Tag: Lipstick Socialist

Debt collection agencies contracted to collect so called Universal Credit debt. Woman forced to attend appointment four days after giving birth. Welcome to Universal Credit hell.

Dear readers, its Thursday gain and I have just returned home from our weekly demo/ advice session. I’m knackered because I’m still recovering from my hospital stay and I’ve just had my flu jab. Thank you all for your good wishes, they have really cheered me up.

Please can I point out that everyone that we spoke to was given the help and advice appropriate to their needs and everyone that needed a food parcel was given one. We handed out five. Yes five in the space of two hours. Also everyone that needed to be signposted were signposted. I remarked to Roy that I felt like a member of staff working at Citizens Advice and the like.

It was busy from the get go so I will list everything as usual and will try not to complicate things.

The first person was a young man who has asked us for help today. He looked worried and was clutching two pieces of paper. I asked him if he was ok, he looked at me and said that he didn’t have a clue what this was about. He didn’t understand it.

I asked him if he had taken a Universal Credit advance? Because this is what they have stated in the letter. He said that he had applied for one but he was forced to move out of the property that he was living in so he didn’t sign the acceptance letter.

So he applied for an advance but didn’t receive it because he didn’t sign the return form. He didn’t receive the money and can provide bank statements to prove this.

So it appears that the DWP have presumed from the application that he has recieved the money and are now employing a debt collection agency to collect this money from him.

None of this adds up. The amounts don’t add up, the dates don’t add up and he stated that he didn’t owe this money in the first place.

This is a fine example of how incompetent the whole Universal Credit system is. Not one department talks to another, and instead of contacting this man or the relevant DWP first they just sent out a threatening debt collection letter. Not only are most people forced to claim Universal Credit constantly worried and anxious many it appears might also be facing a letter from a debt collection agency.

I also find this to be very intimidating. Many of my readers will already realise that most Universal Credit claimants are already in debt and letters like this could send a vulnerable person over the edge.

But do the DWP care? No, not one bit. Does the government care? No not a bit, infact they encourage this kind of treatment. They like to punish the most vulnerable for their poverty or disability, and I can tell you that this man has had a hard time of it already. Thank god we were there.

One question though, and its a rhetorical one. What the hell are the DWP doing employing a debt collection agency? And how much is that costing the tax payer, usually the poor tax payer at that? This man is still claiming Universal Credit and they could have contacted him but they didn’t.

We advised him and I phoned my local MPs office (Angela Rayner) and he is seeing a member of her staff tomorrow. We can only do so much and we are on the street, Angela’s staff will get to the bottom of this and find some answers for him. He is of a honest character and had no reason to lie about anything.

Anyway I’m disgusted. Unemployed people are often seen as the underclass, not deserving of anything and there is little sympathy for their situation. To echo this we were heckled by two people, possibly a third because I wasn’t sure of what they said.

Because we were stood outside a Jobcentre, helping people we were called scroungers and the like. For all of those working for the right wing media reading this, give yourself a tap on the back. It worked, your divide and conquer techniques worked. People like myself and those that help me are left to deal with the mess that you created. Be thankful that it wasn’t you… But it could be one day….

A man looking rather angry walked in and out of the Jobcentre on numerous occasions. We could see the frustration in his face and it was obvious that he didn’t want to talk to anyone, maybe he will next week. Just think what on earth could be making him feel this angry. They are the problem not him.

I spoke to a woman that was struggling to understand what was happening to her. English is her second language and Universal Credit is very complicated. How on earth is she supposed to understand it?

She showed me her letter of entitlement, she will be recieving £317 a month. Take rent top ups, gas, electric and other expenses out of that and she is left with very little to live on. Of course the government believe that this is acceptable because they are in the opinion that we are to blame for our own poverty. Meanwhile they couldn’t live off that amount of money, it probably wouldn’t last them half a day. We know how they like to live the high life at our expense.

Ryan the lovely young man came to say hello to us, I hugged him so tight and gave him all of your best wishes. He’s doing ok and he wants to say thank you for your best wishes. We had a good chat.

I spoke to a man that was working and claiming Universal Credit. He told me that he was working so classes himself as not claiming anything even though he is. The mind boggles. I handed him a leaflet anyway and wished him well.

I spoke to a young man that claims Universal credit and has been sanctioned. He told me that he had been arrested so couldn’t attend his signing on appointment. The DWP in their infinite wisdom decided that this isn’t a good enough excuse to miss your signing on appointment. Maybe the police should have marched him to the Jobcentre to sign on….. But they’ve got better things to do like solve crimes.

It’s not my place to judge him about his arrest but I can judge the DWPs decision as being completely unreasonable. What’s new eh….

I spoke to a young woman that is claiming Universal Credit. She told me that she’s never struggled as much in her life, that she’s never been as worse off as she is now. She can’t afford to buy presents for her children for birthdays and Christmas. She went on to say that shes reduced to tears, that she’s hungry and can’t see her way out. I had a long chat with her, handed her a food parcel and signposted her to relevant places.

