Tag: Ian Duncan Smith

DWP nudging claimants into looking for non existent jobs. We need to see an end to expensive school uniform policies.

Dear readers its Thursday once again and once again I’m unwell.
After my last admission to hospital I’ve now got another dose of pleurisy thanks to long covid.
I really want to be well again I hate feeling like this.

In other news fellow blogger  Frank Zola has published his blog stating that the DWP have been nudging claimants into finding none existent jobs.
Read it here

https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/millionsofdigitalnudges/amp/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email_subscription&__twitter_impression=true

If this link doesn’t work I’ll try and sort it out.


It’s absolutely ridiculous to be putting such pressure upon claimants whilst we are in the middle of a pandemic.

There’s hardly any jobs out there at the moment.
It’s also extremely worrying that many of these people will be recovering from covid 19.

Where are people going to find these none existent jobs? Zero hour contracts? Self employment?

Believe me when I say that the demand for employment is far higher than the actual jobs available.

You can also bet that the DWP will sanction people for not finding non existent work even though they claim to be using a ‘light touch’ admin at the moment.

I predict thousands more people becoming homeless in the near future.
The government isn’t offering and substantial help either. They just don’t care.

It’s extremely worrying. You’d think that the DWP would understand this but it appears that they don’t.


The demand upon food banks and outside help is going to become much higher and independent food banks and organisations are really going to struggle to survive.

If you can please support your local independent organisations. They usually receive no funding and they rely upon donations.


School uniforms once again.

I can guess that you’re fed up with me talking about school uniforms now but I have an update.
This morning I was interviewed by ITV about the cost of expensive school uniforms.

Having to pay for these expensive uniforms puts immense pressure upon parents and children.
All parents want the best for their children but they just can’t keep up with the ever increasing cost of school uniforms.

I’m in the fortunate position to be able to campaign against the need for these expensive school uniforms.
As I’ve said before they don’t make a child learn more, it’s just an added burden upon parents and children.

Whilst I think that it’s brilliant that charities are doing their best to support parents with school uniform costs, I want to challenge the need for them in the first place.

Charities and organisations are already under immense pressure to help people.
I prefer to end the need for expensive uniform in the first place which will in turn help the charities and organisations.

That said if you know of any charities that are helping parents with the cost of uniforms and uniform pieces please comment below. I want every parent that are struggling to get the help that they need.

I’ll have to sign off now because I feel awful but I will be back again next week.

Please keep safe and wear a mask etc when going out.

For everyone struggling, I hear you, I’m in the same position as you. We can get through this.


Thank you so much to everyone that reads, shares, tweets and supports my blog.
It’s been a tough year and I really appreciate your support.


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

Too soon to re open schools? I have concerns.

It’s Thursday yet again, it appears to creep up on me far too quickly. I really hope that you are OK, well and safe.

This week has been a mixed bag for me, some good days mixed with some awful ones. I bet that you can relate to this.

Being poor and recovering from Covid 19 is no joke. Suffering from long covid is no joke either, especially when the highlight of the day is beans on toast when you can muster up the strength to make it.

We struggle on though. There are some fantastic Long Covid groups on Facebook and we support each other. It’s a good job that we do because not many other organisations do.

I am worried about a second wave coming in September when we have been told that we have to send our children back to school.

So many people still believe that children can’t catch Covid 19. They can and they do. Many unknowingly will be symptom free and will be at risk of passing the virus onto their loved ones.

Are our children going to be used as some type of sick experiment by the government?

My daughter attends a secondary school, her school has decided to keep lesson time to the very basics therfore her hours at school will now be from 10 until 2.40pm.

This won’t stop the spread of covid 19 though. Her school is a new school but they don’t turn the air conditioning on and many of the teachers don’t open the windows either.

Children will be stuck in this hot, sweaty environment at a very close proximity to their friends.

The school hasn’t suggested that children should wear a mask, but I’d challenge anyone to get all of the pupils to wear a mask all day. It’d be a challenge to say the least.

I am very concerned though. I don’t think that the government has thought this through, just like they didn’t put enough thought into pubs reopening.

