Insulin dependant lady fails ESA medical relying on foodbanks, wheelchair bound homeless man forced to live in rat infested hostel, missing gateway codes, welcome to Tory Britain.

Well today’s demo was busy. I was greeted by John as I arrived at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, he was very early today and that cheered me up immensely. Very soon after John’s arrival Gordon arrived with the food parcels and they more or less left as soon as they arrived. it’s an awful sign of the times when this happens and the cold weather certainly does not help. Everyone agrees that winter does feel never ending this year.

I have been pondering on how I should write this weeks blog, and I have decided that I shall list the accounts of what happened today. Please note that no one in need left without adequate help, support, signposting and when needed a food parcel. So here goes.

 

The First Lady that I spoke to stopped for only a moment. She told me that she had failed her ESA medical because the DWP had lost her form. Unbelievable isn’t it. Well sadly this isn’t unusual, she was given advice on how to appeal, where to get help doing so and was given a food parcel. She wasn’t given any help from the Jobcentre just a sheet of paper with a telephone number on it. Thank goodness we were there to help her.

 

I spoke to a man who was working but because his income is very limited he couldn’t afford to buy any food shopping. I advised him and handed him a food parcel, he was relieved that he had someone to talk to that understood and that he wasn’t on his own.

A woman stopped me to tell me that the DWP had lost her sick note, she was devestated and is trying everything that she can to sort this out. I advised her on what to do and handed her a leaflet. Gordon had a chat with her also. She will be ok, but shes a vulnerable person and she shouldn’t be forced to pay financially for the DWPS mistake.

We spoke to a young woman who was wearing totally unsuitable clothes for the cold weather. She appeared to be confused and told me that she had just found out that she is pregnant. We advised her, gave her a leaflet and food parcel and also signposted her to a local organisation where she can get a hot meal and get some solidarity. She appeared happy with that and hopefully things will get better for her.

I noted today that there was more people being turned away from attending their appointment for being ‘too early’. Being early counts as being 10 minutes early. The Jobcentre should remember that if a person were to attend a job interview then it is good practice to arrive 10 minutes early, and afterall they are supposed to be preparing people to return to work. It’s also flaming cold outside and a bit of compassion wouldn’t go amiss would it. It wasn’t overly busy either. I suspect that this is really all about control, afterall all claimants need to be constantly reminded to who is their real boss don’t they, the DWP are in total control of their life’s. it’s awful and soul destroying.

A young couple rushed out, they didn’t want to speak and they looked annoyed. I asked them if they were ok (daft question really) and the young woman told me “They are all pi** takers in there aren’t they”. Sorry I can’t elaborate more on that but they wern’t hanging around.

 

We spoke to an older lady who is insulin dependent. She has to take insulin several times a day and also eat decent food at regular intervals throughout the day. She had attended her ESA medical and had failed, so with the help of welfare rights is now taking her case to a tribunal. She is understandably worried about this because she needs to eat.

This lady is also a WASPI lady, who should be by rights receiving her state pension. Because the government wrongly changed the goalposts regarding this she can’t and is now at the mercy of a system that cares nothing for her at all. Roy quite rightly stated that she has been dropped off the cliff edge with her safety net being thrown away. She is still in shock that the government would treat her like this. We gave her advice, a leaflet and showed her compassion and solidarity, this did mean the world to her.

 

I spoke to two homeless men that are at the moment living in an area that isn’t in Tameside, but not too far away, a place called Openshaw. I recognised them both when I saw them because they had both been street homeless in Manchester and I had spoken to them both. One of these men is a wheelchair user.

They told me about the terrible living conditions that they are being forced to endure. They are living in temporary accommodation in a hostel. Whilst they are living there they have to pay a top up amount and they are supposed to get a breakfast every day. The landlord is refusing to feed them, there’s water leaking everywhere and they told me that the place is overrun by rats and mice. They hate it there, but it’s either there or the streets and it’s too cold to be out on the streets.

There has also been a mix up with their money and they are scared that they are going to be thrown out because they can’t afford to pay the top up and they are scared. I had a good chat with them, and I signposted them to a local organisation that might be able to help them with their situation and I also advised them of where to go for help with their payments.

Life is awful for them, hellish infact and it’s the same for thousands of homeless folk up and down the country. From what I have been hearing there needs to be far more stringent regulations put into place regarding these hostels. There are some awful ones out there, it seems that it goes from one extreme to another, from excellent accomodation where residents are given full support and the other end of the spectrum where the landlord just collects the rent and doesn’t want to have anything to do with the care of the vulnerable people living in them. This needs sorting out asap as a matter of urgency.

 

We spoke to a woman that isn’t entitled to claim contribution based JSA because she hadn’t worked in the previous year. She lives with her partner and he works more than 24 hours a week, therefore she is at the mercy of him for any money at all. She told me that she gets money to go for milk and the odd tenner every now and then. She doesn’t have a life, no independence and it’s eating her up inside. She told us that she had worked all her life, since she was 18 without a break except for last year. She’s paid into a system that refuses to help her in her time of need and it’s rotten. She told me that it’s a good job that her partner is a nice fella or it could be much worse. I agreed, I know women and some men who are trapped at home with an abusive partner because of rulings like this. This government cares nothing for victims of domestic abuse, infact by its own rulings it appears to encourage it. Shame on them.

There was nothing that we could do except offer her advice and sympathy, She thanked us for our kind words.

 

We spoke to a lady who was very upset as she was leaving the Jobcentre. She had been working previously and was working through her probational period at work. On her last day of probationary work, just before she was about to sign her contract for a permanent job she had a heart attack at work. The company refused her a job and she had to spend a long period of time in hospital.