I challenge anyone that believes that Universal Credit is a good thing, come and join us one week and look at this woman, look into her eyes, look how thin she is and then tell me that it’s a good thing.

I spoke to a young woman who arrived at the Jobcentre with her mother and newborn baby. Her baby is four days old, yes four days old. She was forced to attend an appointment so that she could hand her babies birth certificate to an andvisor so that she can claim the money for her baby. The DWP had refused to allow her mother to hand it in because they demanded her signature. She was struggling to walk, it had been a difficult birth. It’s obscene.

Last but not least. A person leaving the Jobcentre stopped me and asked to speak to me. This isn’t unusual by the way. They told me that they had witnessed a what looked like an elderly woman attend her appointment nearby. She was struggling to walk, and to be fair the first person that she spoke to was nice to her.

She struggled with the aide of others to attend her next appointment with another advisor, this time her treatment wasn’t as good. Questions were asked of her and lots of them.

“What’s wrong with you” she replied “I have heart failure”.

”Do you know WHY you have heart failure”………….

The questions continued, but my source was asked to leave the building so they didn’t hear them. Judging by her inability to do anything, standing was a struggle,it’s clear that she shouldn’t have been there.

As for asking her why she has heart failure…. Are DWP employees now medically trained? She’s got heart failure and clearly shouldn’t be there but is forced to be. There is not a job available that would suit her and no one would employ her because she has heart failure. JUST LEAVE HER ALONE.

Folks, this is a good example of how Universal Credit isn’t working for everyone. When claiming the ESA element of Universal Credit you still have to attend Jobcentre appointments. It’s obscene, and a very good reason why Universal Credit needs to be stopped and scrapped. it’s inhumane.

Just to be clear once again she was interviewed for a universal credit claim not ESA, but the element that replaces ESA.

Many thanks to everyone that came and helped today.

Many thanks to my readers and supporters of my blog, please like, share and RT my blog.

For anyone wishing to donate, there are donation buttons above and at the side. I do this off my own back and I’m not part of any big organisation. Every penny helps, thank you.

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Come back soon Charlotte. I’m worn out!

Dear readers, I’m extremely sorry that my blog is very late this week but I was admitted into hospital on Saturday because I was very ill. I was discharged yesterday but I’m still not feeling brilliant. The good news is that they found my brain, and due to a mixture of a rare brain condition and migraines I was totally unable to function. Hopefully all will be well now.

The good news is that this weeks demo still went ahead, with Roy, Gordon and Jints at the helm. Roy took notes throughout, and was very patient when I kept asking if everything was going ok. Roy then emailed the notes to me and these notes will form the basis of this weeks blog. So please excuse the change of style etc, it is what it is and I’m extremely grateful to the gang for keeping the demo and advice session going in my absence.

 

*Food parcels arrived with Gordon 10am. Two gone immediately. Sadly this isn’t unusual, we usually have a queue of people waiting for them. Universal Credit ensures that people are dependent upon them for survival.
* Two women started verbally violent row screaming at each other across Old St. Language totally unfit for before 9pm watershed.
*A woman arrived at the Jobcentre  seeking an envelope. She had moved to the area 18mo ago. She then had been forced to claim Universal Credit and has had hard time repaying the Universal Credit advance loans she took out to keep afloat.
*A  woman joined in conversation and said she’s had “endless” trouble with UC.
*A man arrived at the JC wearing just a  t-shirt and thin pants. . He said he couldn’t afford a coat. This on chilly damp day, raining infact. This happens a lot when the weather changes. People don’t have enough money to buy clothes etc, so are forced to continue to wear unsuitable clothing because they have nothing else to wear.
*Second message from Charlotte checking up on us. I make no apologies for this, I was missing being there and helping people but was too unwell to be there.
*A young  man arrived alone in a powered wheelchair struggling with doors which are very heavy to open even for an able bodied person. Many Jobcentres are just not disabled friendly in any shape or form, yet they deny people their ESA payments so they are then forced to have to use the unsuitable Jobcentres.
*Two  older ladies arrived wanting to use phone in the Jobcentre  to contact the  DWP. Of course this wasn’t permitted. They took the public telephones out years ago, so now people have to struggle trying to find a telephone to use, and struggle to pay for the phone call.
*We helped another woman trying to phone a relative to come and collect her. Her phone was flat so we lent her one of ours so she could telephone her relative.
*A heckler  described us as “bunch of nazis” and said we should wear National Socialist Party uniforms. We were too gobsmacked to respond. Sadly, people like this do like to shout abuse at us, even though the rubbish that they are spouting is complete rubbish and couldn’t be further than the truth.
*A young man we see regularly said this was one of the days when Jobcentre  staff were “not in the mood” meaning that he’d found them more unhelpful than usual.
*Food parcels all went and everyone that we spoke to was either signposted, advised etc and all were given one of our leaflets.
It is recurring theme that people will say “it’s okay I’m all right” and yet a little more chat reveals that they are not alright at all but struggling desperately, using all money up on fuel, travel, school uniform, debts etc etc
Come back soon Charlotte. I’m worn out!
Like I’ve said before this all happened in less than to hours and we spoke to more people than is documented here.
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Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog, and to my collegues. I couldnt do this without you.

