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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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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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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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Man sanctioned for a missed appointment last year.. That he didn’t receive. Inappropriate questioning by advisor. Don’t go to hospital, attend your appointment instead. Welcome to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Hello readers, and thank you for reading my blog. It always feels like Thursday comes round very quickly, and because Thursday mornings are usually very busy outside the Jobcentre thats entirely appropriate.

I’ll start with the weather, freezing cold, although not quite as cold as some other weeks and it wasn’t raining, brilliant that made a change both for us and the people having to use the Jobcentre. There’s nothing worse than being wet and cold and not having the ability to dry off.

I arrived at the Jobcentre and was almost immediately met by a lovely lady by the name of Vicky. She had travelled all the way from Salford, which is quite a distance away with some extra food parcels containing goodies such as fruit, UHT milk, margarine etc. Believe me when you have nothing these essentials become luxuries and you treasure them. Vicky was so lovely and chatted with everyone and made everyone wanting help feel at ease. Thank you Vicky so much.

I was then joined by Gordon with the food parcels, and later on Roy, who still isn’t feeling brilliant but he still came along to help people. We are all very dedicated and thank you roy.

 

The first person to ask for help was a woman and man whom I have mentioned in the previous blog. They are now getting support from a local organisation, and they are really benefiting from that, however they have now encountered another obstacle which has once again left them without money. She requested milk, and a food parcel, so we gave her both and she told me that she would keep in touch to keep me updated about their situation. The good news is that Shelter have helped her with a solicitor and the local organisation are also providing support. But even though the work that we all do is fantastic and is much needed, it shouldn’t distract from the fact that this should never have happened in the first place. I’m a great believer in social housing, and that everyone in need should have access to it. If we had adequate social housing then this would never have happened.

 

I spoke to a young man whom was shy to talk at first. I know how he feels, I would be also, but after some kind words from both myself and Vicky he opened up and told us his situation. His situation is this, he went to check his bank for his payment over Christmas and there was noting there, his bank account was empty. He managed to contact the DWP and they told him that they had decided to sanction him because they said that he had missed an appointment the PREVIOUS year. Yes folks, a year ago. He was adamant that he didnt miss an appointment, and I believe him. Why do I believe him? Because this happens a lot, far too often, and anyone who helps people like I do will tell you the same. It’s almost as if they have a sick and twisted lottery going on at DWP HQ, where they choose a person to be targeted like this. Being a young, single male with no dependants does increase his chances of winning this sick lottery and he was chosen.

He had no food over Christmas, and had to rely on the kindness of others. When I offered him some food, the first thing that he said to me was ‘I haven’t got any money, I can’t pay for this’. I told him that money isn’t needed, and tears ran down his face. He has promised to appeal this sanction, and I do feel that he stands a good chance of winning his appeal. He has also agreed to access other local organisations. At least he now has a  bit of hope, hope that he previously didn’t have, that the government had taken away from him. Its abhorrent that they continue to target individuals like this, but I will continue to fight against this evil system on behalf of those who can’t.

 

I spoke to a street homeless man, who’s tent had been slashed over the festive period. Why and how people can get kicks from targeting vulnerable people like this is beyond me, but they do. We had a short conversation, he finds it hard to trust people, and it’s taken a couple of years for him to build his trust with me. But one step at a time, and hopefully he will start to engage with other organisations. Knowing that he is ok, is very good though, if I don’t see the usual faces around town I get worried, and I know that others do too.

 

We spoke to an older lady who is 63 years old. She had failed her ESA medical and has been forced to sign on. She has numerous medical conditions and there is no way that she should be forced to sign on, for heavens sake she’s 63 and should have been entitled to her pension. We advised her to appeal this decision and she told us that she hadn’t been advised of this by her advisor. She took a leaflet, and told us that she would submit an appeal as soon as possible. It’s sickening that a government can treat older people like this, it both upsets and angers me, in  my eyes this can never be right, never.

 

I spoke to a woman and a man entering the Jobcentre. I stopped them because the man had no shoe on one foot and his ankle was twisted slightly, he was also using a makeshift walking stick. I immediately asked them if they were ok and they told me that it was their first time signing on, and they had been warned that they had to attend. Getting medical attention should have been their priority, but they were afraid that if they went their claim would be dismissed. I informed them of their rights and handed them a leaflet. But being so scared of a system that is designed to punish them, has forced them into not putting their health first. To put it simply, it’s inhumane, horrendous, well I have other words also but I don’t like swearing on here. The amount of control that the government now has over the poorest and most vulnerable in society is obscene. Their first thought is that they must comply to a system that hates them, that actively discriminates them and abuses them, much like an abusive relationship only a person cannot walk away from the system. even if they manage to find a job, it has to be a well paid, full time job and there aren’t many of them around now, especially for people that aren’t highly qualified.