Upon leaving hospital she claimed ESA and was put in the work related category. She wasn’t happy about this but didn’t know how to navigate the system. Because she was put in the work related category she was given a gateway code that she had to give to the DWP upon phoning them, logging on for work searches etc.

She told us that her code didn’t work, they told her on the telephone that she must find the correct one and she was going round in circles. They obviously haven’t been watching or reading the news because if they had been they would have known that the official policy for a situation like this is to help the person in need. They refused. In desperation she walked into the Jobcentre and luckily she spoke to a nice advisor (I know who you are but won’t name incase of repercussions but thank you) and they offered to help her, and to telephone her within three hours.

She is also telephoning our MPS office, and has hopefully visited the local organisation that we referred her to for some food and a nice hot cuppa. We had ran out of food parcels but I know that if she has gone to see them then they would help her.

She told us that she had 83p left to her name, she had nothing else. She had always worked and this is the first time that she has claimed any type of benefit except working tax credits when her children were younger.

This can happen to anyone folks, a sudden illness, a loss of a job, a berevement or a bit of bad luck can put anyone in this situation. There is an old saying, and I say it often ‘but by the grace of god go I’. Never take anything for granted we can’t because it could happen to anyone at any time.

 

Today was busy even though the town centre appeared quiet today. I know that there are a lot of people that are ill at the moment, my daughter included so get well folks I’m thinking of you all.

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Many thanks to everyone who attended today. Numbers might have been low but spirits, compassion and solidarity were high. We will return again next week and the week after etc etc. Come and join us we would love to see you!

 

 

Please share, tweet, email and talk about this blog. If we don’t continue to get these issues into conversation and the public arena this will never change. For everyone that already does, thank you and thank you to everyone that supports my blog and work.

Please donate towards the work that I do, it’s not easy and I live on a very low income and I receive no funding at all. Every penny does help thank you.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Steve if you are reading this get well soon!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was cold and busy today outside the Jobcentre.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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Pregnant and sanctioned just in time for christmas… Sanctioned and frozen to death….The latest news from Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Today was our usual demonstration day. The wind was howling and the rain and hail was pouring down. We were cold but we turn up every week. We will not let the victims of the Job centre down. Whilst handing leaflets out a lady that had said hello to us on previous occasions came running out of the Job Centre. She was upset, crying, she screamed “Why does this place treat you like this?” She is pregnant and has been put on the terrible universal credit scheme. A scheme which really knows how to make anyone suffer. She had fulfilled all her job search requirements. But when she turned up at the Job Centre to sign on they said that she hadn’t turned up for an interview that she never received a letter for. They couldn’t or most likely wouldn’t show her a copy of this letter… that’s if it even existed in the first place. They refused to give her a hardship form which they are legally obliged to do. She had spent all of her phone credit on phoning for jobs which she didn’t have a chance of getting because she is pregnant. The police happened to turn up for our demonstration… they turn up every week…. they are on our side… they went into the Job Centre to get her a hardship form… and they refused them as well. Ashton Under Lyne Job Centre really do think that they are not answerable to anyone. We hope to see her next week.

After talking to this lady I was stopped by a homeless chap who wanted to congratulate us on our hard work. He said that he hated this Job Centre. His friend who lived on the streets with him had been sanctioned after being taken off the sickness benefits that he was on and was put on Job seekers Allowance. He had severe mental health and addiction problems. He was sanctioned, and without warm clothes and very little food he fell asleep on the streets and never woke up. He died of hypothermia. People had passed him and thought that he was asleep. He didn’t stand a chance. And what do the Job Centre staff say? “We are only following orders.” Most don’t feel any guilt or remorse. And we know that this government doesn’t either.

We are holding a memorial service outside Ashton Under Lyne Job Centre next Thursday. We will be laying a wreath and we are desperately in need of funds to do so. We ill be doing this in memory of every person that has died as a result of this governments war against the poor. We wont forget them. Please come, bring a flower, bring some words to say but more importantly bring yourself.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…. It does.

The government in its war against the poor has now decided that it will withdraw funds towards local welfare assistance funds. In my area it’s known as the Tameside support for independent living. They say in shorthand terms that they want to withdraw these funds from local authorities. Let me explain what exactly this is and what exactly it means.
People who live depending on the uks social security scheme do not receive enough money to save or budget for unexpected or one-off expenditures. As a result for many years additional public funds have been made available for these.
In 2013 the discretionary social fund which performed this task for many years was “localised” and as a result responsibility for community care grants and crisis loans was given directly to the local authorities.
This money is used to cover the costs or to provide directly essentials such as beds and cookers for people leaving institutions or fleeing domestic violence. It provides goods for disabled people to help with independent living. It enabled families to replace broken white goods and essential furniture. It enables vulnerable people to afford food and heating. It was funded by the dwp….
Basically to condense this the government are now saying that as from next year they want the local authorities to pay for this out of their rapidly dissapearing budgets.
They cannot afford to do this. Indeed some councils have already disabled their schemes and others have said they cannot continue do this from their general funds.
How are people going to manage? They aren’t. Local authorities can’t keep up with the demand. People will starve, commit suicide and the most vulnerable of society will suffer greatly.
I sit here sometimes and think is it only a few of us that are willing to raise our voices? We have got to stop this total war against the poor. In my eyes this government are getting away with murder and will continue to do so.
This service is a lifeline to thousands and thousands of people a year.
When are people going to say enough is enough?
Please share this far and wide… This government is once again getting away with murder and we need to stop them.

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