobcentre. I often wonder if they see different types of people in blocks, because I also noted a lot of older near retirement age people having to go into the Jobcentre today. More than normal.

 

I spoke to a young man I’ll call him M. I can’ give his full name incase of recriminations from the Jobcentre for talking to us. This has happened before so this is why everyone’s details are confidential. The DWP hold grudges and aren’t afraid to do so either.

He told me that he had been previously sanctioned for not attending an appointment even though he didn’t receive the appointment. (Yes I do know that this happens a lot, I’ve wrote about it on numerous occasions). He told me that he wasn’t told that he could appeal this sanction which is no surprise. But he couldn’t understand why he was told that he had to continue complying with his Jobsearching etc. It dodn’t make sense to him that he still had to comply even though he wasn’t getting any money.

He had been told that he had to Jobsearch for 38 hours a week, which is wrong. The limit is 35 hours which in itself is ludicrous,and like he said “Where are all these jobs, there arent any jobs and certainly not enough to look for 38 hours a week”.

He told me that he is still sanctioned, is hungry and he wasn’t sure about how much longer he could cope. ‘If I die, I’ll die alone because I’ve got nothing” he told me. This is how the DWP makes people feel. I won’t sugar coat it this is reality and the government disgusts me beyond words.

We had a long chat, I gave him lots of advice etc and he left us feeling happier than he did. If we hadn’t been there it could have been a whole lot worse.

Yes people are either driven to suicide or they die from malnutrition related illnesses or hypothermia. Thousands have done so and thousands will do so.

 

I spoke to an older man who has just been transferred over to Universal Credit. He has at least another seven week wait for his first payment. That’s seven weeks without money unless he gets a loan. He told me that it’s shit, life is shit and they treat you like shit. His words. He’s quite correct though.

 

I spoke to a man whom English is his second language. My heart went out to him because the DWP system is so much more complicated for him and it’s hard enough to begin with. The DWP also like to mess claimants that don’t understand around more. I’ve found that over the years that this happens.

 

I spoke to a woman that missed her ESA assement because she was ill. She wasn’t told that she could appeal etc. They’ve now put her on Universal credit but I pointed her in the right direction for help and advice.

 

We spoke to a man who had never been unemployed until now. He was an older chap and he looked bemused at the fact that the Jobcentre staff refuse to help people now. They just handed him a piece of paper with telephone numbers on it. Lovely eh.

 

I spoke to a 60 year old lady. She should be retired but the government changed the retirement age for women. The DWP have made her attend a course which takes up most of her time to look for work. Not content with humiliating her enough, they have now told her that she has to attend a second course so that she can find work quicker. Shes 60 years old, yes 60 years old. No one will employ her. Why can’t they just leave people of her age alone. This makes me angry. She deserves respect not humiliation.

 

I spoke to a man who is awaiting his first Universal Credit payment. He has another three weeks at least to wait and he told me of how his stomach has shrank because he can’t eat adequately. I’ll let that sink in. He’s hungry and the government don’t give a stuff.

 

We spoke to a woman who is waiting for her first Universal Credit payment to go through. She had applied for an advance loan but the bank took all her money out due to bank charges. We advised her that she must go to her bank and ask for a refund of those charges due to her circumstances. They can do this, I’ve done it myself.

 

We spoke to a younger man who is claiming ESA. He was clearly distressed and worried, he told us that it’s because he never knows how he is going to be treated and he’s correct in thinking that. He shouldn’t have to go through this and the DWP are making him very ill with worrying.

 

A man walked into the Jobcentre stating that they treat him like shit, a common theme today and everyday.

 

We spoke to a man who was sanctioned for being a minute late for his appointment…. He had been attending his ESA assessment. Yes this happens. He told us that it’s not fair that his voice isn’t heard. I told him that I would make sure that he is heard.

 

We spoke to a man who had missed an appointment because his letter had arrived after the appointment date. Of course the DWP told him that this was his fault not theirs. They will never shoulder any responsibility for anything that happens. The best that you will see is a shrug of the shoulders.

 

This all happened within two hours, yes two hours and I’m so grateful for Gordon and Roy for coming along. It’s very hard work and it can be heartbreaking. But we try our best to help people and to make the world a better place.

Please read, share, email, tweet, show your local Tory MP my blog. Attend their surgeries with any problems that you might have. We need to remind them that we are here and we aren’t going away.