I spoke to a lady who was leaving the Jobcentre after her appointment. She asked me if it was usual for the advisors to ask lots of probing questions about her children. She also told me that she was aggressive with her tone of questioning and she felt intimidated by this. I informed her, that no it isn’t usual, that her advisor should not be prying into her personal life, after all they already had all the details of her children for her claim and no further help was needed with this. She also informed me that she felt that this advisor had tried to target her from the start of her appointment, by telling her that she wasn’t fulfilling her claimant commitment. She told her advisor that she was, and she went through her weekly activity step by step proving that she was doing. She told me ‘It’s not fair, I know that I’m doing everything right, I’m not stupid. Just because I’m young and have children does not mean that I’m stupid. I’m just glad that I could prove her wrong and I challenged her, others might not have done’. In my opinion, this advisor was acting out of order, had decided that she would target this young woman and failed in her attempt to do so.

I advised her to make an official complaint and how to do so. This is very effective and if she does this, she won’t have to see that advisor again and it would make other advisors think twice about targeting her. I had to do this once and it works. If you are undergoing the same problem then please make an official complaint. If you have a decent MP then do it through them. It works and is very effective.

 

Even though there was only a few of us there today we helped lots of people, gave people hope, support and solidarity. We also provided food, and some warm packs that had been donated. We handed out approximately 12 food parcels in two hours. That’s a lot but they were needed and are needed every week. They are essential. and we will return next week and every week to do the same.

Many thanks to everyone who attended, you all give me hope that one day this might change. Not overnight but it might change and when you have nothing else hope does help doesn’t it. Many thanks to my readers and for everyone who supports my blog and the campaign, without you it would be hard to carry on, and I know that I don’t say it enough but THANK YOU so much.

 

I now have to attend to my daughter who has caught a sickness bug, so if I’m delayed in responding to you that is why. I’m hoping that it is a 24 hour bug, it’s that time of year.

Keep well everyone and solidarity to you all.

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I was going to go to Ikea and steal some milk for my children.. Failed ESA medicals.. Long Universal Credit waits. Today’s blog.

It’s supposed to be the season to be jolly isn’t it.. well that’s what they keep telling us.. They being the media in general and the community, except that it isn’t a season to be jolly, not for the people that I spoke to today. Most of them didn’t have a Christmas, many that did spent it alone and it was dire. That’s the best way of describing it.

 

Temperatures have plummeted yet again, and ice was thick on the ground when I set off from my home for the demo. It’s supposed to be a quiet period, the period between Christmas and New Year, and it is for many, however when you are unemployed and are forced to claim Universal Credit and the like job searches still have to be completed, forms still have to be filled in and life just carries on as normal, well as normal as normal can get if you know what I mean.

 

I had my daughter in tow today and we arrived early because she wanted to buy some warm drinks for the homeless folk that are in our local town. She’s got a good heart she really has, and we did just that because even at the age of 11 she realises that it’s important to keep warm.

As we were strolling through the shopping arcades I was approached by a young couple that have had just about the longest run of bad luck that I’ve ever known. When disaster strikes, it certainly strikes at their door.

They and their children had been illegally evicted from their home just before Christmas and they have been forced to stay at a friends 1 bedroomed flat for the time being, because everywhere was shut for the Christmas period. It seems that their landlord certainly had taken a leaf out of Scrooges handbook, and illegally evicted them from their home whilst they were out. They weren’t even allowed to access their possessions, clothes and Christmas presents for the children. They had lost everything including access to their mail.

They have taken advice from Shelter who have appointed them a solicitor and they have started the legal proceedings. I can’t go into further details here because I don’t want to hamper this, however from what I was told this was illegal, the police are involved and they have a solicitor. It’s a start.

The woman was nearly crying when she was telling me about it all, about how awful Christmas was for them all and it was just awful. It was then that my friend Dan arrived for a surprise visit, and I think their story even shocked him. She told me that she was going to go to Ikea and fill a bottle full of milk. I told her that we would help them and we did just that. For crying out loud we are the 5th or 6th (can’t remember this exactly so please forgive me) and people are living a life like this. But hey, it’s ok because we can now have blue passports, well the people that can afford them that is. It’s sickening isn’t it.

 

 

Dan had travelled miles to join us, and both myself and Gordon were certainly relieved to have him with us today. He came laden with extra food parcels that were all distributed.. Thanks Dan. Anyway I digress.