 

Can’t cope with monthly Universal Credit payments… Tough. Haven’t recieved a payment for eight weeks. Universal credit strikes again.

Dear readers, yes its Thursday again and I have just returned home after our weekly demo and advice session outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, we have been doing this for over four years now and like I’ve mentioned before its getting worse and not better. Ignore the government they lie, almost every person that I’ve spoken to over the years have been set up to fail.

I’ll list today’s conversations and I apologise if the blog is short, lack of sleep and poor health has left me feeling fed up. Also I can’t stress how hard this time of the year is when you are poor and have children. Expensive school uniforms, school shoes. Stationary etc etc . It’s hard, it’s stressful and I feel it as well. My thoughts and solidarity are with you all.

Please note that everyone that we spoke to was offered a food parcel if they needed one and everyone recieved a copy of our leaflets. We try to help everyone and no one walks away without help.

I was greeted by a woman that told me she was struggling with her monthly Universal Credit payments. The money just doesn’t stretch far enough and she’s living in more poverty than she was previously. Not having the guarantee of a payment has quite literally made her ill .

 

I spoke to a man that had failed his ESA medical. He had appealed this decision, but the DWP upheld their decision so now hes taking his case to tribunal. Trying to keep his head above water is a full time job, one that he says he fails at times.

 

I spoke to a woman that we have been helping regularly for a while now. She grabbed hold of her food parcels, looked at me and smiled, saying that she might get a payment in a weeks time. Shes waited eight weeks now and it’s a miracle that shes coped for as long as she has done.

 

I handed a young lad a leaflet and I felt desperately sad for him. He’s at the start of his life and should be looking forward to his future, but he isn’t because the government won’t allow him to.

 

Today we noticed an increasing number of older women and men, it’s heartbreaking  to see them be forced into searching for non existent jobs and having to jump through ever increasing hurdles. For gawds sake, leave them alone. They are worn out, fed up and their bodies and minds need to rest.

 

A young man thanked me for a leaflet, perhaps the only bit of useful information that he had recieved today.

 

A man stormed out of the Jobcentre shouting ‘F***k off’ in the direction of the Jobcentre doors. He was visibly angry and frustrated. Poor fella if they just treated people with more understanding and compassion he wouldn’t feel like this in the first place.

 

We spoke to a woman that is claiming PIP at the moment. She’s very worried about her future move over to Universal Credit and quite rightly so. She knows that she’s going to have to go without the basics for a long while and she’s scared.

 

I noticed a man dashing into the Jobcentre clutching a piece of paper in his hand. He was staring at it intently, perhaps hoping that his situation would become better today. Sadly it wasn’t.

We spoke to an older man that we say hello to every week. He’s coping but only just. He shouted ‘Into the lions den’. Yes it literally feels like that.

 

We spoke to a woman and her support worker outside the Jobcentre. English is her second language and even her support worker was confused by the system. She enquired if her rent payments would be included in her first universal credit Payment. We confirmed this and we encouraged her to inform her landlord of her situation. This is so important because if you don’t landlords won’t have a clue what’s happening and an eviction process can be commenced.

 

We noticed a few more people going into the Jobcentre with their support workers. This is good because they are recieving some help, but they still neeed a leaflet and advice. Universal credit is so complicated, and purposely so and we like to help people.

 

I spoke to a man that was confused by his transfer over to Universal Credit. he told me that he didnt have a clue what was happening and was struggling.

 

I spoke to a man that struggles to use computers and technology. He’s dyslexic and can’t cope with it. He also doesn’t have a personal computer, and like he said he wouldn’t know how to use one if he did. So he’s stuck trying to cope with a system that fails to recognise his disability.

Last but not least, we spoke to a man of pensionable age. He told us that he was very confused with the new system and had been shocked to discover that he’s no longer entitled to free dental care etc. Visibly distressed he couldn’t understand why the system is like this.

But here’s the deal, the government purposely created this system purposely to punish the poorest and most vulnerable for their poverty, age, sex and any disability that they might have. Don’t expect any compassion from the government because there is none. We all need to fight for change because if we don’t we could be left to suffer like this for forever.

 

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Please read, share, tweet and email my blog we really need to get the word out that people are being forced to suffer like this.

Many thanks to all the readers and supporters of my blog. I couldn’t do this without you and the team for whom I’m eternally grateful.

 

There’s also a donate button above for anyone wishing to contribute. Thank you! It’s very hard work, especially when you aren’t well etc, but I plod on hoping that one day things will change.

Sanctions,ESA medical failures. The DWP system sets everyone up to fail.

