Tag: reform

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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Three months without a Universal Credit payment. Astounding DWP bureaucracy setting people up to fail. Universal Credit isn’t working.

Dear readers, I must apologise. I have a virus and I haven’t been well all week so I apologise in my slow response to responding to you, hopefully I will be feeling much better soon.

Today we were met by lots of people with many differing problems, mostly caused by the inane and ridiculous bureaucracy system that the DWP operates. Not one department within the DWP communicates effectively with each other (if at all) and it causes endless hurdles that people have to jump through to receive the help that they need and deserve. Personally I believe that it’s a total reflection of the state of the government at present and their disdain for the poor and disabled. They have created a system that is designed to be purposely difficult to navigate. They just don’t want to help them, but are very quick to help themselves.

I’ll list the conversations that I had with people today, it makes things much less complicated. All the people that I spoke to will remain anonymous due to the very real fear of repercussions from the DWP. This does happen, I’ve seen it.

We were very busy today, so please read to the end if you can. Everyone that we spoke to were given advice, help, a survival guide and a food parcel if needed. We handed out five today. There is a massive need for help but organisations such as Citizens Advice and Welfare Rights are extremely busy and to put it bluntly have no money. It’s shocking.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a young man who was visibly distressed. He told me that he had applied to claim for Universal Credit three months ago, but due to seemingly constant problems he has been waiting for three months for his first payment. That’s three months without a payment, three months without a rent payment and he is now at risk of being evicted.

You see, lots of people don’t understand that whilst awaiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed you cannot claim Housing Benefit because it is paid as a part of Universal Credit. Personally I believe this to be wrong, it should be paid as soon as a claim is made and approved just like it used to be, and it should be paid directly to the landlord. It doesn’t make sense to do it any other way, unless of course the main aim of the people that designed this system was to increase homelessness, increase poverty and to ensure that people become ill.

In their fluffy, perfect worlds they have families that might help. Most of the people that myself and others talk to don’t. And we don’t live in an ideal world either do we.

 

I spoke to an older man that has had his ESA (Employment Support Allowance) stopped due to a failed medical assessment. The assessors appear to be on a roll at the moment, nearly everyone that I speak to that has had a medical assessment either for ESA or PIP (Personal Independence Payment) has failed and they are having to go through the appeal process. This causes a great deal of stress to anyone having to endure this. For gods sake, if they have been diagnosed as being disabled by consultants and doctors then they have already been assessed. This whole process has been purely created to prevent vulnerable people from receiving the help that they need.

 

I had a long discussion with another older man whom has been awarded a lower level of PIP than he previously received after a medical assessment. He is appealing but he was obviously distressed and needed to talk. Like I said previously this is happening far too often.

 

I spoke to a man that I have spoken to previously. He had lost his job and was awaiting his first Universal Credit payment, however the DWP saw fit to not pay him his payment and instead they deducted the money that he should have received as holiday. Instead of being treated as capital, they treated it as a wage so now he has been left with no money and not able to pay his rent. Maybe this is correct, but it’s wrong. They had been informed about the payment of holiday pay and he was informed that he would receive a payment today.

Upon waking this morning he tried phoning the Universal Credit hotline up, but he was constantly cut off so he mistakenly believed that the Jobcentre staff would help him. He has no money, his landlord had already telephoned him asking for his rent and the Jobcentre told him that they wouldn’t help and that he had to phone them.

He had already tried, he was cut off and he wanted some help. But no, that’s not available anymore. Can you imagine the frustration that he must have felt. Not helping someone in their hour of need is certainly not empowering them to find work, it’s actually preventing a person from concentrating on anything else that day apart from survival.

 

We spoke to two Poundworld employees soon to loose their jobs. They had no idea of what to do, what to claim and how to do it. Neither of them are computer literate either. I  helped them the best that I could and explained what needed to be done.

My heart sank thinking about the hurdles that they will now have to go through. These are the same ladies that I used to chat to when shopping there. They always had a smile for me and enjoyed their job. I’m not going into the complexities of why Poundworld is shutting, but what I do know is that thousands of people are now being forced to battle a system that doesn’t want to help them and that’s scary.

 

I spoke to a lovely lady who was very aware of how the DWP system works, shes researched herself and has now found employment after gaining a qualification. She told me how hard it is to survive and she lives on her own. She went on to say she can’t imagine how hard it is for a single parent with children, or a couple to survive.

We had a very interesting discussion about how women with children resort to crimes such as shoplifting to survive (I’ve mentioned this in an earlier blog). Most eventually end up in court and it escalates to such an extent that they can loose everything. Their home, children, hopes and dreams. These are decent people trying to survive, trying to provide for their children.

Even if a parent doesn’t resort to crime it leaves them with the inability to pay for the basics such as food, clothing and bus fares to school if needed. Fines are issued to the parents of children that have over an amount of unauthorised amount of days off school. They can’t afford to pay the fine and are at risk of being imprisoned.

It makes me feel sick that this is even happening but it is. Survival is the name of the game for many. Children are suffering, but this government cares not one bit about this. Privately run care homes for children are opening and they in turn charge local councils a small fortune for their services. I worked in one in the past and the owner was doing extremely well out of it. This does need to be investigated more.

 

I spoke to a man that I have spoken to previously. He had left his partner, stopped his claim for carers allowance and had made a new claim for Universal Credit. The DWP were aware that he had stopped his claim for Carers Allowance, but due to a mistake made by them had wrongly deducted the Carers Allowance element from his payment. This has left him with very little money, he needs to pay his rent and he was worried.