As we’ve seen in the news lots of people have contracted Covid 19 from a visit to a pub. I’ve no doubt that it’ll be the same when our schools reopen.

I, like most parents want the best for my daughter. I want her to be able to have all of her lessons, to he educated and to do well in life.

Sadly, it looks like she doesn’t stand a chance of that the way that things are planned at the moment.

Educating children online isn’t the answer either. Thousands of families don’t have the Internet or don’t have a device to watch the online lessons on.

So what’s the solution then?

I do think that having a dedicated television channel for lessons would be beneficial. Children can often learn more visualy and some good results could come from this.

We could also learn alot from the parents of home educated children. They’ve been doing it for years, and so many home educated children go to college and university.

They rock this!

But I’m aware that I’m missing one important point.

I’m sure that my daughters school isn’t the only one that will be reducing their teaching hours and lessons.

What will the parents of these children do when they have to go to work? You can’t just leave children to their own devices, to rely on them to go to school without prompting.

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have gone into school if my parents weren’t there to make sure that I did.

This puts parents in a very difficult situation. Childcare is expensive and not everyone has family members that they can ask to help.

People are desperately trying to hold onto their jobs if they’re lucky enough to still be employed. They can’t rely upon their employers to be sympathetic either.

What I do know is that if their children are absent from school, their school will soon be chasing them up and threatening them with legal action.

This isn’t at all fair though. Those making these decisions have absolutely no idea about what life is really like.

Then we have school uniforms to buy.

School uniforms are very expensive,

I know that I can’t afford to buy my daughter a new uniform this year. Thousands of parents will be in the same position as me.

My daughter has sensory issues so buying her school uniform is difficult at best.

To say that it’s humiliating and depressing to not being able to provide necessities for our children is an understatement.

Hopefully my daughter will never experience this when she has children.

When you’re left with no choice but to have beans on toast once a day how on earth can they demand that you buy a school uniform as well?

In my area there are no school uniform grants available which is shocking.

My daughters school, and most secondary schools send home pupils that aren’t wearing the correct uniform.

Once again discriminating against children living in poverty.

We will try but it’s not going to be easy.

So whilst it’s easy to congratulate the fact that schools are re opening on September, please consider the above.

I don’t want my daughter to catch Covid 19, I don’t want her friends to either. I also don’t want to catch it again.

I want my daughter to have a good education, but the very idea of that is seemingly impossible at the moment.

Will the government give out children time to catch up with what they’ve missed? I doubt it. Working class children aren’t high on their priority list, if at all.

Will the government give parents free access to online and in print learning materials?

Will the government push to dedicate a TV channel in the daytime for the visual education of children?

I doubt this very much.

Once again it’s left to us, as parents and carers to do the best that we can under very tough circumstances.

I do think that schools are re opening too early.

It’s easier to distance primary school age children from each other than it is a group of teenagers.

This is also going to be very tough and challenging for teachers.

Teachers in America have been advised to make a will just incase they catch covid 19 and die.

I’m certain that many teachers here in the uk will be doing the same thing.

I can’t imagine what could be worse than stuck in a hot, sweaty classroom with children for hours knowing that viruses, germs and bacteria thrive in environments like this.

How many teachers and children will become ill or worse because of the government’s decision to re open schools?

Will the government make the decision to shut the schools again if mortality rates from Covid 19 increase?

I doubt it, once that open they’ll be expected to stay open.

We have a government incapable of putting any positive plans into action. They blatently show their hatred of the working classes by the actions that they’ve taken and not taken.

The government has blood on its hands for more than one reason. They’re up to their necks in it.

It’s up to us to keep reminding them that we are important, that our life’s do matter and our children are valuable.

Don’t get me started on this idea. Covid 19 tests are very unreliable and weekly tests are just not doable. No doubt they’ll expect already hugely burdoned teachers to do this as well.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. I really do appreciate everyone that does this for me.

I don’t get paid for anything that I do and it is a struggle. For anyone wanting to donate there is a donate button at the side and top of this blog.

Thank you so much to everyone that does support my work and campaign. I really can’t thank you enough xx.

Surviving is an act of civil disobedience. My Covid 19 journey and recovery.

