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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Steve if you are reading this get well soon!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was cold and busy today outside the Jobcentre.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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Thursdays weekly demonstration. Desperation is a constant fiend for claimants.

It’s not easy being a claimant at the jobcentre. Before you even get past the front desk, which is adorned by G4s staff intimidation and fear seems to be the lifeblood of the place.

A claimant is met by a first set of doors. These open automatically and there you see another set of doors. There used to be glass in these doors, but they saw fit to cover them up with a mirrored covering. They don’t like people looking in. You try to open these doors and they are extremely heavy. A person without any physical disabilities struggles opening these doors. It’s been the same for years, I doubt they want to change this. They like it as it is.

When you get to the small reception desk you are greeted by one or two Dwp staff members and two or three G4s security guards. They are there I’m sure to make you feel insecure. This is a place that no one enters by choice.
You then are told either to wait in the appropriate area of if you are 10 minutes early for your appointment you are told to go outside and wait. If the staff are running late that doesn’t matter, they don’t get sanctioned do they.

There are signs everywhere telling you that you can’t have any “hot” drinks in the building indeed a claimant who had brought a warm drink inside the building had it taken off him and placed in the door entry for anyone to take. It’s ridiculous, and also he could have spent his last pennies on this drink.
Neither are you allowed to use a mobile phone or device. If you are seen using it, even to just type a job search they threaten to take it off you. There’s no point in the WiFi being set up in that building, because you aren’t allowed to use your phone inside.

You are then left waiting for your appointment. The g4S guards watching you. Jobcentre staff laughing and joking between themselves. They often run late, many have no regard for the claimants.
Single parents are told not to bring their children into the jobcentre also which is certainly not in any rule book.
There are no toilets that claimants can use, neither is there a lift available for disabled claimants to use.

It’s then down to luck. If you’ve got a nice advisor, which is getting rarer by the day, or your advisor is in a good mood then you might be OK. But if not you are left feeling belittled, intimidated and desperate. It’s no surprise that many people attempt to commit suicide either just before an appointment or just after. The stress is too much for many.
It’s not exactly easy is it? Walk a mile in a claimants shoes before you judge them.

At 10am on Thursday I was met by a disabled lady who had been declared fit by the gods of ATOS. Yes despite the Tory party trying to appease the public, they still do assessments. This lady clearly wasn’t well enough to work. I informed her of her right to appeal, and signposted her to welfare rights. She said that she was certainly going to appeal. The poor woman couldn’t even open the door of the jobcentre.

I was then approached by several working people, working part time whilst claiming universal credit. They are devastated about the changes to universal credit being introduced this month. They are also all very upset about being told to do 30 hour job searches despite working. Yes we are challenging this so expect news on that front soon. We don’t feel that it is right to be doing this. These people are already working, so why should they be penalised.

A claimant stormed out of the jobcentre after being treated very unfairly by a jobcentre advisor. This advisors name keeps popping up and they have a reputation for being awful to claimants. The claimant was furious so armed with a piece of paper and a pen a complaint was wrote out straight away. After we had informed them of their rights they felt empowered. You do have a voice and they won’t be seeing that advisor again.

Also too many women with new born babies are being called in for “benefit reviews”whilst I’m sure that all of these advisors aren’t horrible, I’ve got no doubt that the DWP do this to keep the thumb screws on so to speak. Make sure they know their place, make them feel intimidated. Just the thing you need to deal with when you have just had a baby.

We handed lots of leaflets out, offered help and guidance and provided a shoulder to cry on for any claimant that needed it. We shall continue to do this every week. Please come and join us between 10-12 every Thursday Ashton under Lyne jobcentre, old Street.

It’s getting worse folks, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s hard work. We really would like your support.
Many thanks to everyone that turned up and supported us. To our regular supporters who were too poorly to attend get well soon!

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The confiscated cup of coffee.
By the way Ashton Under lyne Jobcentre, please get your computers working properly. You expect claimants to use them everyday but they keep breaking down. It needs sorting out.
Note to G4s security guards. You have yet again forgotten that you are nor allowed, under the data protection act to handle claimants personal details or ask them for any information. We are watching you. You keep forgetting!