He phoned the Universal Credit hotline up and has been told that they are investigating and he should receive his money back. Imagine this though, imagine that instead of enquiring as to what had happened he went into a state of panic, couldn’t handle complaining and tried to hide from the problem? Thousands of people do, they are tired and are sick of fighting. Many give up altogether and quite frankly mistakes like this shouldn’t be happening but they are.

Universal Credit isn’t working, its not really designed to, and I’m sick of having to say this. It needs stopping, scrapping and replaced with a fair, uncomplicated system. It’s not rocket science is it.

 

I spoke to a man that had previously thought that he was having a bit of good luck for a change. He found a job but his celebrations were short lived. He told me that the working conditions were ‘prehistoric’. He had been forced to work in a very dangerous environment with no health and safety rules being enforced. It was extremely hard manual labour, and dangerous at that. He stuck it out for a week but was afraid for his physical safety so he left. He’s now unemployed again, but told me that he’s thankful to be alive.

Employment laws really shouldn’t be flouted, but they often are. Labour is often underpaid and not respected. With high levels of unemployment unscrupulous employers can just employ more and more people to replace the employees that have left. It’s wrong, but it happens and one day a serious workplace accident will take place.

 

We spoke to a man trying to dispute his claimant commitment. The DWP are trying to force him into taking an unreasonable Claimant Commitment. They don’t want to take into account his disabilities. He is pursuing this though and our survival guide will help him with this.

 

The whole DWP system is rotten to the core. There’s no care involved anymore, and everyone is just an expendable number, even DWP employees. It’s a culture of fear and created to be thus.

Can you imagine how awful it is for thousands and thousands of people up and down the country on a daily basis? We are only outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for two hours and in those two hours we encountered this high amount of problems, mostly caused by an overcomplicated system that doesn’t communicate with different departments that is failing the very people that it claims to help. It’s sickening.

 

Please read, share, tweet and fb my blog, email it also. I do my best and it’s hard work but one day we will have justice. No one deserves to be treated like this, no one.

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Older man who has had two strokes and two heart attacks declared fit for work. Stop your ESA claim and apply for Universal Credit to receive housing benefit, even though they don’t have to by law. Welcome to hell.

Dear readers, today has been very upsetting and stressful, not only for the people that I have spoken to but for myself also. I’m absolutely furious on their behalf. You see I cannot stand any kind of injustice and it’s been pretty dire today. But it’s not about me and I realise that.

The weather was very hot for a change and the smoke coming from the moorland fire has decreased thankfully. I can’t praise our firefighters enough. You might have seen me mention this on the Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday.

Anyway, enough about me. After reading this I’m certain that you will be both furious and upset. I’m sorry but this is what it’s like and I can’t apologise for this. I’m not a fan of sugar coating reality, especially when people are suffering.

 

The first person that I spoke to today was a man struggling with his gas and electricity meter. He lives in a privately rented flat, his meters are outside his flat and they’ve been damaged. This is a common occurrence with this block of flats, and having no joy with the landlord he telephoned his energy supplier. They in turn informed him that it’s his landlords responsibility and he was on his way to speak to his landlord again. I hope that he manages to get it sorted out.

 

I spoke to a man who had been considering committing suicide the previous weekend. He has contact with the mental health team and takes medication, but sometimes this isn’t enough. The government has deprived NHS mental health services of funding and they can no longer provide many of the services that they used to provide. He told me  that being alive is pointless and what’s the point in continuing. Thankfully we had a long chat and he changed his mind. He knows that he can phone me if he needs someone to talk to.

 

I spoke to an older man who honestly looked like he should be retired already. He was reluctant to speak at first, but thankfully he did. He told me that he had worked all his life, and due to no fault of his own has found himself to be unemployed and claiming Universal Credit. He has went on to say that he has had two strokes and two heart attacks. After having a Universal Credit medical assessment they declared him fit for work. I informed him that he can and should appeal this decision, but to be honest he looked completely done in, not able to cope with the system and extremely fed up.

Seeing him walk away so despondent upset both my colleagues and myself. A man with his health conditions should be allowed to retire. I’m a great advocate of lowering the retirement age for all to sixty if they should wish to retire. Many of the older people that I speak to are worn out and need to be given that option. Instead they are made to complete endless job searches and attend pointless courses. It’s sickening. Lets treat our older generation with some decency and respect please.

 

I spoke to a young man that has already been waiting three weeks for his Universal Credit payments to be processed. Of course they had demanded a copy of his birth certificate and luckily this had been paid for (not by the DWP). I believe that the DWP should pay for a copy of a birth certificate if they require one, but they don’t and this leaves many, many people in a desperate situation.

 

I spoke to a young man that was obviously distressed. He told me that he has an active claim for ESA and is due his payment next week. He is NOT claiming Universal Credit, he is receiving JSA alongside this. His circumstances have not changed since applying for ESA.

He went to the local council offices to make a claim for Housing Benefit only to be told that he can’t claim it and that he has to take himself off ESA and onto Universal credit. I have a problem with this. The DWP have stopped transferring  people that are already claiming ESA onto Universal Credit, the rules have been changed, but it appears that someone working for the local authority isn’t aware of this ruling change or some kind of decision has been made locally to encourage everyone to claim Universal Credit locally.

Incidentally, as you will read later he wasn’t the only person to tell me that this has happened to them. I have approached the housing benefit department for an answer to this,  and I also have informed by local MPS office expressing my concerns. I will update if there is a response from the local Housing Benefit department. My local MPs office are also very concerned. Thank goodness we have very good MPs in our area.