Dear readers, today’s blog might be shorter than usual because I had to leave half a hour early. This was due to an appointment and I feel generally shitty. My friend suddenly died and his funeral hit me hard, so please try to understand that I’m trying my best.

Anyway, the weather has cooled down and autumn appears to be well and truly on the way, rainy and cold weather seems to be the way forward now. The colder weather causes so many problems for so many of us either health wise or monetary wise. Yes folks we are going to have to start paying an absolute fortune to stay warm again. Fantastic. Not.

 

Today started quietly but it soon picked up, when the weather is bad the town centre tends to be a bit quieter and to be honest not a lot of people have the money to go shopping all the time anymore. I’ll list everything as usual, it’s easier that way.

 

I spoke to a man who told me that he was working but still has to sign on. Yes when claiming Universal credit you do HAVE to sign on if you work less than full time hours. It’s ridiculous especially when finding a full time job is extremely hard. But they label such people as ‘under employed’ and stigmatised them for being such. Lovely.

 

I was met by a woman that I have been helping on a regular basis. She’s been told that she will receive her first Universal Credit payment in around two to three weeks. She was happy… But seriously, shes waited ages now and she has children to feed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no real reason as to why people are being forced to wait so long. The whole process could and should be a whole lot quicker than it is. But the government likes to make them suffer, what other reaso n could there be?

 

I spotted a woman walking into the Jobcentre, she looked totally done in, depressed, fed up and her body language was shouting ‘get me out of here’. She walked into the Jobcentre head down, not wanting to be noticed. I really hope that life starts to treat her better soon.

 

I spoke to a young woman who’s partner is grabbing any kind of agency work that he can find. Unfortunately because she’s not working and they claim universal Credit she still has to sign on.

She told me that she isn’t well, shes waiting for an operation to have her Gaul bladder removed and is in constant pain. Her advisor telephoned her to ask her to attend the Jobcentre at short notice. So she did. She rushed straight from her doctors appointment to the Jobcentre. Upon leaving she told me that the appointment could have been conducted on the telephone, and given her circumstances it should have been. But nope, drag her down to the Jobcentre when shes in agony appeared to be the better option for the DWP.

 

I spoke to a man who is recieving help from other agencies but still wanted to chat to us. His story is a tad complicated, they often are. With a complicated system comes complicated situations that are certainly not helped by their circumstances.

In essence he is appealing the decision to stop his ESA, and he has been waiting a long time. He’s hungry, flitting between services, trying to make the best of it but he has nothing. The system as ensured that his life is chaotic, complicated and unhappy.

He told us that the DWP are making his life harder everyday. He said “The Tory b******S more for them and less for us”. Spot on fella.

We gave him a food parcel and he tried to give us 50p. Of course we refused, he has nothing. Honestly those that have the least always try to give the most, of course there will be exceptions to this I know.

This government literally makes me feel sick with anger, you can bet that they wouldn’t hand over 50p to anyone..

 

I quickly spoke to a woman who was being pushed in a wheelchair, she was leaving the building. I asked her if she was ok and that I hoped that she was recieving some support. She told me that she wasn’t in receipt of any DWP payments and was waiting her first payment, that the DWP had ruined her life and why can’t they just leave her alone.

I totally agree, it shouldn’t be like this, everyone and I repeat everyone has the right to shelter, food, water and clothing. Someone had better remind the government of this, but hang on they already know and don’t care.

 

Sorry the blog is short, it’ll be back to normal next week. Everyone that we spoke to (including those that I haven’t mentioned in this blog) recieved help, support, guidance, signposting, one of our leaflets and a food parcel if needed. I wish that we didnt need to do this but we do, so as usual we will return next week to help people.

 

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Sanctioned for a year for having a voluntary job. Working 25 hours and facing a possible sanction. Universal Credit strikes again.

Dear readers, today was busy, a morning filled with problems caused by the DWP’s inability to communicate with people correctly and their neglect of using any common sense and sympathy towards claimants. I hate using the word claimant, that in itself is degrading but its the most effective way of describing a persons situation.

We were met with a great variety of problems, ranging from Universal credit problems, JSA problems, housing problems etc etc. Thankfully we have a good knowledge of how to help, but its worth remembering that if someone has a problem created by the DWP they are likely, as a result of this to have more problems elsewhere. Everything snowballs onto them as a result and before they know it it feels like everything is out of their control. Many people then go  into hibernation because the reality of their situation is too hard to cope  with. I totally understand this feeling, I’ve been there and most likely will be there myself in the future.

Las week I recieved a complaint via Twitter, they expressed the opinion that they didn’t like how I describe people. I describe people in the way that I do because I like to keep their anonymity out of respect. Many are scared of repercussions from the DWP and I like to protect them as much as possible. Regular readers will of course understand this. I won’t apologise though and why should I?

Today we were joined by a local Labour Party councillor who joins us whenever he is able to. I’d like to say thank you because this support means so much to us. A massive thanks to Gordon, Roy and Chris for helping. I’d be lost without you all. It’s hard work, and anyone attending our demo will attest to that.