Also I’ll leave a donation button at the bottom. I’m a single parent on a very limited income and every penny helps the campaign and the blog.

Thank you to everyone that has and does support my blog. I do struggle but I remind myself that there are plenty far worse off than myself.

Thank you.

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The government controls us with fear and oppression. We are controlled by it everyday. Please read.

Today and everyday thousands of people will receive a dreaded brown envelope in the post from the Department Of Work And Pensions.. most will feel scared, intimidated and feeling at a loss of how to carry on. No one can underestimate the fear and dread upon seeing that envelope arrive.

As I write this I have learnt that a friend of mine has been denied his PIP payments even though the DWP informed him that he didn’t have to attend another medical assessment for three years. As usual they recalled him within months and he’s panicking. He might loose his home. You see, the loss of an essential benefit payment has massive ramifications and he can’t claim the appeal rate until his appeal has been lodged but first he has to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. This is another step that the government uses to delay appeals and to make people give up altogether. Many do.

I spoke to a gentleman who is a carer. He told me that the person whom he cares for has received a letter asking him to attend another ESA assessment. and he’s been in bits ever since. He can’t understand why he is being constantly asked to attend assessments because his disability is never going to get better.
He’s been trying to learn about his legal rights and has been trying to get in touch with a local organisation that can help him. He is 64 in October and had always worked until he became disabled.
As a result many people in the same or similar position will commit suicide because they can’t cope with the DWP regime. Most of these suicides won’t be recorded as such due to a lack of evidence, therefore their suffering continues unchallenged officially, whilst the government continues to wipe their hands of such matters.

Yes people are dying as a direct result of this governments actions and I hate the government for this.

 

Every day thousands of people will be made homeless, or have the threat of being made homeless. They can’t afford to pay bedroom tax for the homes that they live in. When housed in their accommodation their local councils deemed them suitable and a decent size legally for them.
When the Bedroom Tax was introduced the rules changed, and what was previously thought to have been a home for life or a great many of years suddenly made their accommodation temporary based on their ability to pay this new bill.
They can’t move because they owe rent, most social housing organisations won’t allow a house move until there are no rent arrears, and there is also a distinct lack of smaller accommodation. It’s a loose loose situation for them
Meanwhile, their ‘social housing’ landlords can evict them and then charge the next tenant more rent and let the property on a short term basis.
Security of housing no longer exists. Whilst landlords often benefit from this.

The onset of the Bedroom Tax coincided with the introduction of the Council Tax Supplement, meaning that many people claiming benefits have to also pay an amount towards their annual Council Tax bill.
This financial year the poorest will have to pay more council tax than ever before, many councils have increased the amount to be paid due to the lack of funding from the government for local social care provision.
Whilst they don’t begrudge the idea of having to pay an amount towards this, they can’t afford to pay it and as a result many people are incarnated as a result. Upon being released from prison they still have to pay their council tax bill. Many will be made homeless as a result.
People who are making new Benefit claims are being summoned to court quickly by their local authorities in a matter of weeks. A charge of £50 is  often levied for presenting the summons.

I call these courts Kangaroo courts, believe me I’ve attended them. A local authority hires the courtroom for the day and it’s there that council employees speak to people demanding an unrealistic payment scheme. Many people don’t realise that they can actually ask to see a magistrate who will hear your case fairly. Do this.
The whole council tax system is discriminatory and unfair, and it scares people. The government should, by duty towards the most vulnerable, fund every local authority adequately in the first place.
This and the Bedroom Tax are the new Poll Tax, yet not many objected to it being implemented.

 

This week thousands of people will be hoping for warmer weather to arrive, not because they want to enjoy it but because they will no longer be cold.
Winter is cruel to everyone in fuel poverty and street homeless.
And while the energy companies make massive profits, the poorest and most vulnerable suffer.
Our energy companies have to be regulated and renationalised as a matter of urgency to prevent this endless suffering.

Everyday many people will be forced to become carers for parents, relatives and friends only to be persecuted by the government and the Department Of Work And Pensions for doing so, yet they save the government money and do an excellent job. They should be praised, not punished.

Many women are forced to live with abusive partners because of cuts to refuges and other essential services.
Funding to the police has also been cut time and time again, so responding to incidences relating to domestic is often slow.
One woman dies every 3 days as a result of domestic violence, many more woman are injured, and as a result of the governments cuts this figure will undoubtably rise.