 

I spoke to a newly unemployed woman. She told me that her husband is older than herself (64) have both been made homeless and her partner wasn’t  in the best of health when this occurred.

They had both worked all of their adult lives’ and I say this because it really doesn’t matter if you have. The government will still treat you with disdain and disgust and no one will receive any better treatment.

They were previously privately renting a house, as many do due to the shortage of social housing. Upon being told to evict the premises by bailiffs they did as they were told, they attended our local housing options office to declare their homeless status. They were both given a quick assessment to find out if they were entitled to any emergency housing. They were told that they weren’t and they were both ‘fit for the streets’. Yes that is the exact words that were used.

Resigned to their fate, they did just that and lived on the streets, walking for twelve hours a day. This had a very detrimental effect on her partners health and a growth on his leg burst causing an infection. They rushed to A&E, were treated and then contacted Housing Options of their change of circumstances.

Luckily they were then housed and were given temporary accommodation. She had to fight for this, because at first she was told that they would only help her partner. I can’t imagine how scared she must have been. But she fought her corner and won.

This is how easy anyone can become homeless. Losing a job, a private landlord selling up. It can happen to ANYONE. Luckily, and I don’t say luckily easily because it’s been extremely stressful for them both, they are both doing much better now. As they are now awaiting their first Universal Credit payment I handed them a food parcel and informed them of all the local organisations that can help them.

This country is really screwed up isn’t it. Local authorities with a very limited money to spend on emergency housing are setting the bar so high that it’s very hard for people to be housed in emergency accommodation.  The government should be condemned for their reduction in funding and also for the decision that anyone should be forced to live like this, let alone a near elderly man.

Roy spoke to a 61 year old woman that has had her work hours reduced from 16 1/2 hours. Her son has also recently finished college and her income has been greatly reduced. She’s looking for more work hours but is finding it impossible. I cannot forgive the government for increasing the womens retirement age.

She told us that the government are heartless and that she can fully understand why people want to kill themselves.

 

I then spoke to another young man that has an active claim for ESA. He has also been told by the local housing benefit department that he has to stop his claim for ESA and claim Universal Credit in order to receive Housing benefit.  I was furious, not only is this incorrect he suffers from mental health issues and has been told by his doctor that he cannot work. I offered advice etc and signposted him. So now he is worried about loosing his home on top of being ill already, and awful combination.

I have reported this back to my local MP and attempted to contact the local council. As stated earlier I’m still awaiting a response.

 

I then took a telephone call from a man that is quite knowledgeable on DWP related matters. He went into Ashton Jobcentre and asked them to fax his fit note to  the relevant ESA department. His request was denied and he was told that Ashton Jobcentre is part of a pilot scheme that is refusing to fax fit notes.

I shall endeavour to find out if this is correct, but if it’s true or he has been lied to I’m furious. How are disabled and ill claimants expected to find a fax machine? Needless to say this angered me.

 

I spoke to an older lady that is really struggling on the Universal Credit system. She told me her story and I have signposted her to speak to her local councillors. They will help her, they are a fab, proactive group in Mossley and I’m certain that they will help her.

 

There you have it folks, just two hours of one day. We spoke to many extremely vulnerable people all of which have been subjected to obstructions placed in their way at every step, all of which are punitive and designed to put a person, regardless of disability, age, sex and  nationality from claiming their rightful social security payments.

We live in a country that is ran by a government that despises the poor and vulnerable. They discriminate against them at every given opportunity and constantly are inventing new ways of doing this. Please join us in the fight to STOP this discrimination and the system that also is responsible for this, because honestly I haven’t got a clue how much more people can take.

A massive thank you to everyone that came along and gave up their free time to help.

 

 

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Today we handed out five food parcels, offered countless advice and made a difference to people’s lives’. I wish that we didn’t need to be there, but today proved that we do need to carry on and I will continue to document it.

We should never forget the cruelty that the government has inflicted upon those in the most need.

 

Thank you to everyone that reads, supports and shares my blog. I really do appreciate this and I don’t have enough time to thank everyone personally. Here’s a massive THANK YOU. Both you and my colleagues keep  me going. It can be very stressful and knowing that you support both myself and the campaign means a lot to me.

Vulnerable man constantly sanctioned, when will this Universal Credit hell end?

Hello readers, and an extra hello to all the new subscribers to my blog. I welcome you with open arms and I hope that you enjoy reading my blog. Enjoy is perhaps the wrong word to use because it can be very upsetting reading. But it’s essential reading, so many people don’t realise how awful the DWP and Universal Credit system is.

 

My apologies for last week, I wasn’t well but I’m on the mend now, thankfully. This week has been a very busy one and a big thank you to everyone that took the tome to watch my interview on Channel 4 news and my interview on Talk Radio also. I don’t do it for personal fame, far from it, I mean who wants to look at my ugly mug on the TV. I do it to raise awareness, and to hopefully one day get justice for each and every person that is suffering, has suffered or has died at the hands of this inhumane and brutal system.

I shall list todays happenings as I usually do. Everyone shall and will remain anonymous. This is important and I respect that. Also for anyone calling me a liar, my conversations are witnessed by others.

I would like to thank everyone that stopped to speak to me today. I realise that it takes a lot of courage to talk to a complete stranger anyway, especially when upset, angry and distressed. Thank you so much, you are all my heroes each and every one of you.