Dear readers I hope that you are OK and well as is possible. I apologise for rambling on about my covid 19 experience but it’s been my reality for what seems like a long time now.

I had contracted bacterial pneumonia after starting with my covid symptoms and I’m now on my third lot of antibiotics because it just wasn’t shifting.

Last week I ended up having to go back to the covid clinic near me. It’s a strange place to have to go to and you have to attend by car which rules out anyone that doesn’t drive. Luckily I could ask my friend to take me.

After following all the instructions I eventually managed to see a doctor. She was very nice and she was very patient with me because I really didn’t feel well at all.
After examining me she told me that my lungs were still crackling, especially my right lung.
She prescribed some different antibiotics and they hopefully appear to be working.

Whilst the covid 19 clinic system does work its not without its faults.

To obtain an appointment at the clinics you have to phone 111 and then go through a couple of phone calls with their telephone operatives.

The first person that I spoke to wanted an ambulance to attend but luckily after speaking to a paramedic I was then directed to the covid clinic.

If you don’t have access to a telephone or you don’t have credit you can’t do this.

I then spoke to someone from the covid clinic who then informed me that they would be phoning me back with an appointment time.

They did phone me back after a hour to give me an appointment in twenty minutes time.
Luckily my friend lives nearby and could do this.

If you don’t have access to a car you can’t attend.
My recommendation if you don’t have a car to attend a covid 19 clinic would be to go to hospital if you feel really ill. Don’t mess around I wish that I had done this in the first place.

Upon attending you have to buzz in at the door. You are then answered and told to go and wait in the car for a phone call from them to go to the door to be seen.

I waited, received the phone call and was let in by a lovely nurse wearing full PPE. She asked me to put one of their masks on which I did.

I was then ushered into a room to wait for the doctor. Once she arrived she examined me and told me that my lungs were crackling, my heart was racing and my temperature as up again.

I explained to her what had happened and she told me to go and wait in the car for another phone call to discuss my treatment etc.

I then went to wait in the car and was prescribed a different course of antibiotics. She told me that if I become worse to either attend again or go to the hospital. Whilst this service is brilliant it’s not the easiest to access if you don’t drive. I doubt that a taxi driver would want to put themselves at risk from catching it and who can blame them.

It’s been a very long journey for me and thousands of others. Our stories are being largely ignored.

Recovering from covid 19 symptoms is extremely hard and it’s a very long journey.

I’ve been asked by lovely people if I was better after a few days of becoming ill. Of course I wasn’t but there is a distinct lack of education regarding covid 19 recovery and the complications that often occur.

Whilst everyone is saying that you must get a test these tests are very unreliable. So many people are getting false negative results.

Please don’t rely on these tests. If you have symptoms then self isolate yourself and everyone that lives with you. This is extremely important, it can save life’s.

Yesterday 324 people died as a result of contracting covid 19 and still the government is relaxing the quarantine restrictions.

The only reason that they’re doing this is to enable their friends to make money.
They worship at the feet or commerce and profit and care nothing about the risk to life.

Like my friend Keith Ordinary Guy says ‘Survival is an act of civil disobedience’.


When I say that they don’t care if we survive they really don’t. As long as some people remain for them to profit from their happy.
The irony is that alot of people that would have voted for them have died or are extremely ill.
You’d think that they’d care about this wouldn’t you.

I’ve been ill for that long that I’ve lost count of the days.
I’ve gone from a fairly active person, always out walking and doing something to being stuck at home reliant upon the kindness of friends and the delivery of a weekly food parcel.

Whilst food parcel food is keeping me going it is by no means really good for you and full of vitamins.
Maybe this is why I keep rebounding. Who knows?

I really don’t want this blog to turn into my weekly moan, but so many people are going through the same as I am.
I’ve tried to carry on and be productive. Yesterday I cut a few weeds down in the garden and today I’m exhausted.

It is what it is and I have to accept that.
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone dying and suffering from covid 19 and their families.
Please can we all continue to talk about them, to remember their names and not forget them.

The reason why so many people are dying is because the government has totally and knowingly neglected to protect the public.

Their social distancing rules are extremely unclear and hard to follow.

Remember that they’re still practicing herd immunity by stealth in plain sight.