 

The first woman that I spoke to today stopped me as soon as I arrived and asked me for a leaflet. Of course I obliged and she went on to tell me her story. She claims Universal Credit and has done for a long while now.

When she was transferred over to Universal Credit she was already volunteering for a charity, a charity that she had chosen and she enjoyed her work there. I’m a great believer that all voluntary work should be voluntary and NOT enforced by the DWP.

She enjoyed it there and didn’t want to give up her position, however the DWP wern’t happy and enforced a year long sanction. Having no income she was then forced to volunteer for a position of their choosing and she is still there now. She told me that she now owes money as a result of this sanction because she got into debt trying to survive. She really didn’t know about her right to appal etc. So now she’s left to survive on £45 a month because she has to pay her debts off.

Really. How on earth can anyone be expected to survive on £45 a month. Tory party officials spend near enough that amount on a breakfast. But shes’s expected to survive on that amount for a month.

She told me she survives on the goodwill of friends and foodbanks. This is no quality of life, shes mearly existing and not living. This shouldn’t be happening but it is and we all should be outraged.

 

We spoke to a young man who had been through the care system and basically left to his own devices at the age of 17. Young people need guidance and support, not neglect. He told us that all he wanted was a permanent home and proper support. Sadly the government has stripped funding away from care leavers and many end up homeless as a result. It’s heartbreaking but his situation isn’t unusual.

 

We spoke to a man that lives in privately rented accomodation. He made the mistake of visiting family for a week and someone had informed his landlord that he had left the property. He arrived home and his locks had been changed with no notification. He’s trying to sort this out and has managed to get back inside the property.

 

I spoke to a man who was overjoyed with his food parcel. He told me that he could eat some decent food for a change. He was a joy to listen to. he’s trying to make a new start. No one should be denied access to decent food but they are. The government should be ashamed but they are the opposite and are very happy with people being forced to live off food from foodbanks. It takes the onus off themselves to feed people. Without foodbanks people would starve to death. We need to continue to oppose the very need and causes for foodbank usage.

 

I spoke to a working man. He claims Universal Credit and at the moment works 25 hours a week. Of  course the DWP regard this as not being enough and he is under employed by their standards. They really don’t take into account the lack of decent jobs with decent hours and not zero hour contract jobs. People need stability of income to pay rent, bills etc.

Today he went to sign a tenancy agreement for a new place to live, he thought that he would be finished in time for his signing on appointment but he wasn’t and he was 15 minutes late. he was told that he wouldn’t be seen and that he had to phone for another appointment. He tried phoning but to no avail, outside the Jobcentre. He then went back inside and asked for help again. Luckily he was given another appointment but he is still in limbo as to if he is going to be sanctioned because they never tell you straight away.

So he’s working, and in fear of a sanction. How on earth can this encourage people to work? It does the opposite and I hope that he doesn’t get sanctioned because he has a new tenancy to keep up.

 

I spoke to a man that told me that this was his first time signing on for 40 years and he could neither understand the system nor manage under it. They expect everyone to be able to work a computer, have access to a computer and to understand the complexities of the system. Most of the people that I speak to don’t and haven’t a clue how to manage. Of course the government are aware of this and are simply lying when they state that they need evidence of this so that they can change the system.

1. They already have knowledge

2. They don’t want to change the system because it works for them.

 

I spoke to a lady that came out of the Jobcentre crying. She had to travel miles on very unreliable public transport to attend her Jobcentre appointment. She got lost and was visibly upset, crying. She told me that she was late and was scared that she would be sanctioned. She had only recieved two Universal Credit payments so far and doesn’t wanted go without money again.

I reassured her and I hope that her advisor was sympathetic. She was lucky in the fact that she managed to speak to them even though they told her that she would be sent an appointment for June. Now she’s living in limbo, not knowing if she will receive a payment. That feeling is horrible and I really hope that she does.

 

I spoke to a man that had recently had a job interview. He had taken along a copy of his birth certificate, but this wasn’t good enough. They want an original copy before he can start employment.. He now has to pay for that and hope that the job will still be available to him.

 

We noticed a lot of older people forced to use the Jobcentre. This breaks my heart, it’s  an awful system and many can’t cope with the system.

 

We spoke to a representative of a woman who was late for her appointment due to her bus not turning up. This happens a lot, especially in the rural areas that Ashton Jobcentre now covers. It’s too far to walk so they have to rely on expensive unreliable buses. Jeremy Corbyn was right to talk about this, it’s an important issue for many of us.

 

I spoke to a man that had been disallowed his ESA. I explained the appeal process etc and handed him a survival guide. they don’t make it clear how to appeal any decision.

 

I spoke to a man claiming Universal Credit as a couple with a new baby. They are now in fear of being sanctioned because they hadn’t attended an appointment that they didn’t receive a letter for.  They have three children, a new baby and his partner is ill.

