Food parcels gone in less than five minutes. Once again frustration and anger.

Today was yet another stressful demo. They usually are, but some weeks are worse than others because people are getting extremely fed up with being treated like they are sub human.

I arrived at Ashton Jobcentre at 9.55. I was five minutes early, and in those five minutes, I could gauge what the mood would probably be like.  The weather was awful, although not the worst that it has been and I felt cold.

Gordon arrived with the food parcels and the queue of people waiting around the Jobcentre for them started to approach us. I asked how they were, and how their situations were. One man told me that he was going to get some help later and he was taking a friend with him.

A lady that collects a food parcel every week looked a shadow of herself. She looked unwell and cold. I asked her if she was ok, and she told me that she thinks that she might have a chest infection. Poor woman, having to rely on food parcels and being unwell. The government are trying to suck the very life out of people. I gave her a hug and some supporting words. There’s not a lot more that I could do and that in itself is heartbreaking. I want to change things but I physically can’t.

I spoke to a young man fed up with the system. I said hello and asked him how he was. He’s a new face and I hadn’t seen him before. He said that ‘It was shit, they are shit and he is shit.’ He said with disgust that all they (the Jobcentre advisors) do is treat people like rubbish.’ All he wants is to be treated with respect and kindness. Such a basic requirement that is lacking.

I spoke to a WASPI lady who has to sign on every week. She’s not long off claiming her pension, and the anger at having to do this was very apparent in her eyes, that is when she looked up. A lot of people forced to use the Jobcentre avoid eye contact because they feel oppressed, targetted and have no confidence at all.

We spoke to a single father of children. He didn’t tell us how many but that isn’t the issue and nor should it be. He’s a good parent and doing his best for his children. He has been forced to claim universal credit, and he says that it has ruined his life.

He’s struggling to keep up with his job searches in between looking after his children, feeding his children has become a struggle and getting the Jobcentre to understand that he is a single father has been a nightmare. He went on to say that at last, they have reduced his job searching hours but that wasn’t without a struggle.

We gave him some much-needed solidarity and advice, made sure that he had food to take home and his mood lightened. He and others should not be living like this. The stress that he is feeling will be passed inadvertently to his children. I fear that even if this horrendous regime was stopped tomorrow, the effects would last for generations to come.

We attempted to speak to a young man who was furious last week. He returned this week, and he was angry but not as much as last week if that makes sense. You need to understand that even though he’s directing his anger at us, his anger is really meant for the DWP and the government. I think that he will speak to us in a few weeks, and I’m not easily swayed so I’ll wait.

Two young men walked in the Jobcentre walked in saying that they’ll never get sanctioned… ok… let’s see how that goes. We will be there to help them when something does happen to them. It’s very easy to be young and confident in situations like this. The system is created to destroy people though and we always keep that in mind as should you.

I had a lovely conversation with a lady who we had helped previously. She thanked Roy for the advice that he had given her. She also said that the survival guide has been a godsend to her. Today she just wanted to chat about how awful the government is. She pointed out that it isn’t fair that the government gave a billion pounds to the DUP whilst people are suffering. Nor is it fair that the sanctioning system exists. It’s cruel and kills people she said, and she is sadly correct.

Whilst talking to her she brought up a very good point, one that I have also been making this week when I and fellow blogger Kate Belgrave were having during a little rant that I had on Twitter this week. The Point was, that whilst all of Jeremy Corby’s policies and speeches were brilliant and are brilliant, they are still lacking in something. People like the lady that I was speaking to don’t feel like they are being adequately represented. They still feel left out of everything and are really wanting to be represented. Like she said, “I may not be working but I still deserve representation because I am a person and I do matter”. Well said to her. She does matter and I will continue to push this point across.

We spoke to many people today about so many issues, all important to each and every person, we never forget this because in my eyes they are all heroes for managing to survive this pernicious system.

Many thanks to all the team for coming along today and helping those who are in desperate need. Christine, Roy, Gordon, John, Gerry and Mervyn you are all amazing. Sue, who couldn’t make it today because she is unwell, get well soon we missed you.  I am blessed to have you all by my side.

