Sanctioned for being a minute late, threat of sanction for being two minutes late. todays demo.

 

Today we had been hoping for warmer weather. Although the rain had stopped and the sun was lurking behind the clouds it was still freezing cold. I can’t wait for the warmer weather to arrive.

On the way to the demo I was stopped by a lovely couple that we have been helping. They didn’t need any help today, but they just wanted to say hello. That was really lovely of them to do this.

As I arrived at the Jobcentre, I noticed that several people had been waiting for us to arrive. They were waiting for their food parcels. Sadly we never received any food parcels this week, so a member of the team went to the shop next door and bought some basics. We should hopefully have some food parcels next week to hand out.

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A man stopped me and told me that he had just been told that he was going to be sanctioned for being a minute late. Yes you heard right, a minute.

As usual the DWP showed their typical lack of compassion. We gave advice on what they needed to do next.

It’s unbelievable isn’t it. Mind you, a while ago a woman was sanctioned for being five minutes early. Yes early. So you see folks, you can never get it right and the system is set out to fail you. But of course, we already know this don’t we.

A disabled lady and her daughter then walked out of the Jobcentre. They were not happy. She had taken advantage of the legal right to have representation whilst attending her appointments. It seems that the Jobcentre advisor took offence to this.

The younger of the two ladies was disabled, as was the older, her mother whom accompanied her with a walking frame. The younger lady had failed her ESA (Employment Support Allowance) medical. Of course her advisor didn’t inform her of her legal right to appeal, how to do this and what the process entails. Nope. They told her that she had to make a new claim for JSA (Jobseekers Allowance) instead and to do it quickly. They made her an appointment for the next day.

Her advisor also told her that it would be better if she wasn’t accompanied (we know exactly why this was suggested), and that she would have to attend an appointment upstairs. There is no lift and she cannot walk up the stairs. You can imagine their reaction can’t you.

We advised her on appropriate action, of how to lodge a mandatory reconsideration, what to do, and we also advised her on what to say to the Jobcentre staff on arrival for her appointment tomorrow.

She is to attend with her mother as planned, and she is to insist that her mother will accompany her. She will also state the equalities act, and to note that they have to, by law, take into account her disability. They seemed determined and I’m sure that they will do this.

A man then walked, or I should say shuffled out of the Jobcentre. His face was pointing at the floor and he was clearly upset.

I stopped him and enquired as to what was wrong? Why was he so upset?

He told me that he is disabled and had been homeless. He has just been placed in temporary accommodation at the local Travel Lodge. He wants to build his life up again.

He became disabled when he fell from a wall and broke his back. He is in constant pain. He showed me his prescription. My heart went out to him.

He had no food, so we sorted that out. A member of the team took him to buy some food from the shop next door, and another member phoned our local MPs office up to get him an appointment straight away. Thankfully the MP for our area is Angela Rayner and it was arranged for him to see CAB and also a member of her team.

He became much happier and thankfully we have a fantastic MP. I regularly send people to her for help, because if anyone has any problems with the DWP ta word from an MP can and does work wonders.

Now you don’t want me to tell you how awful this is, because you already know how awful it is. But these stories aren’t uncommon, and you aren’t on your own. Sadly its become the norm to be suffering in some way now.

We have finally finished our survivors guide now and we are doing a print run with the last of our money. This will be money well spent.

This week has been an extremely busy week. Myself and two other women have been helping a lady that I met at the Jobcentre. She had become very ill, and certainly was not getting the care that she needed.  The good news is that she is now in hospital, and hopefully we will find her appropriate accommodation. Seeing someone become that ill is always upsetting.

To be honest it never stops, along with the writing (unpaid) meetings and issues that I have to deal with sometimes I don’t know if I am coming or going sometimes!

 

Some photos that I have taken on a borrowed camera. It’s a very good one, and one day if I strike lucky I shall have a camera like this to take photos on.

 

Next week is the  Unite National Day Against Sanctions. As usual we will be outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre handing out advice and food parcels. We do this EVERY week, not just on national days of action.

It would be wonderful if you could join us. 10-12 Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old Street Ashton Under Lyne. We are a friendly bunch of people.

I hate having to do this, but please can anyone donate? We aren’t sponsored by anyone and we have spent our last funds on printing leaflets. We would be very thankful and it wouldn’t be wasted. I too am on a very low income, and am living from day to day. Don’t believe Donald Trump and the likes…. We certainly are not paid! Thank you!