I advised him of what to do and how to appeal and signposted him. He must be under so much stress at the moment and he should not be going through this. In effect the DWP are very willing to take food out of new born babies mouths. Honestly if they stated outright that they were going to do this there would be outrage, but they do it slyly trying to demonise the family involved.

We have a government that have knowingly created a purposely complicated system that has been designed to put people off from claiming. The system is so complicated it baffles claimants, it also baffles officials from other organisations. But it’s designed to do so and whilst this system exists people will continue to suffer, and die in many cases and this isn’t acceptable. It’s never acceptable.

 

A massive thank you to everyone that supports, shares and talks about my work. Many thanks to my friends on social media, my friends in real life so speak and to everyone that listens. Carry on with the good work and thank you it is appreciated.

 

I just do my best, it’s hard and I struggle but we have to continue to fight the system.

Thank you.

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DWP advisor, I take tablets and I can work so you can too. Doctors refusing to issue sicknotes after recieving a letter from the DWP. This weeks blog.

Dear readers, today didn’t start too well. I had been unwell all night so ended up being awake for most of it listening to podcasts, but no fear I arrived at our weekly demo as usual. For anyone disputing my dedication to the cause I’d like to dispute their claims. As well as helping people, we raise awareness and I work very hard on this, its near enough a full time job.

Anyway enough about me, let’s talk about the important stuff, the people that are suffering at the hands of a cruel, uncaring government. For those thinking that the government actually does care, you are sadly mistaken. Years of experience tells me that they don’t have a caring bone in their bodies. It’s simply about persecuting the poor in as many ways as is possible.  Below are a few examples.

 

The first man that I spoke to is a victim of agency work and Universal Credit. Universal Credit really doesn’t work for anyone, especially people in temporary employment, it does the opposite. It places them in a state of perpetual poverty, depending on food parcels and the kindness of local organisations and friends. To say that it helps people back into work is a massive lie and of course the government knows this.

I had a conversation with him as I do most weeks, and I find it very worrying seeing him loosing weight. I handed him a food parcel but I will be helping him more also.

 

I spoke to an older man who told me that he had never been unemployed, he had always worked he told me. Sadly he has been made redundant and he can’t find a job. Not many employers will employ older people and no matter how many of these farcical courses that the DWP will put him on won’t change this fact.

As I chatted to him, it came to light that he hadn’t been advised about much, including his job search etc, so I advised him and handed him a survival guide. He thanked me because I had most likely saved him a lot of hassle. The system is extremely complicated and people are expected just to know what to do. Of course that’s impossible and anyone tackling the system will tell you this. I know of a couple of good advisors inside the Jobcentre and it was obvious that he didn’t have one of them.

 

I spoke to another older man who had arrived ten minutes early, only to be turned away and told to return in five minutes. Now it was early and the Jobcentre wasn’t busy, far from it. It’s an exercise in keeping people on their toes and enabling them to feel demoralised, and it’s working isn’t it.

 

A man walked out of the Jobcentre saying that they are ‘horrible in there’. Yep.

 

I spoke to a woman who had been late handing their sicknote in because of their illness. No concessions are made so her payments stopped immediately. She has now handed a new sicknote in and has to wait for her payments to be reinstated. They don’t take illness into account apparently, and there’s no lienance at all. The government are quite happy making an ill person hungry. Luckily we handed a food parcel over to her so she could eat.

 

We spoke to a lovely man who has a long term injury. He had failed his ESA medical and had tried to put in a mandatory reconsideration, which as usual was refused. He didnt have the energy to appeal but after a chat he’s now going to do so. We also advised him to claim PIP.  He hadn’t been told that he could do this.

 

A man walked past and said ‘I like what you are doing’ And another walked past and whispered in my ear that ‘You are doing a good job’. Thank you! We try!

 

I spoke to a disabled, homeless man, he is getting help from other organisations but he wanted to chat. His issues are complex, but he’s hoping to get housed soon once he’s paid his rent arrears off. There’s no escape from debt these days for anyone.

I can’t imagine how awful it must be to be disabled and homeless. He told me of his time on the streets of Manchester, trying to survive. No one should be forced to live like this rent arrears or not. This cruel system forces people to become in debt withy almost everyone.

 

I spoke to a couple living in temporary accomodation locally. They are grateful for it, but it’s still hard for them. The rent for the temporary accomodation is £310 a week. Luckily they don’t have to pay this but it’s a struggle living there because their flat is upstairs and they have to carry their pram up and down the stairs all the time.

 

I spoke to a man who had lost his case at an employment tribunal. I do think that his loosing the case is unfair, but he accessed legal advice too late. Poor fella is upset about this as would I be. Believe me there are some dodgy employers out there, but I am aware also that there are many good ones also.

 

I spoke to a man who had previously been working a 60 hour week but had lost his job. Luckily he had found employment  but his contract is only 15 hours a week, so now he is at the mercy of Universal Credit. He really didn’t know where to start, and he hadn’t been advised about much. We helped him etc. He thanked us.