I didn’t take any photos today for a few reasons. It was raining, I was busy and using my camera phone really isn’t an option anymore because it’s worse than useless. I will hopefully take some photos next week.

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Big shout out to DPAC for their ongoing support, solidarity and their amazing week of action this week. You all rock, and if I could be there, you know that I would be with you.

Another massive shout out for my comrades at Preston New Road protesting against the unwanted fracking plant being constructed there. This is being built without Lancashire councils approval and also without the local resident’s approval. You are all heroes, and you have no idea of how proud I am to have you as friends and comrades. I love you all.

Please read, share and talk about this blog. It’s important that we keep up this conversation, the government want us to go away and we refuse to.

Please donate help keep the blog and campaign going. This has become a full time job for myself, and anyone spending any time with me will attest to that. Thank you!

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For anyone that’s interested, I’m speaking at the NUJs meeting this month and will be talking about the boycott The Sun petion that I started after the Manchester bombings. It’s free to attend and is at the Three Minute Theatre, Aflecks Palace Manchester 2pm. As a member of the NUJ it should be an interesting and lively discussion!

Today’s demo. Food parcels taken immediately, anger, frustration and a visit from a French film maker. 

To say that today’s demo was busy is an understatement. It was both hectic and stressful. We also got a fair bit of verbal abuse from passers by.  Today was one of those days. 
As soon as I arrived I met the lovely man who is making a film about the awful DWP system in the UK. We had a quick discussion about what he was wanting to do. He also explained to me that the French government might be thinking of implementing a similar system. Awful. He’s against this. 
Gordon was taking the food parcels out of his car boot. As soon as he took them out they were all taken. We had none left at 10.05…. This says a lot to me. A stark reminder that far too many people are suffering. 

As soon as they had been taken a man arrived asking for a food parcel. They had all gone so I gave Gordon some money and he took him to the shop next door. Thank you Gordon. 

Then two more people arrived asking for food parcels. We had none and I was panicking slightly when I saw a member of the team, Pat arrive. She buys food from the cheap shop next door when she is able to come. Thank goodness for her because these people were able to have food. 

The need was greater than ever today.  The government and this cruel system have taken the very soul out of the people from my local town. No wonder it’s run down. Lack of funding from the government and lack of money for the basics ensures that the community suffers greatly and it breaks my heart. 
As we were talking to each other, a man stood across the way started shouting abuse at us for no reason at all. I understand his anger, he might have thought that we worked for the DWP or something. However he didn’t give us a chance to explain. I hope that he’s OK and that he’s getting the support that he needs. No one should be driven to feel that amount of anger. 
We spoke to a lovely man who has £4.50 to last him for two weeks. He took a food parcel from us last week and he was given another this week. 

He’s a lovely, polite man who had worked all his life. Seeing him in this state is awful though. His confidence has gone, he can’t wash his clothes and is struggling to keep going. He told us that we are his lifeline at the moment. We regard him as a friend. 
We spoke to a lady who had attempted to go in the Jobcentre and support her friend for her first interview with her advisor. She was wrongfully told that she wasnt allowed to do this, so we informed her friend of her right to do so. 

It might appear petty, but the breaking of these rules by the DWP sets the standard of how the claimant will be treated by that advisor. If they are aware that a person is not aware of their legal rights regarding Job searches etc then they will run roughshod over them. My advice to anyone having to make a claim is to research your legal rights and stand firm. 
Too many WASPI ladies were having to use the Jobcentre today. This always upsets me. The government has basically conned them out of their right to a decent retirement and pension. 
We had a person in a car drive past shouting “Get a job”…. As if we haven’t heard that before. Funny how they don’t get out of their cars and say it, they shout it and dive away at speed. 
I spoke to a lovely chap that I had helped in the past. He was looking much better and he wanted to say thank you. It was lovely seeing him. 
A lovely man started talking to us about the awful treatment that he had received from Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre and the DWP.  He was very vocal about it, good on him. He is in between jobs and only wanted to ask one question. He was refused that. This is how petty the Jobcentre is. 