As I write this many people will have been forced to shoplift for food, clothes and toiletries because they don’t have the means to pay. I know this happens, I speak to people all the time who have been forced to do this. I also know people that have been forced to beg just to collect money to buy food whilst they are waiting for their claims to be processed.
A claim for Universal Credit takes at least six weeks to process, leaving individuals and families to go without food and other essentials.
The government argue that they can take a loan out whilst waiting for their claim to process, but for many this isn’t an option.
The DWP loans are repayable at an amount of up to 40% of their total Universal Credit payments each month, leaving them in perpetual poverty.

I wish that I could say that the above examples are unusual, that they don’t exist. Working or not working we are all affected by them, or know someone that is, they’ve become an accepted part of everyday life, but we shouldn’t accept this as the norm. Being cruel and callous isn’t the norm, far from it but yet these policies are.

 

The government is using an age old method of controlling it’s population. Fear. Fear is a tool that is very easy for governments to use should they wish to. Instead of beating a person or group of people or an individual into submission they take away their very necessities to sustain life, deliberatly making it laboriously hard to appeal any decision made by them. They just don’t care. A society living in fear is easier to control and manipulate so they  use to subjugate the wider population and what form that fear takes is irrelevant.
We must continue to challenge the government upon each and every one of these issues, it has never been as important to do so.

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Well done to the creator of this piece of artwork. I spotted it yesterday whilst walking around Ashton Under Lyne. Treat folk with contempt that they don’t deserve and this is the consequence.

Please join us on Thursday for our usual demo 10-12 outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Please like, share, read, email my blog. I’m going to try to get a few extra blog pieces out every week and I hope that my readers are agreeable to this.

Please donate if you can, I’ll leave a donate button underneath. I’m a single parent just trying my best to fight against this unjust system and this callous government.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dwp-told-dying-dads-gp-9529945

 

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!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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What’s the point in trying to stop them from sanctioning me? They do it anyway. A man defeated by the system.

I’m going to start this weeks blog by thanking all of my readers, supporters, followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook. Also I want to than all my activist friends for their support.

Today was absolutely freezing cold. Not only did I have to contend with walking the mile to school on what was effectively sheet ice, the wind chill was awful. I really don’t know how anyone that is street homeless survives in this weather. I only stood for nearly a couple of hours and I was chilled to the bone. The national and local severe weather emergency provision is unsatisfactory also. All different authorities use differing thermometers and rulings. Once the weather on their individual thermometers reaches above zero then there isn’t any provision.

They don’t keep in mind that their thermometers can be wrong, and people can and do still die on the streets in above zero temperatures. Today with the cold, and wind chill it’s much colder than they think. Ultimately it’s all about saving money though and denying responsibility. A national system needs to be introduced, where every local authority uses the same temperature measure, ideally the Met Office and take things like wind chill, feels like temperature and rain into account.

Anyway I have digressed from the demo, but it’s a subject that I’m passionate about. I speak to many street homeless folk and I can’t imagine the hell that they go through on a daily basis.

 

Anyway like I’ve said it was cold, so much so that we had to leave 20 minutes early. There was only three of us, and a couple of friends came to say hello, thank you! I’m always wary that I don’t want anyone to become ill. But I apologise anyway.

 

The first person that I spoke to today was a lady who told me that she was grieving. There had been a death in her family and she was trying to cope as well as keep up with the DWP regime. She had handed a sick note in, but unfortunately it had ran out so back on the treadmill she goes. I handed her a leaflet which she was thankful for.

 

I spoke to a lady who was new to the DWP system due to a relationship breakdown. She has two children, one still very young, but her advisor has given her an unreasonable job search time in her claimant commitment. I advised her and she will be taking this further. I gave her a survival guide which she was grateful for.

 

We spoke to an older man who’s son is claiming Universal Credit . His told us that his son is 50 years old and has a degree. He is looking for work and is doing his best. He told us that the DWP staff are ‘buggers’ who don’t help anyone but themselves. It must be awful seeing his son in this position and worrying about him also.

 

We spoke to a man who had won two tribunals to reinstate his JSA payments, but the DWP are still refusing to pay him. The DWP have given him all sorts of rubbish excuse that don’t amount to any substance at all, and they are ignoring the tribunals order to pay him his money. He will be appealing this though, he’s very knowledgeable and will hopefully be visiting the Law Centre in Manchester for further help.

