Tag: human rights violations

Suspended payments for 6 months because they were seen carrying a food parcel.

Dear readers it’s Thursday and blog day. Please may I start by thanking you all for your support for my blog and my campaign.

I’m still here writing and it’s all thanks to you all.

Today was freezing cold and the crowd was gathered awaiting out food parcels.

This week we had a very kind donation of four extra food parcels from a friend.

It’s a good job that we had these extra food parcels because they were all taken.

I’m going to list today’s conversations. Please note that everyone was given appropriate help, advice, signposting etc. I even went to Wilkinsons to buy some dog food for a dog who’s owner needed a food parcel.

Many people either forget that people struggling have pets and they need to eat. Others reckon that we shouldn’t have any pets, we aren’t deserving of anything.

A much loved pet can be a lifeline for their owner and no one should be criticised for owning one.

The first conversation that I had was with a man who told me that his payments have been suspended for six months. He is claiming the ESA element of Universal credit.

I asked why and he told me that he had been reported to the DWP because he was seen carrying one of our food parcels.

I advised him to appeal this decision and he told me that he’d been advised that he can’t.

Luckily I have contacts that will be able to help him, but regardless of that he shouldn’t be expected to go without any payments for 6 months.

It’s absolutely ridiculous and is so punishing. It’s hellish and shouldn’t be happening at all.

I spoke to a young man that had to walk miles from his home to get to the Jobcentre. He told me that if he’s lucky a bus driver will let him get on a bus for nothing, if they won’t he walks.

I signposted him and bought him some dog food for his dog.

I had a conversation with a woman regarding self employment and universal credit.

Gordon spoke to two people that were making new universal credit claims and needed documentation to do so.

I spoke to a man that’s in the process of being evicted from his home. We advised him to the best of our abilities and I signposted him as well.

I overheard a man shouting ‘B####d sanctions.

I then had a long conversation with a young 18yr old woman that was crying when she was leaving the Jobcentre.

Her advisor had told her that she’s not trying hard enough to find a job, her efforts are rubbish etc. You get the idea.

The truth is that she is trying her hardest to do everything properly but it is a struggle.

No one has shown her how to find a job, how to apply for one and no one has given her any decent career advice.

Her advisor hasn’t told her about further education nor have they told her about apprenticeships etc. They refuse to help whilst criticising her to the point of tears.

Luckili we were there and I sat down with her and gave her some advice, but equally as important compassion.

For heavens sake she’s only 18 years of age, she needs guidance and hasn’t got a good family network to support her.

I gave her a copy of our survival guide and asked her to phone me if she needed my help or even just a cuppa and a conversation.

The advisor that upset her to the point of tears should be ashamed of themselves, but they won’t be. An 18yr old claimant is an easy target for them isn’t it.

I spoke to a chap that had just failed his universal credit esa element medical assessment. He is appealing this but as usual the DWP have zero compassion.

He’s been told that he has to agree to look for work whilst his appeal is being processed. If he doesn’t agree to this they’ll stop his claim.

The DWP don’t recognise that having a disability can and does prevent a person from working. Persecuting them for this won’t cure their disability it’ll make things much worse for them. Many die, some take their own life.

It’s sickening that people are being treated in this manner, it’s not getting any better it’s becoming much worse.

I honestly don’t know how we’re going to survive another five years of this.

Please read, share, tweet, blog, email my blog. It’s so important that we get the truth out there.

We will be returning to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre next week from 10am to 12 noon. Please come and say hello.

For anyone wanting to donate there’s a PayPal button at the top and side of my blog.

Thank you!

I’ve got £3 to last me for a week. Universal Credit strikes again

Wow I can’t believe that it’s Thursday again. It’s definitely a lot cooler out there so wrap up if your going out.

The cooler weather also highlights the inability for thousands of people to choose between heating and eating. Of course the government don’t want to rectify this, I’m convinced that they’re trying to kill us off.

Today was a mix of differing problems and as usual I will not be naming anyone. I hope that you understand why.

The first thing that I did today was to hand out the food parcels. We had six and within five minutes there was only one left.