He also went on to tell the film maker how awful it is inside the building and how the security guards are, as he described ‘like the Gestapo’. He’s not wrong there. 

He told us that his partner lives in London and her payment had been stopped for no apparent reason. She hasn’t received a letter which is usual. She’s got children, so the children might not be able to eat this week. It’s beyond disgusting. 

We gave him a leaflet which has a number for the Greater Manchester Law Centre. He is phoning them to get the details of local organisations in London that can help her. They are very pro-active there, and so is this man. 
We spoke to a man who sadly is in the belief that he will get his Esa for life. I hope that he does, but the chances of that aren’t high. 
Almost everyone that had to use the Jobcentre were rushing, looking at the ground on misery. This is what the system does to you. It stresses you out and wears you down. It literally never ends. 
Today was stressful, lots of different issues were brought to light. It’s hard work, and anyone that has attended our demos will attest to that. 
Before the demo started I bought a tent for a homeless chap that I buy a coffee for every day. His tent had been destroyed by someone and the local organisations had none. I hope that he is safe tonight. 
As for myself, I haven’t stopped and I apologise for the extra blogs. 

Please spare a thought for each and every person forced to endure this cruel system. And while Ian Duncan Smith still states that the film I, Daniel Blake is a work of fiction, I can say that it is not. The reality is even worse than the film. One day I will tell him so. 

Please share my blog, talk about it, tell your friends. Thank you
There’s also a donate button below. This has become a full time job for myself and every penny counts. Thank you so much.

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Also a MASSIVE thank you to all the team for being amazing and really going out of your way to help people. You are all fantastic. 

Thank you oncw again. 

It’s not fair. Daniel Blake died I have to live this hell. 

I promised a long time ago that I wouldnt post more than two blogs per week, it’s too much and people will get fed up. I changed my mind today though after a conversation with a man that I know. 
Recently an acquaintance of mine got sanctioned. He’s not well and had missed an appointment. Some would say that this is his own fault, but when someone isn’t well enough to work and are deemed fit then this will happen a lot. It’s inevitable and allowances should be made but they aren’t are they. 

Anyway last week both his friend who lives nearby and myself were trying to keep him going. He was very depressed and angry, not a good combination. It’s a sad fact that because of circumstances like these the suicide rates for men are continuing to rise every year. 

His friend spent a lot of time with him, I met him for a coffee and had a good chat. It seemed to help and he is now in a much better place. Thank goodness for that because I and his friend were worried. 

Today on the walk to school to pick my daughter up I saw his friend. It was pouring down with rain and he stopped to say hello. He went on to tell me his story. 

He’s an older man, and in constant pain. So much pain that he has to take large amounts of painkillers to just get by. And he’s angry, very angry. 

He had failed his medical, appealed and failed that also. He said “How the hell can I work? I’m in constant pain, I have to take painkillers that make me sleepy.” Now he has to go through the whole rigmarole of signing on and doing endless job searches. 

He told me that every day is hell. He wakes up not wanting to be here. The sooner he dies the better he says. 

He stated and quite rightly so, that how can it be fair that big corporations don’t pay their taxes, the prime minister says that we have to ensure austerity but at the same time she gives the DUP £1 billion. To day he’s angry is an understatement. And I totally agree with him. 

I asked him if he had seen the film I Daniel Blake. He said yes, he had and that it was rubbish. To be honest I was puzzled by his reply but he expanded on it. 

He told me that it’s rubbish because Daniel died, it’s not fair he said. Why couldn’t that have happened to him he wanted to know. It’s the best way out of the system and most likely the only way out for many. 

He didn’t think that the film was rubbish, far from it. But he was envious that Daniel had died. 

What kind of a society do we live in that makes a person feel envious of another person’s death, even if it was fictional? 

Every day people wake up in the sad realisation that they are still alive and they have to cope for another day. 

As the gentleman said to me, one day there will be a massive enquiry into the deaths and suffering inflicted on thousands upon thousands each day. 