Everyone that myself and team members spoke to recieved help, advice, guidance, signposting, a copy of our survival guide and if needed a food parcel. No one leaves us empty handed.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a disabled man using a walking stick to walk. He looked stressed and didn’t say a lot but his words summed up the whole situation perfectly. He told me that Universal Credit is crap, that his life was ok before. Now he never knows when he’s getting a payment, if its a correct payment and will he be able to manage for the month. He told me that he’s now got rent arrears as a result, and he’s never had this in the past. he’s upset and fed up. Who can blame him.

 

I spoke to a person who has been waiting over 8 weeks for their first Universal Credit payment to be made. The stress has taken it’s toll and they are trying their best to cope. I can’t stress how hard it is to cope without anything for at least eight weeks. Even if they get a loan from the DWP this usually goes on bills, rent, gas and electric. Food becomes an afterthought. There is no excuse as to why Universal Claims have to take this long to be processed but they do. The government likes it this way. I will continue to challenge this as will others.

 

I spoke to an older woman who was struggling to walk with two crutches. She was also very out of breath and I was very worried about her. She told me that she was ok, but she clearly wasn’t.

Her situation is this. Dispite a very visible disability she was declared fit for work at her recent ESA medical. She has asked for a mandatory reconsideration and in the meantime is trying to survive. She enquired  about mortgage relief, and I had to give her the bad news that this doesn’t exist anymore. She owes council tax also and she had just been to the court buildings to try and sort that out.

Of course I advised her correctly and signposted her to relevant organisations etc. To see her struggling like that was awful, no humane government should make any person suffer this way.

 

A woman who was obviously distressed muttered something in the direction of the Jobcentre and rushed off. She obviously needed to get away from the building. Who can blame her.

 

I spoke to a man with a broken arm that has  a housing related problem. We had a good chat and I signposted him to a local organisation that can help. Armed with this knowledge he promised that he would do this.

 

We were stopped by a man who told us that all socialist policies are rubbish. Whilst he was giving us an earful, he was clutching a NHS medicine bag containing medicine dispensed at an NHS chemist. He obviously is taking full advantage of a socialist policy, free healthcare for all that need it. Very ironic I thought and we all had a chuckle at this.

 

I spoke to a young man that has been given sanction after sanction for the same reason every time. His situation is a bit complicated, so hang on you’ll get it in the end. He was addicted to pescription drugs and is going through the rehab process. He had been sanctioned in November, March and June. He has been ill, and had missed an appointment and had explained this to his advisor. They told him that they understood and he was given another appointment. But he was still sanctioned.

He has appealed all these sanction decisions and he has won every time. However this hasn’t stopped the DWP from not understanding his situation and not listening to him. And anyway he should be on ESA. He wasn’t told that he was entitled to do this so now he’s been trying to cope with Universal Credit. It’s complicated I know, but it does make sense.

So now he’s sanctioned again. He asked his advisor how he is supposed to manage, they told him that he has to learn how to manage his money. Excuse me what money. You cant manage money that he hasn’t got. Yep he must have a magic money tree eh.

I advised him and referred him to our local MP. I’m confident that this will be sorted out now, but to make a vulnerable young man that is trying his best to become fit and well again, suffer like this is inexcusable. People need help not punishement. No just no. Stop doing this.

 

I spoke to a man who had to walk for two hours to reach Ashton Jobcentre. Yes two hours. He had no money for bus fares so had to walk, otherwise they would be sanctioned I’ve no doubt about that.

 

We spoke to a young couple that were being messed around by the DWP. We advised them etc. Awful.

 

I spoke to another disabled woman that was rushing for her appointment. The government doesn’t respect disability in any shape or form. Shame on them.

 

We noted quite a few pregnant women and new mums having to go into the Jobcentre. Enjoying a pregnancy or a new baby is near impossible these days.

 

I spoke to a man that told me how awful the new ‘find a job’ system is. His work coach hadn’t given him any warning that he was being transferred over to the new system so now he’s behind with his job search. They might sanction him for this, they might not. Who knows, it depends on the work coach. It wouldn’t have taken them two minutes to pre warn him would it. Thanks for that.. Not.

 

We spoke to two disabled women who had been switched over to Universal Credit before the judgement was made last week. Both are far worse off financially as a result. One of the women was told that her payments would stay the same. What a lie. The other lady had a pacemaker, is seriously ill and has had four heart attacks. As a result of her income being lowered, her internet has been cut off which is vital for her medical needs. She also has a heart monitor that sends readings directly to the hospital via the internet. She’s also waiting for a heart transplant.

I advised her, told her where to go to get good solid advice straight away. She shouldn’t be forced to live like this. It’s diabolical. Please can I have a magic wand for everyone in the same position as her. I want to make it better for her but I can only do my best.

I also informed her of the court judgement etc. I am up to date with everything.

 

This was a typical two hours outside the Jobcentre. Can you imagine how much suffering is going on throughout the country on a daily basis? It’s an unprecedented amount of needless suffering.

It doesn’t have to be this way, we realise this but many don’t. Many think that the poor and disabled should suffer because they are all scroungers. I can tell you that not one person that I’ve spoken to throughout the years is a scrounger and the only scroungers in this country are the multi national companies and millionaires that refuse to pay their taxes. This needs to change but you don’t need me to tell you that of course.

Thank you for reading my blog, thank you to everyone that came along to support us. We attend despite illness and bad weather because we know that people are needing help and advice.

Thank you to everyone that supports and has supported my blog.

As for me I’ll continue as usual and one day we might get justice but I won’t hold my breath.

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It’s not an illness if I can’t see it. Want to know what Universal Credit is like? Read this.

Dear readers, as you know I’ve been blogging for a few years now, maybe more than that but I’ve lost count. Days merge into months and quickly into years. I’m betting that most of you can relate to this.