The remaining food parcel was taken by a woman struggling to get by. She was claiming Universal Credit and unbeknownst to her the DWP had shut her claim down without telling her.

The DWP claim that she hadn’t signed her claimant commitment but she was adamant that she had done. This resulted in zero consultation with her and now she’s having to appeal this.

The DWP however have told her that she has to make a new claim for universal credit which means that she’s going to have to wait at least five weeks for her first payment.

She also has children and is understandably concerned about how she’s going to feed them.

Don’t expect any sympathy from the DWP though. They’ve got a cast iron weight instead of a heart.

It never get better hearing people’s DWP stories. But thank goodness we were there to help her. She’s going to appeal the DWPs decision.

I then had a conversation with a chap that I usually speak to every week. He told me that he had waited for over a hour for the bus to get to Ashton.

I can confirm that this is the norm in Tameside at the moment. Lots of our bus routes have been taken off and the ones that remain cost a lot more.

I’ve spoken to elderly and disabled people who have been housebound as a result of this. The bus used to stop right outside their houses and they can’t manage the walk to the nearest bus stop. It’s too far for them to walk etc.

If anyone from the Tameside area is reading this please join in with the Better Bus campaign.

I then spotted a woman leaving the Jobcentre. I offered her a leaflet and immediately she told me that she hates universal credit. I asked her why and she went into her pocket and got out some coins amounting to approximately £3. She said “This is all that I have until the end of next week. How on earth am I going to manage on this amount of money. ‘

Of course I advised her and signposted her to local organisations etc where she can get a food parcel from because we had ran out of them.

This is the reality of life whilst claiming Universal credit and its the same for thousands of people.

Far too many people have become accepting of this though. Many are resigned to their fate, they know that they’re going to be hungry and they think that no one cares about them.

Lots of us do care though, this shouldn’t be happening but we all to our best to help people.

We signposted quite a few people to CAB for advice and once again people having trouble with their council tax payments was mentioned. The poorest shouldn’t be made to bear the brunt of this.

We then spoke to a person that had recently been declared fit for work. They’ve got numerous disabilities and illnesses but don’t expect the DWP to care. They’re going to appeal this decision but in the meantime he was told by his DWP advisor that he’s no longer allowed to hand fit notes in.

Apparently the DWP know better than a doctor and a specialist doctor. They want everyone to look for none existent jobs despite the fact that many aren’t able to work.

As regular readers will know this is far from unusual but it never gets easier does it.

I advised a woman who’s son is being moved over from DLA to PIP.

We had a lovely conversation with a man who’s being sent on what feels like constant courses ran by and on behalf of the DWP. The latest course that they’ve been told to attend or be sanctioned is supposed to motivate people.

It’s a bit hard motivating people who are hungry and who’ve got the threat of being sanctioned hanging over their head. But hey every person that attends these courses are worth a fortune to the DWP. Not only does the DWP receive funding for these courses they also pay the providers quite a lot of money per person attending.

Wonderful isn’t it… Not. We can never forget that we’re just a number to them and we can and are exploited by the DWP at their whim.

We then had a conversation with a man that’s been having problems with his employer.

His employer is totally abusing the fact that there’s so many people looking for work. He pays people less than their long term staff. When people complain they tell them that they can walk, it doesn’t matter because they can fill the position straight away.

There’s far too many awful employers like this and it’s about time that something was done about this isn’t it.

Today we helped lots of people, provided support and gave out food parcels. We’ve been doing this for around six years now and it’s getting worse.

Please read and share my blog. Tweet it as well, email it to your local Tory MP.

I’d like to thank Gordon for all of his help today. I’d also like to thank you all for supporting the campaign and my blog.

This has become a full time job and every penny helps me to continue with both the campaign and the blog.

We’ll be returning next week and I’ll be blogging as usual.

DWP refuse to pay for DBS check but will pay over £200 for a course.

Dear readers I’m extremely sorry for the delay in publishing my blog.

This weeks demo was extremely busy, as usual the food parcels were taken as soon as they arrived. I really wish that this wasn’t the case but it will be for the foreseeable future.

As usual I will list some of the conversations that I had today, identities won’t be revealed either.