One day we will hold them accountable for their actions. Some of us, including myself are brave enough to do so. Because we are angry and have nothing so have nothing anyway so have nothing to loose. 

We can do this. 

And please spare a thought for each and every person feeling disappointed that they are still alive every day when they open their eyes. Their suffering is real, but it shouldn’t be like this. 

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Exclusion and life below the poverty line. 

Hi folks, I’m writing an extra blog in response to feedback given to me on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I put out the question ‘Would anyone like an extra blog per week, something a bit different to the posts about the demos’. The response was unanimous. A big yes, if I have the time so here it is. 
One subject that I am constantly reminded about is exclusion.

 I know that this will also be familiar to my readers also, but at times it can be blatantly obvious, and at other times not so obvious. 

Before I start writing further, I should explain my position to anyone that isn’t aware. I have no magic money tree, I’m just like you, like millions of people living in the uk. 

I’m a single parent, I live way below the poverty line and have had first hand experience of the DWP system and illness. LIfe isn’t easy for most of us, but I’m not complaining even though I should complain more. I have a wonderful daughter and amazing friends. At times I must try their patience. 
Exclusion comes in many forms, and anyone living in poverty wether it be relative poverty or absolute poverty will experience this, although the severity of it does differ. To put it bluntly the less money that you have, the less you can do. 

I hear friends talk about trips out, I’m sure that you do too, it’s lovely to hear about their adventures, but a the same time it serves as a reminder that apart from local free days out in reality its not an option. 
The  other week I had to pay for a school trip for my daughter. Parents will be familiar with this scenario. The children are excited about the prospect of a day out with their friends, whilst we go into a state of dread and panic worrying about how we are going to pay for this. Many children don’t go, their parents keep them at home. And the school system punishes the child for having time off school. They won’t get their 100% attendance award, a punishment on top of their missed day out. 
As an adult being poor also excludes you from trips to the nearest biggest town, clothes shopping, doing what I call ‘big shops’ yes, Peter Kay is correct in stating that we say these things. I also say ‘big light’. I’m a northern lass and proud of it. Bus fare in my area is very expensive, so the only option is to walk unless you are lucky enough to have a bike. 
Trips to the Cinema, or ‘Pictures’ as I still call it are totally out of the question, going out for a drink is also and having a meal in a restaurant is the stuff of dreams. And yes we do dream about being able to do these things. 
A trip to the Supermarket, if it’s in walking distance becomes an obstacle course in itself. For many people, especially those living in rural areas, there isn’t any choice in where they shop. So they time it for when the yellow stickers go on the food. Believe me it can be a challenge trying to get the bargains that have been reduced, but when you do you hold onto them like they are gold, afterall they can keep a family from hunger for the week. 

It’s not just about material things though, although they do matter. Alongside this comes the loneliness, the isolation and the knowledge that you are ‘different’ than others around you. Taking part in something positive to do can stop a person from spiriling down into the depths of depression. But we just have to accept that we can’t do these things even though we would like to. And small things do matter. 
Friends become fewer, opportunities become fewer and health often becomes worse. 

With a poor diet, illness often accompanies it. It’s no surprise that there has been a return of victorian illnesses such as Rickets in children because children just don’t get access to a varied diet, and the sunlight that’s needed to prevent this. 

Adults and children have to deal with illnesses such as depression, anemia, insomnia, hypothermia, malnutrition, anxiety and many more besides. Whilst the government is busy selling off the NHS to the likes of Richard Branson, the demand is getting higher. We won’t be able to afford medical insurance it’s not an option. 


Why am I writing this you may ask? Everyone must know all this? The reality is, no not everyone does know this. The Tory Party is aware of this but choose for their selfish reasons to ignore it and make it purposely worse. There’s no use in asking for them to be sympathetic. They re created this cruelty in a very conscious way. 

I’m writing this to raise awareness, for people to be a little more understanding of each other. 

The next time a child’s parent’s can’t pay a school trip, don’t criticise and moan about it, instead understand the reasons why they can’t pay. No parent actually wants to exclude them from a school trip, and if a child gets a subsidised place, good on them, don’t hold it against that child or parent. It takes a lot to admit to a school that they can’t afford to pay for a school trip. 