I can bet that you’ve all seen the queues for IKEA reopening the other day.

When I went to Asda to get my prescription dispensed I was the only person wearing a mask.

It’s sickening to see so many people gathering together like this wearing no face masks etc.
Maybe they think that they’re invincible and aren’t going to catch it.
It’s now become not of they catch it but when they catch it.

So many people are going to become very ill or die as a result of this. It worries me deeply.

Remember that the government is relaxing the rules not because its for our own good but because they want to profit from us.

Each and every person has a price over their heads and the government loves to exploit this.


Whilst the government has left a trail of death, distruction and failure behind them let us leave a trail of love, kindness and solidarity.

They can’t keep their power for forever and we must remember this.

Please keep safe, I think about you all each and every day.

Love to you all xxx.


Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. A huge thank you to everyone that has and does this xx.


I run this blog and campaign on next to no money at all, especially since I’ve been ill.

For anyone wanting to donate there’s a donate button at the top and side of this blog. For anyone needing my PayPal ad it’s seercharlotte@gmail.com

A huge thank you to everyone that has supported the blog and myself. I really can’t thank you enough xx.

Not a merry Christmas for the victims of the cruel DWP regime.

Dear readers the blogs late. I apologise for this once again.

As many of us have dreaded Christmas has arrived again, this is a stark reminder of how poor we are, what we don’t have whilst we watch those that can afford to buy lots of things that they don’t need on TV and YouTube.

Many of you will be spending your first Christmas without a loved one, being alone for the first time is a scary thing.

I hear you, I’m with you. Hang on in there it will get easier.

For everyone dependant upon food banks for food over the Christmas period. I’m with you, I’m doing the same. It’s hard to piece a meal together from the contents of a food parcel, I hear you, I’m doing the same.

Hang on in there, I’m here for you, we’re here for each other.

Yesterday was our annual Christmas Demo and it was a huge success despite Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre and the building manager of the Tameside One building being rather disgruntled at our being there. We had to agree to take our banners down but we marched around the market grounds with them, making more people aware of our campaign and our advice service.

We also laid a wreath in memory of everyone that has died as a result of the government’s cruel austerity measures and their inhumane DWP regime. We do this every year, it’s important to remember everyone that has died, hoping that one day we will get justice for each and every person and their families.

A huge thank you to everyone that came to support us yesterday.

0ust last week we lost our only chance for at least five years of ending this cruelty.

Working class voters were tricked into lending their votes to the Tory party, believing the lies that Brexit will ‘be done’ straight away.

Brexit won’t happen overnight like they thought though, more fool them.

The Tory party has already broken some of their promises made in their election campaign. They’ve got absolutely no intention of keeping them either.

As a result things are going to get a whole lot worse than they are now.

Unemployment will rise, homelessness will increase, the DWP regime will become a whole lot worse, communities will become even more divided.

I could go on for forever but remember this.

If you voted for the Tories then you voted for more poverty, a decrease in your wages etc. Own it.

If you have children and they find out that you effectively voted to ruin their futures they’re going to be extremely angry.

Good luck with that.

We’ve handed out possibly hundreds of food parcels out this year, I personally have bought shopping for people, sourced prams, baby clothes and household basics for others.

As I was handing a food parcel to a young woman yesterday she turned round and shouted to the public “This woman has helped me when no one else would. She got a pram for my baby, she fed us, she’s helped me so much. I can’t thank her enough for this, I don’t know what would have happened to me if she hadn’t done this”

This nearly brought tears to my eyes. She’s wonderful, a survivor currently battling her awful social housing landlord.

Yesterday all of our special Christmas food parcels were taken as soon as they arrived.

We put two pasting tables outside the Jobcentre and filled them with free coffee and tea, biscuits, mince pies, cakes and leaflets.

A

s usual Ashton Jobcentre staff didn’t like us doing this, maybe they took offence to the Christmas music that we were playing. After all the DWP doesn’t believe in Christmas.

It’s hard to say what has been the most heartbreaking story that I’ve heard, they are all equally heartbreaking. Please read through my blog you’ll definitely agree with me.

I’d like to say Merry Christmas to all my readers and supporters. Your support has kept me and the campaign going this year.