Why on earth can’t the large companies employ more people on a full time basis? Tax reasons most likely. I remember the good old days of guaranteed, contracted full time work and I wish that we still had that.

 

I spoke to a young man who told me that if it wasn’t for his young daughter he would have taken his own life by now. He told me that he struggles to cope with the system and I totally agree. The system is cruel, relentless and made him feel so bad that he no longer wanted to be here anymore. Thank goodness he is.

 

I referred a woman to see our local MP. The DWP are giving her the run around and she has tried other organisations. It appears that the DWP havent a clue what they are doing sometimes, well a lot of the time. I hope that she seeks advice.

 

We spoke to a man who is educucated to degree level. He is now disabled with a condition that won’t be getting any better and he can’t find any employment anymore.  He’s a broken man, not knowing where to turn, so we helped him. It’s a shame that the government refuses to isn’t it.

 

We spoke to an older man who had been sanctioned for a month for being late. This was his first time being late, and he wasn’t given a chance. Typical. I asked him how he managed and he told me that he had to rely on family members, and thank god he has them he said.

 

I spoke to a woman that is waiting for her Universal Credit claim to be processed. Shes very worried about her council tax so I advised her etc. Everyone that I speak to is worried about something. it shouldnt be this way.

 

We spoke to an older chap who is two years away from recieving his pension. He went to his doctor and asked for a sick note because he needed one for his claim. His GP refused to issue a sicknote upon advice from the DWP.  So now he’s left at the mercy of the DWP

Now I know that most GPs will ignore these requests from the DWP, but some won’t. I find it abhorrent that some do take advice from the DWP rather than their patient. Of course the government allows this but it shouldnt be doing it in the first place. They have a duty of care towards their patent not the DWP. Sort it out, your patients WILL be suffering as a result. Massive respect to the many GPS that ignore these letters.

 

Today was busy, even though it started slow. We were joined by a journalist from a french online newspaper, so it will be interesting to read her write up. She was very nice though, thank you for coming along.

 

It was also lovely to see more people turn up to help today. I realise that everyone has their own commitments, but I want to thank you for the sacrifice that you have all made today to help others.

Massive thanks to my friends for helping me out with my daughter today and last week. She had a fantastic time.

Today we handed out food parcels, survival guides, help, advice, compassion, solidarity and signposting. I found it hard today, but hopefully I’m feeling better next week. Keep strong everyone, one day we might have a better future and I pray for that.

 

I also want to pay my respects to our friend Steve who recently passed away, and who’s funeral I attended on Tuesday. Steve worked for Welfare rights, but also had helped to set up many organisations to help people. He was an amazing chap who taught me much of what I know. We miss you Steve.

 

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Two weeks away from being employed after volunteering… Told to stop volunteering there and start at a new place.. DWP hypocrisy at it’s best and worst.

Sorry this weeks blog is a bit late, all will be explained. I’ll start with the weather, sunny but chilly. There always seems to be a cold wind emanating from inside Ashton Jobcentre….

We were joined by our friend Kevin from DPAC, who had surprised me with a visit. I was over the moon, and so glad that he came along. There was only three of us there today because Roy wasn’t well. Get well soon Roy!!!

Anyway today was quite busy, some new faces and lots of differing problems, all of which could have been avoided if it wasn’t for the hypocrisy of the DWP and the cruel system that it operates. I’ll list the problems as usual, but everyone will remain anonymous due to the very real fear of DWP reprisals.

The first person that I spoke to was a man who had a chest infection. He told me that he was too scared of not attending his appointment because he didn’t want to be sanctioned again. I informed him that he is allowed to hand a sicknote in but he told me that it wasn’t worth the risk, and he had already had enough bother off the Jobcentre and he wanted a quiet life. So instead he forced himself to his appointment even though he wasn’t well enough to do so. Yes the DWP really do rule with fear.

I spoke to another man who told me that he hadn’t been told that he’s claim is being shifted over to Universal Credit, and had only just found out. I informed him of his legal rights, signposted him to where he can get further information so that he can empower himself. This is essential to prevent any wrongdoings by the DWP. He promised that he would be doing this and he was thankful that I had spoken to him, and he walked away less worried than he had arrived. it’s a mess and the DWP know it. They really need to start informing people correctly about the changes coming to them, and in plenty of time, not when it is nearly upon them like a thunder cloud.

I spoke to a lovely woman who I spoke to last week. I wish that I could say that she was in a better financial and emotional state but she isn’t. She’s afraid that she might loose her home and is also hungry. I gave her a food parcel and really urged her to contact local services that can and will help her. She also has my telephone number and knows that she can phone me at any time.

Some people think that it’s easy to signpost people, and that they should access the services offered straight away but it isn’t. When you’ve had a pretty c***p life, been treated badly and have nothing many people learn to trust only familiar faces. I totally understand this and will help her to build her confidence up so that she is able to do this. But in a decent world she wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place would she.