If a child arrives at school in a less than pristine uniform show compassion instead of criticism. Ask the school if they can start a school uniform clothes bank. Some schools already have these. 

If a friend can’t join you for a night out, or a trip to the cinema, don’t show off about it in front of them, nor should you talk about them behind their backs. Instead ask them how they are feeling and be a good friend. 

If a person is hungry show them where the nearest food bank is, or offer compassion. Compassion costs nothing. If you can buy them a sandwich then that might just make them feel human again. Giving someone hope will also do this. 

People shouldn’t be tossed aside because they supposedly dont ‘fit in’. Everyone is important, and so are their right to a decent standard of living. 

More and more people are excluded from housing, vulnerable people left on the streets to beg whilst low funded organisations try and help them, try to keep them safe and feed them. The government has completely absolved themselves from any responsibility, nor do they care about how many people die as a result. 
People are made to feel worthless, subhuman and unimportant by the DWP system of sanctioning and failed medicals which are still being conducted by the likes of Atos. People are dying everyday as a result, but the government just shrug their shoulders and look the other way. 

A WASPI lady committed suicide after the general election because she felt stressed, unworthy and unwanted. Isolated at a time when she should have been enjoying her retirement. Once again the government don’t care. 
On Friday I had to travel to Manchester, something that I don’t do as regularly as I used to. I had to use the public loos and I started a conversation with two young homeless women. They were lovely women, bright, bubbly and friendly. They told me about their life on the streets, and the difficulties they face every day. Both told me that they had been begging all morning and hadn’t got any money, they needed a pound so I gave it to them. They also needed a hairbrush so I gave them mine. I got hugs from them, and smiles that I haven’t seen for a long time. I couldn’t change their situation, but a little bit of kindness gave them hope that people do care. And thats all it takes sometimes. 
In an ideal world we would have a society that wouldn’t exclude anyone, where everyone would have a home, money in their pocket, food and have the support that they need. It’s called socialism and this country is crying out for it. 

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Today’s demo. Sunshine and stress. 

Well I don’t know where to start today. To say that it’s been busy is an understatement, so I will start at the beginning because it’s a good place to start. 

For a change it was sunny and warm. You might not realise the difference that this makes. It’s hard enough doing these demos and the bad weather always makes things worse. 

As I was enjoying my previous demo cuppa, which has become a ritual to myself I received a message. We had extra food parcels on the way and that lifted my mood. They had been passed on by a group called Street Treats and they do a weekly food stand in Manchester City Centre every Thursday starting at 7pm I think. They do this in piccadilly Gardens and use donated food from supermarkets. 

This put me in a better mood than I have been of late. Solidarity is out there and is appreciated. 
As I arrived the first delivery of food parcels arrived. Six had been dropped off and when I say that they were taken immediately I’m not kidding. They had all gone within ten minutes. A member of the team said that this was record time. 
As we were handing these out and chatting to people two lovely young researchers for BBC3 arrived. I had been expecting them, they are making a programme about young men and what it’s like to be unemployed etc. It will be a good programme and people won’t be exploited unlike channel 5 programmes. 
We spoke to a middle aged man who was very unhappy. He’s unemployed and has been forced to undertake a workfare placement at Sports Direct in a nearby town. 

Sounds OK you might think? Actually nothing about this is OK. Call me old fashioned if you like, but I’m a big believer in a good  day’s pay for a good  day’s work. People shouldn’t be exploited by these big business that can afford to pay their staff.. 

He told us that, quite rightly he had been promised payment of his travel expenses. It’s too far away for him to walk to. But this has been refused. Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre have told him that he won’t be getting his travel expenses until he gets a paid job with them. 

Well this is a new one to me, and quite obviously a made up rule. We advised him on how to challenge this. He was angry, both about being made to work for no pay but also he had to pay for the transport costs and he had no money. He told us that he wants a paid job but not this. 