Today has been extremely busy both outside the Jobcentre and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and emails have been pouring in. People want to know what Universal Credit is really like, and also want to speak to people on Universal Credit. The reason for this is that the DWP has been taken to court via a test case and have been found guilty by the high court of acting unlawfully by denying claimants a lifetime  top up for severe disability. This is a fantastic achievement, however they are appealing this decision so watch this space.

Many of the people that I speak to weekly were previously awarded a lifetime top up but are now denied this. Thank you so much to everyone involved with this court case, its a landmark win and was vitally needed.

 

So for those reading this and wanting to know what life on Universal Credit is like, I can tell you before you read the report from today. It’s awful, dire, stressful, it controls your life and takes away any freedom that a person previously had. It’s discriminatory, doesn’t take illness and disability seriously and seriously holds a grudge against people with disabilities and single parents. Basically its become a tool to harass and hurt the poor. I don’t say this lightly, I speak from experience.

 

No real guidance is given and it’s much like being thrown into the lions den, people are scared and quite rightly so. The DWP basically hold them to ransom under the promise of a payment. Break the rules accidentally etc and they stop their payments which are a lifeline to them. Fail a farcical ESA and PIP medical and you are left with nothing, trying to scramble for help. It’s vile.

 

The first person that I spoke to this morning had failed her ESA medical. She’s disabled and is struggling to cope. She is appealing this decision and is waiting for an appointment to do so, but in the meantime she has no food and no gas and electricity. Not liking crowds she can’t just walk into places where she doesn’t feel certain of  but thankfully felt confident enough to speak to me.

I helped her, gave her a food parcel and sorted out her gas and electric. What sort of a world do we live in where disabled people are left to starve, literally.

 

I spoke very briefly to an Eastern European gentleman who looked stressed and busy. He didnt say much but he didnt need to, his face said it all. For those of the persuasion that believe that immigrants are ‘well off’ and ‘get everything’, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Come and spend some time with us and you’ll soon see this.

 

We spoke to a man who was leaving the Jobcentre. He looked in pain and he was wearing a very large, full back brace. I asked him if he was ok, and he told me that he wans’t. He had broken his vertebrae in three places and had also shattered his wrist in an accident. The DWP hadn’t told him that he can and should be claiming the disability element of Univeral Credit, and that they should in theory be going ‘easier’ on him. Of course readers will know that theory is very different from reality isn’t it. We gave him some valuable advice, handed him a survival guide and wished him well.

We know that he should be taking time to recover but the DWP are very reluctant to do so. It’s almost as if they hate the disabled……

 

I spoke to a man woman who is on Universal Credit. She has to pay back repayments for her loans that she took out whilst waiting for her Universal Credit to be processed. They have informed her that they are going to have to pay back 200 a month. Thats a very excessive amount, and she has asked them to lower the payments. So far they are refusing so I’ve referred her to further help. My local MP’s office will be very busy this week. She also needed a food parcel because she can’t afford to buy food.

 

I spoke to a young woman who had been refused a fitnote by her doctor, the same Doctors surgery that the person that I mentioned in the blog last week. i’ve Informed them of what to do to obtain a fitnote, but will also be taking further action against this myself and involving my local MP. This young woman can’t work, she relies on strong medication and gets extremely drowsy. She has several disabilities, all of which are recognised.Her doctor told her that she can ‘find a job that’s suitable’. Yep, right, course she can. No person with a disability should be discriminated against like this, especially by a doctor.

 

I spent some time reminiscing with a man, remembering the good old times when things used to be better. We both longed for a return of those days.

 

We advised a lady to send a letter to the DWP via the post office and to obtain a receipt. It’s vital that you always get proof of postage at all times, because letters are always mysteriously lost.

 

I spoke to a woman that had spent yesterday and today being messed around by different DWP departments. all she wanted was a fax to be sent from one department to another, but of course they can’t do this quickly and efficiently.

 

I spoke to a lady that I havent seen in a long while. She had previously gone through aa spate of malicious sanctioning by the DWP. She had won her cases, but it’’s started again. Armed with previous knowledge shes fighting again. She’ll win, but in the meantime shes pregnant, with children and no money. Her mum is now having to help her out again, and she has little herself.

 

I spoke to a young woman that appeared to be upset. She suffers from a disability but it isn’t visible. Her advisor is having none of it and had told her ‘if they can’t see it then it’s not an illness’. Now we know thats downright discrimination and with advice shes taking this further. It will take a lot of strength for her to do so though. The DWP can sometimes say what they want, not all are like this but many are, answerable only to the government that condones such incidences we haven’t got much hope have we.

Thanks to the three nice advisors that are currently working at Ashton Jobcentre, it’s a pity that not all are like you.

 

So here it is folks, this all happened in less than two hours. Food parcels were handed out, advice given and solidarity. I wish that I could do more but I don’t have the means to. Once again I’m going to say that we need some kind of support from a left wing polictical party officially, we need it. It’s hard work, the people I speak to are desperate but there’s never been a greater need.

 

Many thanks to everyone that helped out today, you are all amazing. My apologies to my local MPS office because I’ve referred a few people over, but I shouldnt have to in the first place.

We also had a minutes silence for all the Grenfell victims, their families and the community. I hope that one day they get the justice that they deserve.

As for myself, I’ll just keep plodding on like I do. I do my best, I can’t be everywhere and I live on a very low budget so please be patient.

Thanks for reading, solidarity.

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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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I’m sick of people looking at me as if I’m dirt. This weeks blog.