Then we had another regular heckler approach us, he appeared to be in a bad mood.  He approached Gordon and proceeded to tell us that all the problems that we are having in this country are caused by ‘all the foreigners being let in…. And foreign aid’’. Gordon tried to talk reasonably and kindly to him but he wasn’t having this, so proceeded to shout to us all that were all ‘talking rubbish’. He then walked off, looking dissatisfied that we hadn’t given him the response that he wanted, whatever that might have been.

They never give up do they, spouting their racist, ill informed lies. I had a day of it myself on twitter yesterday (Wednesday) when local elected Tories decided that they’d have a go at me and what seemed to be half the FLA tweeting me. This shows that we have a lot of work to be done in this area doesn’t it.

I spoke to a young man who is a carer for his grandmother. He just wanted someone to talk to, have a chat because seeing his grandmother become ill has upset him a lot. We had a good chat and I signposted him to local and national groups that he can join for support.

I spoke to a man who I regularly speak to, he has very limited vision and is registered blind. His partner is dyslexic and also struggles reading. Despite more than a few letters of support to the DWP and their advisor at the Jobcentre they are still being sent written letters for appointments etc, and are asked to respond to them. How hard is it for the DWP to recognise that they can’t SEE the writing, and can’t READ them correctly either. All appointments etc have to be made via a telephone call, but this rarely happens.

Honestly they set disabled people up to fail constantly and it’s a good job that people like myself and their friends can read the letters for them. Just STOP discriminating against them please DWP and treat them like the decent human beings that they are. It’s not hard is it.

I spoke to a woman who has been volunteering at a placement for a while now. Her placement were so impressed with her work that they have offered her employment, but she has to wait a fortnight to start her job. In the meanwhile she has to continue volunteering.

She was over the moon about this, because it hasn’t been easy for her and she told her advisor. Her advisor then told her that she had to finish her placement there, even though she is starting work in a fortnight and start somewhere else.

This means that she will loose her job offer, and she’s depending on this job, like she said to me ‘It’s a massive achievement and I thought that my life would change for the better’

What exactly is the DWP playing at? She’s found a job yet they are actively preventing her from starting her job. Complete madness, their slogan ‘Making work pay’ is total hypocrisy, it’s madness.  Honestly you couldn’t make it up.

I signposted her straight away and told her of what she can do to prevent this happening.

I spoke to a man in passing and he told me that the Jobcentre is ‘Bloody pathetic and that they should change their name’. Yep.

I spoke to a person who will remain totally anonymous. They suffer from several disabilities and illnesses and to say that their struggle to survive every day is an understatement.

They had failed their ESA medical because they were too ill to attend it. No one had told them that they could remake an appointment or appeal against this decision. Letters from the DWP now scare them, so much so that they can now  cause a panic attack, their ESA element has now been stopped and they are living on the bare minimum, just buying food and not paying bills.

They started to cry, and told me that they didn’t know what to do. This system is cruel, heartless especially to the disabled, and this makes me both upset and angry.

I did what was the DWP should have done in the first place, which is basically their job in the ‘good old days’. I told them that they can appeal, that they should appeal and informed them of all the local help available etc. I’m very confident that after a good long chat today that they are feeling a bit better and will start the process of appealing.

I asked a young man how things were going and his response was ‘They are f****g idiots’ pointing to the Jobcentre. Obviously something wasn’t right but he wouldn’t elaborate and to be honest I can’t blame him. He probably wanted to get away as fast as possible.

I spoke to an older couple who are both trying to navigate the system. They have read our survival guide and now keep a good filing system and a good, written record. The man looked at me and said ‘I really thought that they would find me a job, I was wrong’ They both deserve so much better treatment than this, everyone does.

I spoke to a woman who has been trying to get a HC1 form from the front desk for what she said ‘ages now’. They had previously refused to give her a form. Today, like magic she was given her form at last. She told us that it was because we were standing there, and it wasn’t the awful G4S guard this time.

Polite reminder to G4S… You are SECURITY GUARDS, employed to do that only, and you are not employed to take personal details or hand forms out to people. STOP IT you are actually breaking the law.

I spoke to a person who has now been waiting 9 weeks for their ‘Limited Capability Assesment’ as part of their Universal Credit claim. Despite having a recent ESA assement, being transferred to Universal Credit has made this assessment null and void. So now a disabled person has been waiting for 9 weeks to have an assessment by the same company that did the original ESA assessment.

Nine weeks living on a bare minimum income, which doesn’t provide for their disability needs. Nine weeks. I hate Universal Credit, it’s abhorrent that disabled, vulnerable people are treated in this manner. It’s almost as if they are trying to starve people into submission or death, and in many cases this has worked.

I advised them etc, but this system makes me feel sick. Theresa May you should be ashamed (but you aren’t). The system is serving you very well isn’t it. Remember that this won’t last forever.

After the demo, I went for a cuppa with Kevin who had travelled miles to be with us, then I collected my daughter from school. Sats are now finished yippee!!!!

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