 

 

 

I spoke to a man who had been looking attentively at the food parcels. He must have been freezing. He was wearing a very thin summer jacket and a thin summer shirt. I asked him if he was ok and did he need any help at all. He told me that he was three weeks into his long wait for his Universal Credit claim to go through. Looking at him, I doubt that if he hadn’t bumped into us today then he might not have survived the long wait for his claim to go through. I gave him food, had a good chat with him and signposted him. I asked him to come and have a chat with us next week as well if he can because a friendly word is what is needed when times are tough. I can then check if he is accessing other organisations. Sometimes this can take several weeks to happen for many different reasons.

 

 

I spoke to a young woman who went on to tell me how useless the work programme is. She’s correct, it’s awful and these so called back to work programmes actually take a lot of time away from actual job searching and attempting to improve a person’s life. They are soul destroying they really are.

 

 

I spoke to a man that is for the third time having to appeal a wrongful ESA medical assessment result. He was angry, totally understandable and we had a long discussion about the evils of the system. He took a leaflet and told me that he will be in touch with the relevant organisations.

 

I made comment that upon walking into the computer area of our library is akin to walking into a sea of lost souls.. Every time that I walk in there I see people that I speak to outside the Jobcentre, all looking for not suitable non existent jobs. I hope that they have been able to keep up with their job search whilst the library has been shut for Christmas. If they don’t then they will be sanctioned.

 

 

We spoke to an older chap who was waiting for his girlfriend to finish her appointment inside the Jobcentre. He hadn’t been told that he could accompany her, because she is vulnerable and has just failed her ESA assessment. They are appealing, and will be taking it to tribunal. ‘We have to do this every time’ she said. However, I did inform her of her ability to claim the appeal rate which she said that she would look into.

 

 

Another man started to speaking to me, he told me that he used to be a good employer and a fair one. He used to run a good business and had thought that he would be respected when he was older. ‘I can’t believe that I’m being treated worse than the crap underneath someone’s shoes’ he retorted. The pain in his eyes was obvious.

 

We handed out lots of food parcels, helped lots of people because help is still needed throughout the year. Every week my heart breaks a bit but is built up again by the people that I speak to and of course you, my readers and my Facebook and Twitter friends. You can find me on Twitter as @charlotteh71

Thank you for all your support, it keeps me and the team going. But most of all it keep the people going that have to endure this cruel system, and it’s cruel beyond measure.

This week was tough, maybe one day things will get better and I pray hard for that day.

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Sanctioned for not being able to sign on on bank holiday Monday. Tears, frustration and rain.

Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.

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We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy.  But it’s a whole lot harder for them.

I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at  Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also. He mentioned that some of the advisors at Stalybridge could be awful, but Ashton Jobcentre felt positively hostile. I had to agree with him. The frontline staff has a habit of making a person feel like they are guilty of committing some heinous crime, when in fact their only crime and it isn’t a crime is being poor.

You really have to experience this to understand what I’m talking about. I experienced the same treatment when I used to have to sign on there. It was awful, with G4S security guards taking personal details to check appointments. Of course, this is illegal but the DWP and their employees seem to be immune to any type of action being taken against them. One day I’m sure that their time will come.

He also explained to us that he had failed his ESA medical and was in the process of appealing, so until he can prove that he has launched an appeal he has had to submit a claim for JSA. He knows the score and what to do but it doesn’t make it easier does it. So he is now in no man’s land, waiting for everything to be processed and it is a horrible place to be.

Whilst I was standing outside the Jobcentre I spotted a man walk in, who was very obviously disabled and in discomfort. He didn’t want to speak on his way into the Jobcentre but chose to do so on the way out. He has an injury to his knee and it’s in a large knee support, and because he was claiming Universal Credit he was handing sick notes in to cover him for this period of time. I advised him that he could claim ESA if the injury is going to cause a disability that might take some time to recover from and he took that advice on board. The DWP hasn’t made his life easy though and they are continuing to mess him about with his payments. Unfortunately, he didn’t go into great detail but I advised him and gave him a leaflet. I also asked him if he wanted a food parcel. He said no, he would be ok but his father who was stood behind him said: “Yes we do, I’m having to feed you and I have very little money”.  Having been in this situation myself, I gladly gave him a food parcel and at least they will eat better this week.

This is another hidden issue that not a lot of people speak about. I’ve been in this position myself and it’s very hard looking after a relative who has had their lifeline taken off them by the DWP for whatever reason that may be.

I felt a lot of stress and hardship when I had to do this, so this could well be what many people feel like when they are in the same situation. Cooking for one extra person might not seem to be a lot, but it soon mounts up. Also, there are the extra bills that have to be paid such as gas, electric etc. Managing from day to day is very hard indeed and demands on food banks and similar organizations grow as a result.

If a person has no family then it’s a dire situation to be in, so please have sympathy with those forced into this awful situation which wasn’t of their choice.