For anyone struggling to celebrate Christmas please take solace that it will soon be over, the reminders of opulence will soon be gone and life will continue as normal.

For everyone suffering under the torturous DWP regime remember that you’re not alone. We care, lots of people care. Keep strong and don’t let the b######s grind you down.

We shall return after Christmas stronger than ever ready to continue our fight against the government and the DWP.

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. A huge thank you to everyone that has already.

Please donate if you can. I live on an extremely low income and am having to collect food parcels myself.

Thank you so much to everyone that has already this year.

Forced to attend DWP course dispite having multiple disabilities.

Dear readers and supporters once again I have to apologise for publishing this blog late. I’ve been out campaigning for my local Labour Party.

Anyway today was pretty dire, it was raining, in fact it still hasn’t stopped.

It was also cold, deadly weather for street homeless people and anyone that can’t afford to heat their homes.

Once their clothes become wet, they can’t dry them so they become very cold and hypothermia can set in. This can be deadly so please spare a

thought for people in this situation.

As usual all the food parcels were gone as soon as I handed them out. Most of them were needed by people having problems paying their council tax and extra top up rent. If they can’t pay the council will take the money directly from their universal credit payments. Their social housing landlord will also threaten to evict them even though the person that I spoke to owed less than £100.

New Charter housing certainly don’t give a toss about their tenants but that’s another story.

We spoke to lots of people today but sadly we had to end the demo early because we were drenched and cold.

I had a conversation with a man that has several disabilities which prevents him from applying for many of the jobs on offer.

Dispite this his job coach has told him that it would be in his best interests to attend a so called wellbeing course.

Wellbeing is the latest buzzword being used by the DWP. They like to pretend that these rubbish courses will help people, especially disabled people.

They don’t however tell the person being forced onto these courses that they (the DWP) gain financially from sending people on these courses as do the course providers.

We are seen as a pound sign, a number of which they can profit from.

What they forget is that most people have enough commonsense to realise that no one can ever be cured by attending a course. They’re another reason to harass a person more, to sanction them if the course provider advises them to.

The whole system is crooked, people are being harassed so much by the DWP that they can’t see a future for themselves and they take their own life. Meanwhile the DWP will still send letters out to the families of the deceased.

It’s Orwellian in nature, they control a person’s life to the extent that they can cut off their very means of survival with the click of a button on a computer.

I spoke to three people that are having problems with their housing benefit claims. Our local housing benefit department at Tameside Council aren’t the best.

Please can they start talking to people as if they’re human beings, with respect and not disdain? It’s not too much to ask is it.

I spoke to a single parent that had been asked to attend their first back to work interview because their child is now two years old.

They were understandably nervous and had no idea of their rights regarding job searching etc. Thankfully we were able to help them and we handed them a copy of our survival guide.

Call me old fashioned but I’m a firm believer that a parent or carer should be able to stay at home with their child until their child reaches school age or older. Obviously parents that want to work should do so but the option should be there.

Children need their parents, it’s vital for their development.

Children also need to be able to eat good, healthy food and live in a warm house. These very basic things are denied by this cruel government.

I write this on the eve of the general election, the most important General election in many years. Let’s hope that we get a good result. If we don’t many of us won’t survive another 5 years of this cruelty. I can’t stress this enough.

We will be back next week for our annual Christmas Demo. I will be making a wreath unless I can get a volunteer to help me. I’m also needing to buy non alcoholic mince pies and other Christmas foods to hand out to the public.

We will also be handing out extra Christmas food parcels so if you need one please contact me so that I can save one for you. If you don’t it’s a first come first served basis.

Also please come and join us it’s at the same time 10-12 outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. Please come and say hello and maybe sing an appropriate Christmas Carol or two.

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.

Five year aniversary of blogging and the suffering continues.

Dear readers it’s been five years almost to the day since I started writing this blog although I’ve been campaigning for much longer.

A friend encouraged me to write it but I honestly didn’t think that anyone would read it. I was proved wrong though, it took off straight away.

Back then we were chosen to be a trial area for universal credit along with Oldham and Wigan.