A lovely man like this shouldn’t be exploited, no one should be. 
The second delivery of food parcels arrived and we took them to the Jobcentre doorway. Two went straight away to a man who has been told that he has got to live off £1.50 for two weeks. Without this food I really don’t know how he would survive. He was very dishevelled and stressed. Awful but as we are all too aware they don’t care. 
I spoke to a young lad, and looked after his bike whilst he went inside for his appointment. He was a lovely young man but was annoyed at the system. He told me that all he wants is to be given a decent chance in life and not a fake college apprenticeship. 
As we were talking to another person outside the Jobcentre a man walked up to us. I could see he was hungry, he was looking at the food parcels as if he hadn’t ate for a long time. 

He asked what we were doing and I said we were giving help, advice and food parcels out. I offered him one and he said yes. I gave him extra bread and he thanked us for our kindness. 
A lady that normally collects food parcels from us was half running up the street. She was later than usual and was worried that she was too late for her food parcel. When I told her that she wasn’t she smiled and the relief on her face was evident. We gave her extra bread as well. I’ve seen her in the library desperately scurrying away trying to find non existant work on the slow computers. My heart goes out to her. 
We tried to speak to a man who had been looking at the food parcels, and asked him if he wanted one. He said no, he had family. Too many people are living like this, and think that they don’t need one. It takes a lot for a person to swallow their pride and accept help, it’s very brave of them. 

We spoke to so many people today, it was constant. We didnt stop for one minute. A collegue was even handing out rhubarb that she had grown on her allotment. We have become a little community of people that are caring and put others first. I really do think the world of them all. 
As for myself it’s been a very busy week, stuck in meetings and the like which were all related to the demos and poverty. 

Many thanks to the hosts of all events for your kind hospitality. 

Also my friends have been amazing this week. To say that this is stressful is an understatement and each and every kind word means a lot. 

I still haven’t arrived home. I met my amazing friend Steve who works for Welfare Rights and had a cheap cuppa. He’s a very brave man and one of my mentors.  Moments like this are treasured. 

Also apologies if there are any mistakes in this week’s blog. I’m writing this in Ikea on my rubbish mobile so please be kind. 

Please read, share and talk about this blog. We still need to be talking about these issues. People are still dying, it hasn’t gone away although news about Brexit etc have taken over. 
I’m placing a donate button below also, if anyone would like to donate its easy to do so. 

It’s become a full time job for me and every share, tweet and donation really helps. Thank you! 

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Today’s demo. Rain, cold, frustration and a disabled man stranded in Ashton. Food parcels gone in 25 minutes.

Today was pretty grim to be honest. I’m sure that you are most likely fed up of me saying this now but it was. The weather was awful, rain was pouring down and it was cold. It felt more like autumn not summer.

The reason for my mood not being brilliant was simple. I had received a message saying that they thought that the demos aren’t going anywhere amongst other things.

I, and other members beg to differ. 

The demo has been happening for nearly four years now, every week, and there has never been a week off. We have helped countless numbers of people, advised them, fed them, prevented suicides and also we have and still do empower people to challenge the system. This is the best form of retaliation against the government that there is. It worked during the poll tax years, and it’s working now.

We also have started a countrywide movement, which is no mean feat and have created massive awareness both in this country and worldwide. So once again I disagree. 

Doing extra days was also mentioned. Yes these are already planned, but organising these isn’t easy because people have personal commitments. But I will keep you posted.

Rant over, I shall get back to today.

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Photo taken on a day when we had some decent weather.
The food parcels arrived, and the queue had already formed. Most were taken straight away, the last taken 25 minutes later.

The reasons for needing them vary from unfair benefit sanctions, to ESA medical failures. We are a rich country and for f###s sake, people should not be going hungry, especially when the government can afford to give the DUP £1 billion to bribe them into joining an immoral at best coalition so that they can remain in power.

People are dying but not many care!!

We spoke to a man that had been refused his ESA and the Jobcentre are refusing to acknowledge the reason for his sick note, of should I say ‘fit note’. What an inappropriate name. If you were fit you wouldn’t need one would you.