 

I spoke to a few people that were walking out of the Jobcentre clutching colourful, glossy brochures. They informed me that they contain information about a health and wellbeing course at a local college. I will endeavour to get further details of these courses.

 

We spoke to an older man who looked very despondent. We asked him what the problem was and he told us that he was sick of that place (the Jobcentre). We handed him a leaflet and told him that it would help him, and hopefully prevent him from being sanctioned. He looked at the leaflet, looked at us and said “What’s the point? They do it anyway.” That, readers are the words of a defeated man. His pride has gone, and the system has ground him down as much as it can. This is what the system does to people, it takes a person’s spirit from them, I’ve seen it countless times and it sickens me.

 

I spoke to a lady who I speak to on a weekly basis. She’s so lovely and always has a smile for us despite having a hard time. She has had the flu, works for 12 hours a week and relies on the top up element of Universal Credit. Because she claims the top up element she still has to do a weekly job search which she keeps to stringently. Today her advisor told her that she hadn’t looked for work enough. Luckily for her she proved that she had done so. She was so close to wrongly having her top up wrongly sanctioned, and thanks to our advice she had the evidence. This is how easy it is to be sanctioned and it angers me.

 

We handed out 6 food parcels, all full to the top, handed out extra bread, handed out copies of our survival guides, gave comapssion, understanding and sympathy. All of those qualities the DWP are devoid of. I’m very sad to say that we had to leave early, 20 minutes early but we were really cold. I’m still cold. But we will return next week as usual and will be there for the full two hours.

Steve if you are reading this get well soon!

Thanks to my rocks Gordon and Roy for coming today. I’m very aware that it wasn’t easy for you so a massive thank you.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was cold and busy today outside the Jobcentre.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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Fuel banks are they the answer and is this a new idea? 

There was an article in the guardian this week about fuel banks being opened to work alongside food banks. They are saying that this is the first time that this has happened and it is a breakthrough. Yes we have never had a fuel bank so to speak, but his is certainly not a new idea. For many years now they have existed, this  scheme was ran by local authorities from funding given by the government.  This worked well once people were correctly signposted to the correct department. So why were the fuel banks created? 

Fuel banks have been created to fill the shortfall in the stopping of the funding for the local authorities that had been running for many years. Fuel banks provide people in need with £49 worth of credit which should in theory last for two weeks. People are reffered to the fuel banks in exactly the same way that people were referred to the local authorities for help, via a food bank, social worker or doctor. MP Frank field said that fuel banks are a major breakthrough, but they aren’t. They are simply distributing energy credit in the same way as before but from a different organisation. As usual the government stopped the funding to local authorities so it was taken up and the gap filled by another organisation. 

Is this essential? Yes it is, without this people in need will go hungry and cold. Is it moral that the government and the energy companies allow this to happen? No it most certainly isn’t. This issue should be confronted and dealt with.

Poverty affects 1/3 of the UK population, personally I think it’s more than that. What is the definition of poverty? ” when a persons resources are not sufficient to meet their minimum needs” and here lies the problem. Until this problem and has been dealt with food banks and fuel banks are providing an essential sticking plaster over the problem that will continue to exist until it’s dealt with. 

The D.W.P were asked to publish the deaths resulting from the punishing sanctioning regime and ESA related deaths, they were first asked to do this in 2012, but they have refused to do so. They’ve now been punched to do this again and are said to be releasing these figures very soon. Personally I will not believe this until I see it. In July 2012 10,600 people were said to have died as a result of changes to ESA claims and claims ending but he DWP. This figure will now be a lot higher, combine this with the deaths of people that have died as a result of sanctioning and I’m sure that it will be regarded as something not short of a national disaster, especially when we already know that 1 in 5 benefit related deaths are related to sanctions.

Maybe this is why they are very reluctant to release the figures, it paints a very different picture than the economic recovery that the Tory government keep talking about. It should cause outrage, people should be disgusted. But will they? I doubt it. The attitude that if it’s not  happening to me then it doesn’t matter is very wrong. So let’s change this.

Events this week. 

March against austerity in Manchester tomorrow, starts at 12pm meet up in Piccadilly gardens. This march is for everyone who cannot get down to London for the big March on June 20th. Please come along I shall be there.