Hello readers! I was extremely worried about being able to write the blog in time but I’ve managed it. This makes me very happy. I’ll write this weeks blog in the usual manner, it’s easier that way.

The weather was lovely and warm, so has made life a bit easier for many of us. I’m also thankful for that and long may it last!

 

The first person that I spoke to was an older woman, she told me that she wasn’t in the best of health but had failed her ESA ‘medical’ examination. Note how I highlight the word medical. These assesments are mostly a farce to force ill and people with disabilities off their rightful benefits and onto either a benefit that they can’t cope with or to take themselves off the system. Indeed, some people force themselves to work again even though they can’t cope. It’s a choice of trying to exist on a DWP system that is extremely cruel and relentless or take up some kind of employment. She chose the latter because, as she told me it’s easier to try and cope in work and suffer healthwise, than cope with ‘that’ system.

 

I spoke to a lovely man who had been employed by the DWP or the lift maintance company to fix the STAFF lift. Knowing that there is actually a working lift inside was good news, but it’s a pity that the use of this lift has been refused to many. Before anyone states that this isn’t the case, I’ve witnessed this on more than one occasion myself and I recall that I might have blogged about it. If not I apologise. But I have witnessed a refusal and also a refusal to admit that there was a lift that could be used. Please DWP employees, can you ensure that EVERY person requiring the use of a lift is allowed to do so! Thanks so much!

 

I spoke to a man briefly. He muttered ‘I’m sick of people looking at me as if I’m a piece of dirt. I’m not, I’m a human being’. He is of course, and this happens a lot even to me. Some people are very quick to judge others that are less fortunate than themselves and I’m not niave this has always happened. My motto is ‘But by the grace of god go I’.

 

I spoke to a woman that had just been informed that she has to attend another group course at the Tameside Enterprise Centre. I wish that I was surprised by this but I wasn’t. That building has long been used to hold these courses, and Avanta had offices inside the building. She told me that this course will be yet another useless one and that she had been forced onto loads of them. Make no mistake,  these outsourced companies make a lot of money from running these courses, all paid for by the government.

 

I spoke to a lady as she was leaving the Jobcentre. She was clutching a piece of paper and looked lost and confused. She told me that she had asked for advice and they just handed over the leaflet with telephone numbers on it. I advised her upon what she should do etc and handed her one of our survivial guides. She was very thankful.

 

I spoke to an older woman that had just had her signing on appointment date, time and place confirmed by text, and she showed me this. Upon handing in her details at the front desk, she was told that her appointment was now at the Tameside Enterprise Centre which is a ten minute walk away. This would have made her late, and their failure to inform her of this change in time is very neglectful. I really hope that they are sympathetic to her circumstances. I’ll find out next week hopefully.

So lets understand this.. They have failed to communicate with her, she arrived 5 minutes early as are the rules, so making her late. They really should have managed this much better.

 

I spoke to a man who told me that ‘This system is against us’. He isn’t wrong there is he.

 

I spoke to another lady, who upon attending her regular appointment was informed that she also had an extra apointment later that day at the Tameside Enterprise Centre. So she is now left to hang around the town centre for a few hours because she can’t afford to get the bus home and back. She doesn’t live local. They honestly like to keep people on their toes don’t they.

 

I spoke to a woman who had accompanied her son to the Jobcentre for his appointment. She stayed at the edge of the pavement and told me that she couldn’t come any nearer.

She explained that she had past dealings with the Jobcentre and they had caused her to have a breakdown.

She had been caring for her mother who was dying. Her nurses had told her that her mother would most likely pass away that day, and she had to be with her. Quite rightly so. She also had an appointment with the Jobcentre to sign on that day and she tried to change the appointment. She was refused because ‘You still have to do this’. She had no reason to lie to me either.

This in turn caused a downward spiral in her health and wellbeing, which she said took her a long while to recover from but it has left her with a fear of the DWP. Her advisor must have been one of the awful ones, we have a few because a kinder one would have given her allownce for her mothers death. Heartless.

 

I spoke to a lovely woman, who also reads this blog. Hi!! She wanted to thank me for the advice that I had given her because she has now had her money reinstated with backpay. To say that I’m happy about this is an understatement. when dealing with a complicated case, please go and see your MP. A big shout out to one of our local MPs Jonathon Reynolds and his team for helping. They do an amazing job. Even if you have a rubbish MP go and see them, if you don’t go they won’t know that you are suffering. And all MPs have to acknowledge your visit.

 

Last but not least, we spoke to a young man who had been dealt a very raw deal in life. He was a care leaver, and upon leaving care went to live with a relative. His relative died so he then became homeless. After a period of being on the streets in Manchester he visited our local Housing Options to see what help they could give him. They refused, saying that he had made himself intentionally homeless. From everything that he told us, and he had no reason to lie, he certainly hadn’t.

We advised him, Citizens Advice told him the same thing also so we signposted him appropriately. I really hope that he has some good luck soon, he’s certainly on my mond as is everyone else.

 

Today we handed out all of our food parcels, gave lots of help and advice and showed compassion to those needing it. Thats certainly non existent within the DWP.

 

Thanks to Roy for joining me and to Gordon for coming to say hello. Gordon isn’t well atm and can’t join us for a few weeks yet. Get well soon Gordon! Happy birthday for Saturday Roy!

 

I can’t stress how much we are needed outside the Jobcentre, even though at times I get dispondant. We hep people, but we do need more support from the Labour Party. Unemployed people and people with disabilities are just as important as working people.