As I arrived at the spot where I pick the food parcels up from I was greeted by a chap who I had a conversation with last week. He had followed my advice and as a result he managed to get hold of some much needed work boots etc.

I’m so happy that I can signpost people, remember we don’t leave anyone in the lurch we always do our best to help everyone.

Here’s a typical example of DWP logic it’s obvious to me that they don’t really want people to find good positive employment.

Jenny spotted us she was leaving the Jobcentre, she asked me if she could have a leaflet. As I handed her a leaflet she expressed her disgust of the whole DWP system. Here’s her story.

Jenny told us that she’s a qualified nurse and she would like to return to work. She asked the DWP if they would pay for a DBS check. You’d think that the DWP would agree to this because they apparently help people into work……

The DWPs answer was this, no they wouldn’t pay for a DBS check but they would pay over £200 for Jenny to attend a door persons job.

If course we advised that a future employer should pay for the check but as we know not all employers will do this.

As I’ve said before claimants are nothing but a number to be bought and sold at the DWPs whim. They profit from sending claimants to these often rubbish courses and until this stops they won’t stop.

I was then stopped by a woman who’s being forced to attend what seems to be endless pointless DWP courses. She told me about the latest course that she was forced to attend.

She told me that she was told to attend an effective job search course for people with arthritis. Telling me about her experience she said “I was stuck in a room with lots of other people. They tried to tell us that we shouldn’t let arthritis prevent us from finding work. Easier said than done when you’re in constant pain.”

If this wasn’t enough enough she was also told that she had to attend a job fair in Ashton as well. The DWP advised her that if she didn’t attend they would sanction her.

The word on the street later was that the job fair was rubbish. Potential employers telling people that they were either too old or unsuitable for the work that they were offering. This didn’t surprise me because I’m told the same every year that they hold this event.

A little later I had a conversation with chap that I’d had a conversation with a few weeks ago. He’s been waiting for over 3 months for his first universal credit payment. He told me that the DWP have informed him that he should receive his first universal credit payment on Saturday. Let’s hope that they do.

Last but not least we spoke to a woman who was very quick to tell us that she was over £600 worse off since claiming Universal credit. She’s gone from being able to being able to cope on the benefits system to not coping at all.

Her story is that she had previously been homeless and she had been rehoused to a three bedroom house. She only needed a two bedroom home but she couldn’t refuse the offer of this property. If she did they would refuse to help her.

As a result shes now forced to pay the bedroom tax and top up rent as well as the council tax supplement. She’s applied for a help with this but she keeps on being refused. She’s also asked to move to a smaller property but this is refused also because she owes rent.

It’s absolutely shocking that local housing providers refuse to help people find smaller properties because they owe rent. Of course they’re going to owe rent they need a smaller home so that they can pay back this debt.

The whole system is geared against the poorest people in society. At every turn they get the door slammed in their faces, are told that they’re not good enough and are used by companies employed by the DWP until they burn out, become ill or disabled and are then left with no support at all.

Poverty is isolating which helps the DWP to abuse these people in whatever way they see fit. Like I said earlier we’re a commodity and we’re bought and sold at the DWP and governments whim.

We spoke to lots of people yesterday and offered help, advice, signposting, food, support and solidarity. We will return next week to help even more people.

Please read and share this blog thank you. Tweet it, email it etc because everyone needs to know the truth behind the DWPs false advertisements claiming that universal credit is the best thing ever.

For everyone who supports my blog thank you so much.

For anyone wanting to donate there’s a PayPal button at the top and side of this blog.

Universal credit is diabolical, it takes away any hope for the future.

Dear readers, due to personal circumstances this weeks blog might be short, it might not so I’ll see where it takes me.

This week I wasn’t met by any so called official telling me to move on, I was getting very annoyed about this because they were taking me away from helping people. I told them this and each one of them shrugged there shoulders and more or less said ‘well’.

It wasn’t easy resolving this but many thanks to my MP Angela Rayner and the Labour Party for supporting me, all my blog readers and fellow activists. It was completely ridiculous that they wanted to move us.

I am aware however that they’ll now be most likely looking for an excuse to move us. The security camera is constantly watching us whilst we are standing outside the Jobcentre.