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Demo day yet again. Food parcels disappear very quickly. Extremely busy. 

This week has been a rather strange week for me. The days have passed extremely quickly for some unknown reason. Thursday arrived very quickly. 

We were hoping for better weather, but as usual it was freezing cold. There always seems to be a breeze coming round the corner and from within the Jobcentre. Maybe it’s emanating from the hate that the DWP have of us helping people outside. They’ve certainly made that very clear over the years. 

The food parcels arrived on time and there was already a queue forming. This is getting very regular now. I posted on Facebook that they had arrived and then they had left straight away. 

Had a chat with some of the folk that we see regularly. It’s important that we keep up to date with how they are. No one looked happy today, but thats very understandable. 

It was non stop. A constant stream of advice, signposting and handing out leaflets. Anyone that stands with us can attest for how busy it gets. 

We helped with bus fare for a couple that had to go to an urgent appointment in a different town. How on earth can officials ask people to attend meetings when they have no means of getting there? Not many seem to have any comprehension of this. 

There were many complaints of how awful the system is, but how glad that they are that we are outside helping. We’ve been speaking to one chap every week for three years now. 

We’ve completed our draft of our survival guide leaflet, which we are hoping to get printed asap. This will prove to be invaluable as it’s a step by step guide which is exactly what people need. Thanks to Roy one of our members for helping with this, I think I’ve driven him mad! 

Spoke to a lady that is escaping domestic violence. She’s really going through it, but is accessing the help that she needs to get through this. She knows where to find me if she needs me. 

Spoke to a family very briefly who have not long arrived in this country. Lovely people and they had good representation. I wish them all the best with their new life’s, and the best of luck! 

Some bad news, a lady that we have been helping for a long time has been taken ill and many thanks to a comrade for visiting her today. I will be spending the day with her tomorrow to try and persuade her to get the help that she needs. This has really upset both myself and the team. We will be keeping a close eye on her. 

As for me, well I’m trying to keep my head above water. I’m sure all readers will totally understand this. 

Just because I and others campaign doesn’t mean that we are well off. We aren’t and I have more bad weeks than good weeks. For example I’m on the emergency electric, and once that goes well it’s gone. So it might take a while to get back to you.

Big sigh of relief this week in reaction to the government doing a u turn on the self employed tax decision. Now I’m worried about where they will decided to take the money from. 

Massive shout out to the anti fracking campaigners at Preston New Road near Blackpool. After Lancashire County council ruling that they weren’t allowing fracking in their area, the government simply overruled it and went ahead. As a result they are campaigning hard and putting everything at risk to do this. I stand in awe. 

Big shoutout to the amazing Pauline that gives us the food parcels as part of the we shall overcome campaign. We really appreciate it and we really need them. We often go out and buy extra and like I’ve mentioned before, we fund other things if they occur. 

The saddest sight of today was a gentleman that happened to be walking past us as we stood outside the Jobcentre. He was dressed in raggedy ill fitting clothes. Hair unkempt, with two walking sticks, an arm sling tossed onto his back because he was struggling to hold his other walking stick and a bag. He looked like he had stepped straight out of a Charles Dickens book. He didn’t want to talk, he shuffled off to his destination. 

He just summed up how badly the Tory Government are treating the poorest and most vulnerable in this country. They’ll stop at nothing to punish these people, just because they can and they see them as an easy target.

I’m sure that this is not an unusual sight for my readers, however it doesn’t make it unworthy to write about either. 

I will be spending tomorrow visiting and helping  a lady whom we have been helping that is very ill. Maybe Saturday also. Who knows. All I know along with comrades is that she needs lots of help. 

Please donate if you possibly can. It’s not easy campaigning and we are making a difference. We feed, empower and enable people to survive the awful DWP system. We have save life’s, and this is not an understatement. We are a person’s first port of call when they are feeling awful, stressed and sometimes suicidal. We are hands on, and deal with issues as and when they happen. I’m also struggling also, but you all know that.  Many thanks to those that have already. Thank you!

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Today’s demo. Solidarity, sunshine and freezing temperatures. Food parcels gone as soon as they arrived. Nine handed out. 

This morning I am guilty of having a slight meltdown myself on my twitter feed. I checked my bank account and it said zero balance. Not good, but I could manage and I’m not asking for sympathy. But it was a shock and I woke with a start at 4am. 

Today can only get better I said to myself and it did. 

Anyway I digress. On Tuesday I met a lovely lady whom we had been helping at the demo.