Because he had read our leaflet, he is challenging this as is off to Citizens Advice as I write this. The leaflets do help loads. Thanks Roy!
I spoke to a woman who was rushing off, she looed upset so I stopped her and asked her if she was ok. She said no, that she was hungry and was waiting for her money to come through. I offered her the last food parcel and some extra bread. She was overjoyed. We had given her hope.
We spoke to an older man, who told us he was disabled. He told us that he claims ESA, and we could see that he struggles to walk. His ESA hadn’t been paid to his account and he wanted the Jobcentre to help him. To make matters worse, he had travelled from Oldham and had no money for bus fare to return. He thought it would be like the old days and they would reimburse him.

They didn’t help him much except to tell him that they didn’t know why it hadn’t been paid. Their methods of communication astound me. They’d do better if they used a tin can with a string connected to another one wouldn’t they. But he was clearly upset because he didn’t know how he would get home.

We immediately did a collection and gathered the money together, and he asked how he would pay it back. We replied saying that we didn’t want the money back, we just want you to get home safely. I don’t think that he could quite believe that people could be so kind.
An elderly lady who had missed her pension and had been forced to sign on said hello to us. We have spoken to her on many occasions previously and we had helped her and showed her friendship.

Today was a good day for her though. This was the last day that she had to sign on, because she will be receiving her pension. We all gave a resounding cheer and I even did a little dance. I could see that she was happy, and I doubt that she will be going near a computer in the near future.

We gave lots of advice and leaflets out today. Like I’ve said the reasons are varied, young people struggling to get on the system, disabled people refused their rightful ESA benefits, women with babies and small children and older people. All are let down by the system that was originally put in place to support them. The benefit cap is having a massive effect on my town, and I suspect nationwide. It won’t be long before their evictions take place. I offer advice about this all the time in my everyday life and I wish that I had a magic wand but I don’t. It’s wrong that people are suffering like this, and babies are being punished because their birthday was after the cut off date. No child should ever go hungry, ever.

Remember folks, this government respects  no one but itself and it’s hunger to be in power. I’m positive that they will bring in more austerity measures that don’t need to be implemented. Austerity is a political choice not a necessity. 

And for as long as this continues I will be outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre whether people approve or not. It’s simple. People need help and I will give my help and advice, so will my colleagues who are a pretty amazing bunch of people, and I really do appreciate them all.

Together we can continue the fight as well as help others on the way!
Please read, share and talk about this blog. Doing that in itself is fighting back against the government.

A massive thank you to those that already do! I do appreciate you all. You are fab!

This has also become a full time job for myself, and if anyone would like to donate just click on the button below. Thank you!

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Food parcels gone in ten minutes, unhelpful Jobcentre staff. No surprise there sadly.

I arrived at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre as usual, and placed my bag in its usual place. I use it to carry our leaflets and anything else that might be required for the morning. I looked up and I must have been spotted from afar, because our usual recipients of the food parcels were waiting.

We spent a few minutes chatting, catching up with things and seeing if anything has progressed. Like last week, nothing much has, but they have taken our advice so  now it’s a waiting game.

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere outside the Jobcentre, but anyone who has joined us will tell you its hard work. Today we were battling with wind and heavy rain at one point. I’m not complaining but I’m highlighting this because many of the people that we speak to really can’t dress appropriately for the weather, nor can they afford to. The weather also affects the mood of the place, and the mood certainly wasn’t optimistic.

Gordon arrived with the food parcels and the majority didn’t even touch the ground. It’s shocking that this is the case. And before anyone says that I shouldn’t be surprised, I’m not. I’m bloody furious that anyone should have to live like this.

It’s hard enough being poor without having to rely on food parcels to keep you going. It makes people feel that they’ve lost all hope, that there’s nothing to aim for and that they’ve lost their dignity. People do feel this way, they tell me. Some are ashamed and hide round corners so that they aren’t seen. Can you imagine what it feels like to feel so bad that you have to do this? I can tell you it’s heart breaking. They feel abandoned by society, the very system that they’ve paid into has let them down.