The Jobcentre however aren’t celebrating with us, they’ve now shut the blinds on all of the windows so that we can’t see in. Aren’t they a lovely bunch… Not.

The weather was absolutely freezing, the wind was so cold and we ended up finishing earlier than normal. I apologise for this but it was really cold, much colder than usual. Come on spring I’m ready for some nicer weather now.

 

Today’s food parcels went straight away as usual. Everyone that needed to be helped was helped, everyone needing signposting was signposted we never leave anyone we always help everyone that approaches us.

We will hopefully be able to stay the whole two hours next week.

 

Today’s mood outside the Jobcentre echoed the weather. No one that we spoke wanted to be there, all of them were frustrated with the Jobcentre and the DWP. Universal credit has totally destroyed many of the people in my town Ashton Under Lyne. A combination of general austerity measures, massive reductions in the councils funding and universal credit has taken the soul out of the town. One day I’m certain that we will get it back.

We spoke to an older gentleman, he had attempted to make the long walk up the stairs because he didn’t know that there was a lift inside the building situated in the library. There really needs to be more signs, or at least some signs putting up outside the building telling people where everything is.

His story is this. He’s a disabled man and he doesn’t understand how this system works. No one has really taken the time to describe it to him and he’s feeling lost and frustrated.

He told us that his ESA payments were being messed with. He wasn’t receiving his payments and he didn’t know why. He’d tried to phone the DWP up twice, had waited on the phone for two hours to speak to an advisor but was cut off both times after two hours.

So an older, disabled man couldn’t get any answers. It’s ridiculous that the government will tell the public that they can always speak to an advisor, the truth is often very different. He ended up giving up and making the five mile journey to the Jobcentre to hopefully sort it out.

This poor man was struggling, he shouldn’t have had to go through this but he’s forced to.  Have I mentioned that I really hate the government and the DWP?

 

We spoke to a woman who was completely baffled by the universal credit system. Because she works and had received two wages in one month she didn’t receive her universal credit payment. It’s not her fault that the universal credit system doesn’t recognise that sometimes people do get two wages because of month changes.

I then saw a real fear in her eyes as she turned round, looked at me and said that because of this she might loose her house, become homeless and she didn’t know what to do. I gave her some advice and signposted her for help.

The truth is that thousands of people are being evicted because they’ve not been able to pay their rent because of the universal credit system. It’s not their fault they’re dealing with a cruel and inhumane system, a system that was created not to care.

It costs local governments far more to place families in emergency accommodation when they become homeless than it does to keep them in their homes. We really need to stop the hell thats universal credit and start to treat people with dignity and respect.

 

We then spoke to a woman who was also claiming universal credit.  Her problem is this.

She was dismissed from her job as a dinner lady, she went on to claim universal credit but hadn’t realised that her old employer was still paying her. Yes I know that some will say that she should have known this but she really didn’t.

Because of this she’s now got to pay back her wages and she can’t make a new claim for universal credit until next month. What a mess, of course the government will except her to live on nothing.  She’s also a carer for a family member but was refused carers allowance because her income was too high. I advised her of what to do and signposted her to relevant organisations.

 

We spoke to an older woman who was fed up of being sent on these ‘crap courses’ as she put it. She told us that these courses are absolute rubbish and haven’t helped her one bit.

Remember the DWP and the course provider make a lot of money from sending people on these courses. Unemployed and disabled people are seen as a financial commodity not a person.

 

We then spoke to a man that has been going through hell with the DWP. He’s an older man and also doesn’t understand the new DWP system. His story is this.

He’s one of the thousands of people that have failed their PIP medical assessment. He used to claim DLA. He appealed this decision and failed. He took it to the tribunal level and he failed.

As a result he’s now trying to make another claim but he is really confused, ‘It’s so confusing, I haven’t a clue what to do’ he said. He’s battling against a system that doesn’t care, that hates him and would prefer it if he disappeared somewhere.

Many of us do care though, we are trying to change things and despite what some people will say, we are making a difference. Solidarity to all fellow campaigners and to everyone suffering under this inhumane system.