 She was in the process of sorting her claim out, and had been relying on food parcels and various places where she could get a free hot meal. She had access to local facilities but holds a great deal of trust with us. People go to whom they trust sometimes. 

She had ran out of food, and because she’s particularly vulnerable I arranged to buy her some basic essentials to keep her going. It felt good being able to do that. She’s amazing. 

She told me that she was due her first benefit payment on Thursday, which is today. Today she found me at the Jobcentre and said that she had received her payment and she was going to buy myself and my daughter a cuppa. She’s over the moon, so happy and I’m happy for her. That’s a big weight lifted from my shoulders. I was very worried about her. 

I bumped into  another lady I have been helping for a long while now. She had become empowered and was fighting the system. 

She rightfully wanted the money that she is entitled to that has been denied for so long. They had given her a proper run around. They like to do this. 

They eventually agreed to pay her her money but had said that she wasn’t going to get all of the backpay that they owed her. 

She had done her homework and managed to get all her backpay.  She’s become totally empowered and I’m very proud of her. This is what it’s all about and the government hates it. 

I arrived at the Jobcentre at 10am and already there were three people waiting for the food parcels. Two new faces. 

I had a chat with them and signposted them for the help that they need. I also advised them myself. 

It wasn’t long before more people waiting for food parcels arrived. By the time that the food parcels had arrived they had all been spoken for. These are all people in need. No one asks for a food parcel unless they are needed. It’s a last resort. 

A lovely lady whom I had been speaking to on Twitter arrived with three food parcels. They went as soon as they arrived. She had seen my call out for help via Twitter. She also gave us £4 towards cuppas for everyone. 

She couldn’t believe how hard it is standing outside helping people. It really is cold. The atmosphere can be frosty from within the Jobcentre also. 

I spoke to a man that I hadn’t seen for a while. He said the system has made him really ill. The DWP staff are being awful to him and he thinks that he’s facing a sanction. I advised him, gave him a food parcel and reassured him that we will ensure that we will do everything that we can to help him. 

Chatted  to another man. I have spoken to him previously and he trusts me. He also said that the system has made him ill. Admittedly he doesn’t look well. 

I advised him to go and see his doctor and chatted to him to ensure that he is receiving everything that he should be. He is, but I advised him to go on ESA because he clearly isn’t well. I advised him on how to do this etc. 

Today, we also held our demo in solidarity with International Women’s Day and the International Women’s Strike. 

So many women in our country are being affected by decisions made by those in power. Supporting this moment in my eyes is very important. We had a fantastic new banner which was made by Pat one of our members. 

I was so happy to have a local councillor join us today. What a lovely surprise. Thanks to all the local councillors that cant be  with us but do send their support to us, also my local MPs. I’m lucky to have some really good ones. A message of solidarity means so much! 

Some say that I shouldn’t complian about my issues. Some  say they aren’t important and I shouldn’t be looking for sympathy. Maybe they aren’t but I do this to enable people to see what life is like for a skint single parent campaigner. We don’t get paid, despite what Donald Trump says. I shan’t apologise for doing this. Life is tough. 

Many thanks to Pauline and we shall overcome for the food parcels, and the lovely lady from Twitter that also donated three. 

Massive shout out to the amazing anti fracking campaigners down at Preston New Road near Blackpool. They are getting beaten daily by the police in the quest to keep our water clean. Solidarity! If you can go and join them all are welcome. I love them all. 

My daughter symbolically sweeping austerity and poverty away. Replacing it with love. She was sent home from school yesterday due to a virus but is feeling much better now. She’s been involved in peaceful activism since approximately the age of six. She’s very good at it, and is very wise and caring. I hope that she does great things when she’s older. 

Please donate if you possibly can. It’s not easy campaigning and we are making a difference. We feed, empower and enable people to survive the awful DWP system. We have save life’s, and this is not an understatement. We are a person’s first port of call when they are feeling awful, stressed and sometimes suicidal. We are hands on, and deal with issues as and when they happen. I’m also struggling also, but you all know that.  Many thanks to those that have already. Thank you!

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My latest article in The Morning Star. Do the maths. 

Whilst I and many others help vulnerable people when they have been sanctioned, whilst the DWP are planning to shut down Jobcentres in the guise of saving money. I did the maths and  asked this question. 