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I spoke to a man who was rushing down the road to talk to me. He was so upset. His situation has spiraled out of control, and he hadn’t followed up our advice on what to do and where to go. Seeking help is often very hard. It takes courage and swallowing of pride. Asking for and accepting help is very hard indeed.

I told him of a local organization that he can go to straight away to get some immediate help and that he must go now. The nights are getting cold and with his health conditions, I didn’t want him sleeping on the streets. I gave him a food parcel and a colleague (Karl) gave him a lift up to this organization. It was vital that he went, so we made sure that he did. Thanks, Karl.

We then started talking to a lady who had also previously attended Stalybridge Jobcentre. She also informed us of how different Ashton Jobcentre is. She wasn’t happy. She had been diagnosed with Bi Polar years ago but is new to the signing on  process and she was understandably overwhelmed. It was then that she started crying, saying that she is 58 years old and cannot physically look for work eight hours a day. She doesn’t know how to use computers and the system has confused her.

We advised her to make a claim for ESA and advised her of how to do this and where to go to get help to do so. She also said that she had no friends, so I told her that I would be her friend as did other members of the group. The tears disappeared and she felt supported and loved. This is exactly why we are there every week and will continue to be.

I also spoke to a young man who had been given a signing on appointment for the previous bank holiday Monday. Yes folks, bank holiday Monday. Of course, he couldn’t sign on and he informed the Jobcentre of this. The DWP were totally unsympathetic of course and informed him that he was now sanctioned for not attending. You really couldn’t make this up, could you?

It’s not the first time that we have seen this though and it isn’t unusual. He is appealing and he will win and overrule this sanction, but in the meantime, he is without money. We gave him appropriate advice and signposted to all local groups. Let’s hope that he takes this up.

I and a colleague started talking to a man who was a former policeman. He had taken early retirement and was attending the Jobcentre just to keep up his national insurance contributions. He told us of his struggles and that he is really struggling to manage on the pension that he has been given. I advised him to go to the local Citizens Advice centre where they can do a full benefit check for him. He says that he has now been forced back to looking for work, and will hopefully get one within the police force. He didn’t have a nice word to say about the Jobcentre and I don’t blame him.

We started talking to a lovely young woman who had lost her job due to no fault of her own. She had been working at a children’s day nursery and had been exploited, both of the hours and work that she was expected to do, but also because of her good nature. I can’t elaborate more due to the fact that she might be taking further action about this through her union. She might not, but I don’t want to ruin her chances of doing so if she does.

This is another issue that is growing sadly. The exploitation of staff by management at some private day nurseries. They usually employ young staff members and overwork them. of course, some don’t, and kudos to those that don’t. But for a long time now I have been hearing these stories. The apprentice scheme at these day nurseries can also exploit them, I’ve heard some awful stories about this also. It’s about time that all apprenticeships are properly regulated because young people should not be exploited. Young people should be respected because they are, after all our future.

We also had a few people in cars shout over to us saying the old ‘Get a job’ as if they were the first people to say it. It’s not clever nor is it smart. And to drive away as fast as they can makes them cowards in my eyes.

If they actually stopped and spoke to us they would realize that most of us are working, but on very limited incomes or retired. Sadly I’m used to it now.

Today we handed seven food parcels out, many thanks to Pat and the gang at Glossop for that. Many thanks also to Tom for the sandwiches that he donated they made a big difference.  We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

It honestly never ends. The suffering never ends and it is getting much worse than it ever has been. Even if we by some miracle could change governments tomorrow it will take years and I mean years to rectify the damage caused by this awful government. I really don’t have a clue how people will survive.

Next week is our four-year anniversary demo and the theme for this one is ‘Prisoners of the state.’ Please come and join us 10-12 Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old Street Ashton Under Lyne.  We also will hopefully have some special guests coming along. Tea and coffee will be available for all.

Please share my blog, talk about it, and there is a donate button below if anyone would like to donate.

Thank you.

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This is why we protest.

Here is a video of the Rev David Grey making his speech outside the Job Centre… And also you will hear afterwards the list of the dead which is updated by the Black Triangle campaign. They update this list on a regular basis. Sadly this list isn’t complete because the government refuses to release the actual figures and names of people that have died as a result of the welfare reforms…

Please watch… Warning you will get angry and you will get upset. I struggle to read this list so my friend helps me out which I appreciate enormously.
Please help us to continue to fight this legalised genocide of the poorest people in society. Help us by sharing this blog to get the word out there, by joining us if you can, by starting your own movement in your local area and most importantly by making people aware that this is going on every single day in most Job Centres up and down the country.
This is wrong and we will not stop until this has stopped.
We will never be forgotten.