This all happened in less than two hours. The DWP tried to get rid of us and for a while they really thought that they had won but they didn’t and we be back next week between 10-12 regardless of what the weathers like.

 

I can’t thank Kev and Daira from DPAC for joining us today, we really needed your support thank you so, so much.

 

Please read, share email and talk about my blog. Become a friend to someone that’s struggling with this awful system.

Thanks to Gordon and Roy for coming out today in the cold. Thank you SO MUCH.

 

If anyone would like to donate there’s a donate button at the bottom of the blog, at the top and at the side thank you so much. I’m a skint single parent trying my best to help people and fight this horrific system.

 

 

64 year old woman with multiple health condition fails universal credit medical assessment. Living in substandard accommodation. How are people supposed to survive this?

Dear readers, its Thursday yet again. The sun was shining for us today, what a welcome surprise. It was lovely to see. No joy was found from the DWP though, there’s a surprise.

I’ll be listing everything that happened today as usual. No real names will be divulged either. Today we handed out six food parcels and helped lots of people who would have otherwise been left, stranded without help by a system that doesn’t care about them.

Those of you that have been through the system or know people that have will already know that the DWPs flagship universal credit system is cruel, heartless and punishing. It discriminates against everyone but particularly women, children, single parents and people with disabilities.

Universal credit is obscenely complicated and hard to navigate, often DWP advisors don’t know the rules either. Not one department communicates with another even though universal credit is computer driven by default. You’d honestly think that the designers of it would have thought about people that are unable to use computers or don’t have any access to the internet at home. They also didn’t take into account the fact that libraries are shutting their doors or reducing the hours that they’re open because they can’t afford to stay open.

Universal credit is a system that rarely works well for anyone, but it was designed to do this, to reduce the unemployment levels by any means possible. If that means that a person takes themselves off the system because they can’t cope then so be it. No one will try and stop them either. Above the door of every Jobcentre a sign saying ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’ because that’s exactly what people do.

 

The first thing that I noticed today was the queue of women waiting for food parcels. It goes without saying that there shouldn’t be a need for us to hand food parcels out but there is, and will be for as long as this rotten government is in power.

As I was handing the food parcels out a young man stormed out of the Jobcentre. I asked him what was wrong and he shouted ‘It’s a pile of shit in there, they don’t give a shit do they’ I agreed with him and handed him a leaflet.

 

Meet Tom. Tom had successfully made an application for universal credit a couple of months ago, thats good you might think. Well, no because it appears that whoever processed his application didn’t quite do everything correctly.

Upon applying for universal credit a claimant is expected to provide ID and proof of tenancy etc at their first meeting, because as you know rent etc is all rolled into one payment every month. Here’s where Tom encountered his first problem. I say first because he’s bound to have more problems as time progresses.

Tom looked confused as he handed me a form that he had just been given by his advisor. As I looked at it he told me that he had already provided them with the ID and proof that they needed. Here’s the letter in all it’s glory.

 

In this letter he’s asked about every single detail of his tenancy, including gas and electricity check certificates and energy performance certificates. Tom has no idea what those are, his landlord didn’t issue him with these. The DWP need to remember that not all landlords actually do this.

Other questions included are ‘Are you up to date with your rent payments? If yes, provide evidence of this.’

‘Would your landlord accept less rent at times if you could not afford to pay the full rent?’

‘Will your landlord accept a lower rent if universal credit does not meet your full rent liability?’

‘Would your landlord take you to court to evict you if you failed to pay the rent?’

‘Would your landlord take legal action to recover rent arrears?’

These questions are totally ridiculous. Landlords rarely if ever lower a persons rent payment to suit the DWP, and of course a landlord will take action to evict a tenant for non payment of rent. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise, and very arrogant of the DWP to suggest that a landlord should back down to the demands of the DWP.

Honestly, the above form looks like something thats been typed out at home in a hurry. There’s absolutely nothing official on this form, no DWP logo either. It’s all very strange.

Tom quite rightly noted that they should have asked for this information when he first made his claim, he’s already received his first payment. He’d already paid his rent with this. Honestly you couldn’t make this up.