I do not get paid for my submitted articles. 
https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-5e7b-Are-benefit-sanctions-only-about-cutting-costs#.WLkYb6CnxSB

Please donate if you can. Myself and the team work very hard both campaigning on the street and I do alot of unseen work. It’s a full time job. I cant stand to see anyone suffer. Thank you!
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Today’s demo. Food parcels going at a record rate, overwhelmed with issues and cold weather. 

Today’s demo as usual started at 10am when I arrived. Already waiting for me were a few people awaiting their food parcels. I hate having to make people wait, but it was only a few minutes and I spent the time talking to them to see if there was any updates on their situations. The queue grew larger and for those not believing me I will post a photo below. 

The first couple that I spoke to are very vulnerable. The lady is heavily pregnant and is due her baby in approximately four weeks. We have helped her as much as possible and she is now waiting for her money to arrive in her bank which will hopefully be Thursday, but like they realise they can’t depend on this. 

They had ran out of electric and I couldn’t see her and a possible new baby go cold. It’s very cold at the moment. So I gave them money for electric and also the food parcel. 

They have been accessing all local help and are getting hot meals locally. I’ve really taken to this couple. Their situation is complicated and I admire their strength of character. She also has everything that they need for the baby. I’m awaiting positive news before next week’s demo. I often stop and talk to them during the week and have a cuppa with them. I know what it’s like I’ve been there. 

We had alot of people asking for advice regarding failed ESA medicals (Employment Support Allowance). I’ve noticed that alot more people locally are being failed recently and are being made to suffer because they are ill or disabled in some way. Advice was given, signposting given and solidarity. This is very important. 

A chap suffering from schizophrenia stopped to talk to us. He’s having a hard time, although it’s hard to say what exactly has happened. He isnt well and is struggling to remember and comprehend some things. He struggles with letters. But we advised him, showed him compassion and told him that he’s very welcome to come and chat to us at any time. He shouldn’t be punished because he is ill. His life is valuable. 

A street homeless chap joined us for a while. It was a pleasure speaking to him. He was a wealth of knowledge and is trying to sort his life put despite the DWP trying to mess it up. He said that he’s doing his best to stay strong and is accessing local help. He said that tries to travel to Manchester at some point in the week because there is more hep there for him. He realises that our town is only small, and he is concerned that Street homeless people are travelling from Manchester to Ashton and we don’t have the resources. He’s correct. He does advise them to stay in Manchester. I hope that he stays strong and we see him again next week. He told me that word had got round that we are a nice group of people and that we are easy to talk to and aren’t judgemental. 

We spoke to many people today, took a person for a cuppa with us after the demo and gave some help and advice. A really lovely person. 

On Tuesday we also did an extra pop up demo in support of a street homeless man who was badly treated by our local Housing Advice department. Their compassion is akin to that of Teresa May’s. Not many turned up but we were there and the solidarity was strong. 

My week has also been very busy, all unpaid. But it’s very important to get the word out there. I had an interview with RT news on one of their channels named Going Underground.

https://www.rt.com/shows/going-underground/378715-uk-public-committee-bafta/

They were fab and I think that it went well. 
I also had another article published in The Morning Star. I will also post a link to this also. 
https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/tb472df-charlotte-hughes

I had a fantastic interview with one of the amazing women from the brilliant Crossroads Centre in London. They do amazing work there and I always feel inspired to do more positive work after meeting and talking to them. One day I might be able to afford to spend a day in London and be able to visit their centre. 

I’ve also had lots of other issues to deal with and I haven’t stopped. To give an example my typical day this week has consisted of me leaving my home at 8.20 am for the long school walk and returning home with my daughter at around 6pm ish. For anyone that says activists are lazy, I’d like to see them spend a week as I do. 

I’m also arranging with the other women in out group an event for International Women’s week. We will be holding a banner in solidarity and maybe wearing something symbolic in solidarity. We haven’t decided as to what yet. This will show our support for the international women’s strike. 

I have managed, after a slight struggle to obtain tickets from my local Unite Community union branch for the transport via train to the NHS March in London on Saturday. Please note that it’s free and I am not loaded. We will be taking sandwiches.
My daughter is very keen on supporting this march, as am I. They saved my oldest daughters life on more than one occasion last year. 

I’m as tired as you can get, demands are high as times get harder. The team are extremely supportive but it’s hard work! But I love it. Helping others and empowering others to fight this vindictive government is the best medicine that I could ever have.
I’m also still struggling with technology so please be patient with me. For myself and most people that I know, we seem to be finding everything a struggle. But that’s life! 

Some of the Queue for the food parcels. Yes this does happen. We could stand there all day and constantly hand food parcels out. 