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I want to die, I can’t carry on being treated like this. The DWP is cruel,unfit for use and punishes people for their own poverty.

Dear readers, once again I have to apologise for the lateness of this weeks blog. I’ve had an extremely busy week and today was no different. Thank you for your patience.

Today was Unite Community Unions national day of action, but the publicity surrounding this wasn’t that good so we didn’t have a higher than usual turnout, and anyway we do this every week.

Unite Community have now changed their slogan to stop Universal Credit, which is half a step forward towards what most major campaigners against Universal Credit are asking.

We would like a commitment from both the trades unions and the Labour Party to stop, scrap and to form a fair benefit system like the one that we used to have.

I am happy with this move forward but the whole situation is very frustrating, more so for the people that are being discriminated against on a daily basis. Sanctioned people with homes just aren’t big news to some, especially the media but they are to us. So thanks Unite Community.

Today started off fairly slow, and like I have said before I never know what to expect. We were joined today by Jack a local Labour Party Councillor and we really appreciated this act of solidarity. Please come again.

I’ll list todays incidents as usual. It’s easier that way.

The first person that I spoke to was a lady who appeared to leave the Jobcentre in a distressed state. I asked her if she was ok, and would she like to talk. She told me that she wanted some advice from a person on the front desk but was treated in a very discourteous manner, so much so that it upset her greatly. She told me that she was sick of being treated in this manner by the DWP and that she wanted to die. What’s the point in carrying on she said, when I’m worthless in their eyes.

They really shouldn’t treat people like this, but they do because they can and as long as they can nothing will be done about this. I had a long chat with her and I hope that she is ok. I did signpost her to a local organisation that can help her should she wish to access it.

I spoke to a man who’s father had just died. He was struggling to sort everything out and dealing with the DWP was something that he could have done without. We had a nice chat and I handed him our survival guide.

I spoke to a man who struggles to read, so therefore the system is geared against him. He is managing at the moment but really struggles with using computers and his job search. He told me that he had worked for most of his adult life.

I offered him a copy of our survival guide but he told me that he couldn’t read it, so I read it to him. I think that he was surprised that someone would do this for him, let alone a stranger. We had a good chat and he walked away empowered, knowing his legal rights and obligations, and also having been advised what help is out there to assist him with his disability.

We spoke to a man who had lost his job in a local factory recently, so is now awaiting his first Universal Credit payment to arrive. This will of course take some time, and he told us that he was surviving on loans and the kindness of his family.

No one should have to wait as long as it takes to process a claim for Universal Credit, there’s absolutely no need for this long wait. I’m certain that the waiting period has been created to ensure a persons suffering. I mean how dare they ask for help!?

I spoke to an older lady who told me that she was 63. She was quite rightly frustrated that she had to claim Universal Credit. Whilst struggling for breath she told me that she was finding it hard to cope and that no one had told her that she could claim the disability element of Universal Credit before. We had a nice chat and I handed her our survival guide and advised her.

We spoke to a man whom I have mentioned before on my blog. He has had issues with his former employer so I had advised him to contact the law centre. He did just that and he has now been given some extremely good advice and is much more optimistic about his situation. Thank you so much to everyone at  Greater Manchester Law Centre!

I spoke to a young man who had no idea that he was going to be transferred over to Universal Credit on the day of his usual signing on appointment. Because of this he had no time to prepare for this.

How hard would it be for his advisor to pre warn him? They know that we are undergoing full roll out, so please give the people that you see some prior warning and advice please.

I spoke to a man who had worked for the same company for 20 years. He became unemployed so he made an application for Universal Credit. He did everything correctly and attended his first appointment as requested, bearing in mind that he had to travel miles to reach the Jobcentre and it cost a small fortune on the bus. His advisor didn’t inform him of any future appointments and he was waiting for a letter to arrive to confirm an appointment.

Guess what…. The letter didn’t arrive, of course he didn’t attend the appointment which was only two days after his initial appointment. Yes two days. His advisor should have notified him of this appointment either at the initial appointment or by telephone or text. As a result he was sanctioned before he had actually received his first payment.

Madness, complete DWP beaurcratic madness, of course aimed to make a vulnerable person fall at the first obstacle. Sort it out DWP. You are destroying people’s life’s. Of course they know this but I thought that I’d remind them.

My question is this… How much more suffering will already vulnerable people have to endure before they get any decent representation? All they want is for an official body to say officially that they care, that your suffering shouldn’t be happening and we will do all that we can to change this Dickensian system.

Too many people are suffering and dying as a result, and every now and then the media are interested but we need constant support. I really hope that my readers can understand where I’m coming from. In my eyes everyone is important, and no one should be suffering like they are. Maybe I’m being unreasonable.

Here’s the leaflet issued by Unite Community. Anyone affected by Universal Credit can also contact me. Your voices are important and should be heard.

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A massive thank you to everyone that came along and helped today, also a big thanks to Roy for collecting the food parcels and for being a big support to me this week. I can’t thank you and Chris enough.

Please share my blog as widely as possible, I ask this as a favour our voices need to become louder.

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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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It’s easier to shoplift than to deal with the DWP. No one will help me because I fall between the gaps of society. This weeks blog.

Well readers, it’s Thursday again and for a change it wasn’t raining. It was sunny though and that was welcome. We could have done with some of that seemingly tropical weather that we had last week.

 

This week was busy, and we helped many different people all with differing problems. Most of the people that we spoke to were stressed, but thankful that we were there to help, indeed as you will read further down the blog a woman thanked us for this.