To make matters worse he had to make a new appointment just to hand in this form, if he doesn’t attend he’ll get sanctioned.

I asked him if he had moved house and he told me that he hadn’t, his was living at the same address when he made his claim for universal credit.

Luckily I was able to walk him through the questions and signposted him if he needs further help. Poor fella, he was so confused. He thanked me and he walked away hopefully less confused.

 

Tom looks after his sister who is computer illiterate, his sister struggles to get out and depends on Tom to do most tasks for him. Tom attended the Jobcentre a few weeks ago to hand his sisters fit note in. He was told quite bluntly at the reception desk that he couldn’t do this and he had to post it. So Tom posted it using an envelope that they gave him.

Today Tom attended the Jobcentre once more to hand his sisters fit note in. This time they accepted it but asked him where the previous fit note was. He told them that he’d posted it because he’d been told to. Unbelievable isn’t it.

Tom was understandably a bit fed up, saying this system is bloody ridiculous isn’t it.

 

I spoke to a woman struggling to pay the bedroom tax, a man that was sent away fro being ten minutes early and a woman who told me that she claims universal credit and PIP and its bloody awful.

I also spoke to an older woman that cares for her son who’s autistic. He had failed his latest ESA medical because apparently he ‘looked ok’. Obviously the DWP don’t recognised hidden disabilities, they’ve got quite a bad track record of this.

I spoke to a young man that has taken himself off the system because he couldn’t cope with it. I asked him how he managed from day to day, he told me that he tries his best but is dependent upon relatives. He hopes to get a job in the near future.

 

We spoke to a self employed plasterer, he quite loudly told us that universal credit has ruined many of his friends and colleagues. Universal credit made it impossible for them to continue with their trade. He was understandably angry, but angry at the government for doing this to them.

 

I spoke to Bill, bill has been sanctioned because his daughter had been taken into hospital and he missed his signing on appointment. He did telephone the Jobcentre and communicated this through his online journal, he’s even provided evidence of the hospital stay. But the gods of the DWP have decided that he’d be sanctioned so he was.

I told him that he could appeal the sanction decision and he told me that his advisor hadn’t told him that he could appeal. Thankfully hes now going to appeal this and hopefully he’ll win his appeal. He wouldn’t have known to do this if we weren’t there to inform him.

 

Meet Pat. Pat is 64 years of age and has numerous medical conditions, some quite serious. Pat hasn’t been able to work for years because of this. Pat also claims universal credit.

Pat recently attended a universal credit medical assessment, she failed this and was told that she’s now fit for work.

So the DWP gods have performed another miracle haven’t they.

Pat is determined to appeal this decision, so she informed her advisor of this. Her advisor then told her that she now needs to provide medical proof if she wants to appeal.

Pat has now had to pay £15 for a letter from her doctor. This is completely ridiculous, she’s already shown evidence of her medical conditions.

To make matters much worse Pat lives in a home riddled with damp and her landlord is reluctant to deal with it. She told me that she doesn’t know how much more she can continue like this, its becoming all too much for her.

Remember pat is 64 years of age, she shouldn’t be treated like this and she honestly didn’t expect this.

I did everything that I could to help her and signpost her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you speak to someone thats suffering as much as this. For gods sake we’re supposed to respect our elders. The DWP respects no one not even their staff.

 

I spoke to a middle aged man who’s in the process of being evicted. He told me that the move over to universal credit has caused this.n

We spoke to a young man that was prevented from attending an appointment with a friend, ten minutes later another man was prevented from entering the Jobcentre with his partner. He wanted to help her but he was turned away. The law states that a claimant is allowed support when attending an appointment but hey, the DWP employees at the front desk of Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre appear to totally disregard this.

 

Today’s conversations all happened within two hours on a Thursday afternoon. Universal credit doesn’t work, its very design dictates this.

We need to stop and scrap universal credit and replace it with a much fairer system that actually cares for people.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog.

Thank you to everyone that turned up to help today, I really appreciate this.

 

Massive thanks to everyone that supports my blog. Without you I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Your support means everything especially when times are hard. As a skint single parent I can relate to everyone that I speak to.

Keep safe, we’ll be back next week as usual.

 

 

£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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