Due to high demand, the food parcels went within ten minutes. I had to double check the time. I’m angry that people are having to use them. Every person deserves three good meals a day, a home to live in and the security of some kind of income. It’s not just adults that are suffering, children are too and unborn children. In my eyes that’s totally unforgivable.

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Ian Duncan Smith, and every Tory MP and minister that has helped to implement this regime, I and others will never forget the cruelty that you have purposely imposed on the most vulnerable in society. it’s wanton cruelty on an industrial scale. Austerity has always been a political choice not a necessity.

My colleague was approached by a woman who hadn’t received her fortnightly payment. She hadn’t been sanctioned, and nothing untoward could be seen on the computer screen. Now I remember the days when an advisor would make a simple phone call on behalf of the claimant to find out why. It’s not hard, and still it still can be done. Instead they told the lady that they weren’t going to phone up, she had to phone the number herself. This is totally unreasonable, because the lady might not have been able to if she had no credit for your phone. Also keep in mind that actions like this are enough to send someone over the edge. We see this a lot. And it’s cruel, not to mention expensive.

I spoke to a lady waiting for her young son who had to attend an appointment. She told me that he was very quiet, and wasn’t good at communicating. I’m sure that he’s the type of person that the DWP like to target for sanctions and other such things. She had asked if she could go in with him, but the G4S security guard said that she couldn’t. I’ve two issues with this. 1, her son is clearly vulnerable and he is allowed representation at appointments, 2. A G4S security guard has no place telling her what she can and can’t do. So yes they are up to their old tricks again. I’ll be watching them.

We spoke to a lady who had been very ill and had missed her PIP appointment. There’s no way that she could deal with the world, all she wanted to do was hide away from the world. I totally understand that. We offered her advice, gave her a leaflet and I think that she felt a bit more confident. ESA and PIP assessments are awful, no one should have to live like this. It’s cruel and akin to mental torture. Having a black cloud of uncertainty hanging over your head all the time isn’t good for anyone’s mental health.

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We spoke to a man who had previously taken one of our leaflets. He wanted to thank us. He said that the information on it was very good, and he had used it to appeal against a sanction. He went on to say that he had got the £307 back from the DWP and this was all down to the leaflet. He kept saying thank you, and you know what this is what it’s all about isn’t it. This is exactly why we do what we do. This is why I have been standing outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for almost four years now. For those criticising us, we do make a difference.

I make no apology about mentioning myself on this blog. Someone complained about this last week. The blog is my blog, it’s about the weekly demos, our activities, but it’s also my blog. I enjoy writing it and if I get fed up I shall say so.

It’s not easy witnessing the loveliest people that you know being systematically destroyed by a government that doesn’t care. People are destroyed by this system, families torn apart, people commit suicide because they can’t take any more suffering. Believe me we’ve seen it all here, and most likely will do in the future.

In Victorian times, the rich didn’t know what to do with the poor, but they didn’t want them spoiling their view, so they created Workhouses. A place of fear and dread. Light penetrated through windows that were designed so you couldn’t see out of.  Food was the very minimal amount, just enough to keep you alive, but only just.

Inmates were there to be exploited. Families torn apart, unable to see each other due to segregation. Long, hard days of labour ensued, which the workhouse and businesses associated with them profited from.

Poor people were seen as expendable labour. They weren’t respected and to be honest there wasn’t anything such as the ‘good old days’ there. A person could only leave if they found employment, near impossible when they were working long days for their master.

I’ve covered the subject very briefly there, but my point is this. The situation that we are in now isn’t much different. Read through it again and compare. It’s scarily similar.

We shouldn’t accept this as the norm, it certainly isn’t. Hopefully soon there will be a positive change and I’m praying for that every day.

Many thanks to Pauline for the food parcels, Street Treats for the bananas and bread, and to the lovely gentleman who dropped off some bits. We really do appreciate it.

A massive thanks to EVERYONE that attended today and to those that couldn’t due to illness. You are all amazing, and for those that are ill get well soon!

Please share my blog, talk about it or donate if possible. It’s really appreciated and it has turned into a full time job for me, which also makes me very sad and angry..

One day we will have a better world for everyone to live in.

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