As what has become the norm, I’ll list the problems and comments made today. Whilst you are reading you need to question what sort of government treats the poorest and most vulnerable like this? I hope that one day they will be held accountable for this.

 

The first person that I spoke to was a lady whom I had spoken to before. Her problems are very complex, as they often are. None of them can, and will be sorted out overnight. She is trying though but at the moment is in a no win situation.

She’s been affected by the benefit cap and is struggling to keep her home and feed her family. For anyone reading this that claim that she should budget better, let me tell you how difficult it is to budget with NOTHING. Today she was extremely stressed and agitated and asked me for a food parcel, she said that she desperately needed one and I believed her. In her arms were a few packets of baby wipes and assorted bits of food. She told me that she had shoplifted them because she wasn’t sure if we would have a food parcel for her. I told her that we would never let her down.

We had a long conversation about how hard it was for her at the moment. She’s really struggling and will be attending court soon over her rent arrears. She also has to pay top up rent because of the benefit cap. To put it bluntly she’s going through hell and can’t see a way out at the moment.

She told me about how she’s struggling with her job searching online because her internet has been cut off and shes juggling her life around her children. She told me that it’s easier to shoplift than to deal with the DWP, and that she feels degraded and unloved. “Who cares about me? They don’t (pointing at the Jobcentre), and everyone is pressuring me.” I reassured her that we do care, that we will never judge her and her life will eventually get better.

I also signposted her to local organisations etc. To be honest her appearance shocked me, she used to be happy, a smiley person and liked to help others. Today she’s the total opposite and that upset me.

 

I asked an older man how things were going for him at the Jobcentre. He told me that it was rubbish but he had to do it. He isn’t wrong.

 

I spoke to a man who is recovering from an addiction. He’s doing extremely well and is at the moment sofa surfing. He told me that this is far safer than being in a local hostel or b&b because he doesn’t want to be around others with addiction problems because he doesn’t want to relapse. This is extremely understandable.

He told me that the Jobcentre have put him on several courses with the promise  of getting his specialised driving licence and doorperson license. He recalled the good days before his problems started, that he used to earn a good living being a door person (bouncer), stating that he wished that life was like that again.

He stated that he feels frustrated because he falls between the cracks of society. He’s a single, healthy male so isn’t a priority for housing, and he isn’t seen as being vulnerable. Because he’s sofa surfing he isn’t eligible for the new scheme launched by Andy Burnham, which I think states that one of the requirements is that they are long term street homeless.

I had a chat, referred him to local organisations and said that we are here for him every Thursday if ever he needs a chat etc.

 

 

I spoke to a person who is extremely worried about their forthcoming transfer onto Universal Credit. At the moment they claim ESA and PIP, and it’s understandable that they are very concerned. We have made arrangements to meet and have a chat about this.

 

I spoke to a woman who was understandably annoyed. She’s currently unwell and her daughter had tried to hand in her sicknote on her behalf. The person on the front desk told her daughter that she couldn’t do this, and that her mother had to do it.

So she arrived at the Jobcentre, unwell with her sicknote to hand in. A different person on the front desk told her that her daughter COULD have done this. PLEASE do your jobs properly on the front desk folks. Why on earth was her daughter told that she couldn’t hand the sick note in? Appalling.

 

I was told by a person that G4S are still taking claimants (hate that word sorry) personal details at the front desk. Now under the data protection laws they aren’t allowed to do this, they also know that they aren’t allowed to do it but this doesn’t stop them. I’ve complained about this on numerous occasions to no avail.

STOP IT. If any G4S security guard fancies becoming a DWP employee then apply for a job with them. They work for G4S as security guards, but spend most of their time intimidating people, and if the DWP system was kinder like it used to be then they wouldn’t be needed.

 

We spoke to a woman who was thankful of our survival guide. She stated that ‘They try to get you in any way’.

 

We spoke to a younger man. Upon recieving one of our survival guides he pointed at the Jobcentre and said ‘Somat needs to be done about them’. I didn’t disagree with him.

Last but not least, I had a conversation with a lovely lady. She summed up her experience with the DWP perfectly, and this is how most people feel. I’ll let you think about this, and also ask, could you live like this? And why is it ok that a person is made to feel like this? Most of my readers will agree that it isn’t ok.

“They (the DWP) treat you like dirt, and I always feel like I’ve done something wrong.  Because I’m older I was put on a course specifically for older people to find work. Whilst doing this course we were told that we had to arrive with a smiling, happy face. How on earth can anyone be happy when they never leave you alone? They told us that we wern’t allowed to frown because that won’t help us to find work. I was ill at the time, but I was too scared to hand a sick note in because I was scared of what they would do to me, but I still had to smile. I’m not a criminal, I’ve always worked but they don’t care”

Just as she was leaving she stopped me and Roy and said that we had helped her more than anyone inside the Jobcentre had, and that she was thankful that we were there.

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I want to change this system, I’ve been trying for over four years now as have others. The cruelty that is inflicted upon the poorest and most vulnerable appears to be never ending and relentless. It’s almost as if the government gets a strange kick out of doing it.

Some weeks are harder than others, this was a one of those.

Thank you to everyone that came along today. We handed out help, advice, solidarity, compassion, food parcels and are a friend to those that feel lost.

We also signpost everyone if appropriate. We ever let anyone walk away unhelped.

 

Also a massive thank you to everyone that reads, shares, tweets and emails my blog. I really do appreciate it. Also thank you to everyone that supports my blog. As a single parent on the breadline (often below it) myself, I really do appreciate it. Your kind words do mean the world and they keep me going.

Thank you.

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