Hardly anyone else was documenting the day to day cruelty that universal credit and the benefit reforms.Most likely because it wasn’t happening everywhere and lots of people weren’t aware of this

We were ignored and called liars and suchlike.

Myself and other groups continued to fight against it even though every door was being slammed in our faces. No one wanted to know.

Through perseverance and determination we continued, we weren’t letting this go. People were and are dying as a result and that was and is unacceptable.

DPAC have been consistently supportive and they’re amazing. The work that they have done and are doing is outstanding. I can’t thank them enough.

When I started this blog almost everyone that I spoke to outside Ashton Jobcentre was or had been sanctioned.

Pregnant women were being sanctioned for three years, suicides of people that we had spoken to were a constant worry. I’ve lost count of the people that we have lost.

It breaks my heart and I’ve always got them in my thoughts. Thanks to Black Triangle for their work collecting this info and publishing it.

At the the time the DWP were a law unto themselves, they still are. I’m certain that they were given orders to sanction as many people as possible (remember Sandra’s stars anyone?).

I’m certain that they still have these targets but they’re not so open and brazen at displaying them. People are still being sanctioned and it’s abbhorant that this is continuing to happen. Being sanctioned can and does kill people.

The suffering continues and every week I’m told yet more awful stories from claimants about their experiences whilst on universal credit and other benefits.

Today a man told me that he’d been barred from the Jobcentre for loosing his temper when he was told that he’d been sanctioned.

When he was allowed back into the Jobcentre he had a G4S guard to escort him to his appointment and to take him out again.

The stress of this took its toll on him and he started to pull his hair out. He can’t believe how horrible this system is. Thanks to the DWP he’s mentally scarred for life.

The system hasn’t got better the DWP and government have become more devious, constantly putting unrealistic demands upon people that they know won’t be able to keep up with it.

We’ve handed hundreds of food parcels out because people were and are literally starving. I’ve watched a family open the tins of food and eat it because they were so hungry.

It’s hard to tell you what the worst thing that I’ve seen is. Everything about this system is awful. It persecutes children, women, men, women who should be receiving their pensions but were conned out of them. The DWP won’t leave anyone alone.

The fight continues though. The Labour Party have at last commited to stopping, scrapping universal credit. They’re going to replace it with a caring system and I know that they’re going to do this. The Labour Party have been working very hard on creating the new system for quite a while now.

But the changes won’t happen overnight and until they’ve been elected nothing will change its going to become a whole lot worse.

Every week we speak to disabled people who have been found fit for work. They aren’t fit for work though and we help them to start the appeal process.

We’ve handed out thousands of copies of of our survival guides. They’ve proved to be invaluable and have helped a lot of people. Thanks to Roy for your help with this.

The blog doesn’t end after I’ve published the blog on Thursdays though. It’s become a full time job. Myself or members of the team don’t get paid by anyone either. We do it because we care.

The fight continues week after week. We’ve had abuse from G4S, I’ve been spat on called a scrounger and worse.

The DWP have unsuccessfully tried to move us from outside the Jobcentre. We aren’t going anywhere, we aren’t stopping until the suffering ends.

Whilst the suffering continues we will continue. I made this commitment all those years ago.

I want to thank you all for reading and supporting the blog for these last five years. Its been a massive comfort to know that you all support this blog and the campaign.

I’ll end the blog here this week. I know that it’s a bit different than my usual blog style but I really wanted to thank everyone that’s helped along the way whether it’s on foot at the demos or online. Both are equally as important.

To everyone that does come and help though thank you so, so much. We’ve had a lot of physical support from Stockport Against Austerity and I can’t thank them enough as well as Gordon, Roy, Carol and everyone else who I’ve met along the way.

My local Labour Party and my MP Angela Rayner have also been hugely supportive even though I’ve been a pain sometimes.

Can I ask you to continue to read, share, tweet and email my blog. Thank you to those that already do.

There’s also a donate button at the top and side of this blog. Every penny donated ensures that the campaign and blog can continue. A massive thanks to those that have.

I’ll be back next week with my usual blog. Thank you for the five years of support and thanks to Mike for persuading me to start this blog.

Don’t worry I’ll be writing next weeks blog in my usual style.

£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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