Please donate if you can. I’ve done much more than this this week, but I would bore you with all of that. It’s a full time job but I can’t abandon people that need help. We have become a necessity. As a result I’ve paid a big price, but I don’t expect sympathy it’s just the way that it is. 
Remember that every life matters, not just the ones that the government deem as being important! 

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Today’s demo. G4S bully boys and Storm Doris both making an appearance. Food parcels taken in less than 10 minutes. 

I’ll start today’s blog by describing the weather, because it certainly just about sums things up. Windy, raining and hostile. Certainly not favourable for holding our weekly demo. But still we soilder on. People need our support, it’s as simple as that. 

I arrived at 10am, completely resigned to having to be on my own. Weather warnings had already gone out, and I certainly didn’t want anyone to put themselves at risk. I wouldn’t expect it. 

As soon as I arrived the queue for the food parcels started. No one really wanted to be hanging around in this storm, especially the people needing them. I had to ask them to hang on a mo for them to arrive. 

It wasn’t long before Gordon arrived with them, by then a few people had gathered and most were handed out straightaway. All people desperate for some food. It makes me so angry that people are being made to suffer like this. 

A bit of good news though, one person that depends on a food parcel will be able to receive their pension soon, and another will be able to access their money in two weeks. 

The atmosphere was very busy, but also quiet. There wasn’t as many passers by today due to the storm, and people were going straight into the Jobcentre to try and shelter from the rain and wind. Of course the DWP staff were totally unsympathetic and made some go back outside and wait. They had full knowledge of the bad weather, they also have windows. They can see it. 

Anyway, we tried to have a chat with those wanting to speak. One man is struggling on a zero hour contract agency job. He’s finding it hard to get any kind of sympathy from anyone that holds any kind of authority anywhere. But we had a good chat and I signposted him. 

A new G4S security guard thought that he could ruffle our feathers by asking us to move away from the doors of the Jobcentre. We were not causing any obstruction, so he was given a short message from myself and my comrade. “No we aren’t moving, it’s our legal right to stand here”. He went back inside the Jobcentre rather quietly. I’m beginning to think that the G4S staff members now do this as some form of iniation ceremony for new members of staff. I find it rather amusing. 

On the way to the demo I made sure that I got 2 hot drinks for the two homeless men that I saw. No one should have to live like they do. This also makes me angry.

We finished early because it was becoming too dangerous. I wanted to make sure that everyone got home safely. But we did help alot of people today. And for 1 1/4 hours it was very eventful. 

I had a very short appearance on the Victoria Derbyshire show on Tuesday. It was biased towards the Tory Mp and I had hardly any air time. Anyway, I’m doing an interview with Rt news later today so will keep you informed of that. 

Here’s some photos taken before the storm picked up.

A massive thanks to all the team for turning up today I really didn’t expect it. Thank you! 

Please donate if you can or share. My income is extremely low, and this has become a full time job. I certainly didn’t realise that it would become this. Campaigners always sacrifice alot for their cause.  One day we shall overcome!

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Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre move. 

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre will be merging with Stalybridge Jobcentre, and moving into the brand new town hall that is being built in Ashton Under Lyne. 

Alongside the much scaled down library, it will apparently be the one stop centre for everything. Some will say that this is a good thing, but I happened to like the old library building. It has great historic value and the community makes good use of it. However, like many library’s up and down the country it’s being scaled down and becoming more digital. Great for those that have the technology, not so great for those that don’t. However, they say that they are going to be saving money, and its a done deal. So we will just have to see how it goes. I hope that the old library isn’t neglected, and left to go to ruin though. 

Anyway, I digress. Stalybridge Jobcentre and Ashton Jobcentre will be merging and both will be using this brand new building. This will be to the detriment of those that live in Stalybridge and surrounding areas, because Ashton Under Lyne is quite far away depending on what area of Stalybridge that they live in. Bus fares are also expensive. MPs in this area, really need to question this. I hope that they do. 

We, however will be moving with the Jobcentre. There is no date yet. There is a public street outside the entrance to where the Jobcentre access will be, so therefore the law will still permit us to continue our weekly peaceful protests where we hand out support, advice, help and food parcels. 

We might loose our shelter though, and the street is nicknamed “The windy tunnel”, so I suppose we will have to wrap up even more etc. 


Once again, many thanks for your support. It really does mean a lot. 

This campaign has sadly become a full time job for myself, so if you can, please donate or share! Thank you!
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