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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Today’s demo. Queue for food parcels, hungry people. Universal Credit hell. Welcome to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

I made my way to our weekly demo after dropping my daughter off at school. I like to have a cheap cuppa beforehand and people know that they can find me there.

I was excited at the prospect of good weather, yesterday had been roasting hot. Today was sadly different. It didn’t rain though, although the breeze was cold. I sometimes think that we are destined to have bad weather.

Roy had met me at the café and we walked over together. As we arrived we noticed the queue for food parcels, but it isn’t your typical queue. Many people needing help often feel embarrassed, so they don’t line up. Instead they wait around in various areas near the Jobcentre. Some are also scared that their Jobcentre advisor will see them.

The food parcels arrived, delivered by Gordon and the queue moved towards the car. To say that it’s awful that people are having to use food parcels is an understatement. But to see them waiting in shadows and round corners really breaks my heart. It’s very reminiscent of early Victorian England. Awful just awful.

We handed the food parcels out and had a chat with all of the people receiving them, to make sure that they are coping and awaiting hopefully positive news that their situations have improved. Sadly it hadn’t. I suppose I shouldn’t expect miracles.

We spoke to lots of people. Today’s common theme was Universal Credit and the horrors that come with that.

People are surviving on next to nothing or nothing. We heard the story of a woman, her husband and children who are surviving on next to nothing. They were forced to claim Universal Credit because last year her husband had been told to apply for it and had received a payment of £7. An absolute fortune.. not. So now they are left to survive on Universal Credit. They now work, but despite the government saying that they are making work ‘pay’ the reality is much different and horrific.

This is the letter that she showed me. it’s complicated but it’s awful. You can bet that they will be missing some meals this week. Work does not pay when you claim Universal Credit. It was created to create suffering and to make a person constantly feel subservient to a system that hates them. There’s no way out when full time, high paid jobs are as scarce as gold dust.

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For anyone not understanding the above photo, the amount of money that this lady is left to live on is at the bottom. She is not living on an absolute fortune, and is only just surviving. The way that Universal Credit is caluculated is complicated, and is far to hard to explain on here. 

We spoke to a man who’s also living on a zero income. He has had to make a new claim, and because he has educated himself to how the system works due to talking to us, he will survive. He will get a food parcel next week.

His story was that of his brothers. He is living on next to nothing because he is a new Universal Credit recipient. Because he had a loan taken out before he received his first payment he now has to pay it back. His situation is that his brother and his friend are now trying to share gas and electric, food etc. They are having to live in each others houses to be able to have electric and gas facilities. How awful is this. On top of this they are scared of the local housing association finding out. This is pressure that they don’t need.

We spoke to our friend, a man who we had helped for a long time. He is now receiving his work related pension, so isn’t struggling. He looks like a different person. The stress has disappeared from his face. But he still comes along to say hello. How lovely is that.

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I spoke to a homeless chap that we had been helping. He happily told us that he now has somewhere to live. That’s a massive weight off my mind and I’m so happy for him.

There seemed to be a lot of external organisations entering and leaving the Jobcentre today. One organisation, told us that he ‘helps’ people, although he had no idea of the plight of the jobseekers that they are supposed to be ‘helping’. No surprise there though is it. It’s all about the money isn’t it.

It was busy today, we spoke to lots of people, all either angry, upset or zoned out. Almost every single person that we spoke to had no money, or a very minimum amount of money, hardly enough to get by. We shouldn’t have to live like this.

It’s a culture of fear, and we have seen this for many years now. So yes it does get stressful, and these demos have certainly changed my life.

Today was also good though. Lots of comrades arrived to help out, and that really cheered me up. I love the team, they have helped keep my spirits up so much. They also help the people having to use the Jobcentre so much. Numbers were high and it was good! Thank you everyone! And thank you so much to our first time attendees! True solidarity in action. Thank you.

Many, many thanks to all my readers, supporters and everyone that sends me messages of support. When I say that it means a lot it really does.

Running this demo, writing the blog, and all the work that goes along with that has become a full time job. I can’t stop this campaign, it’s so important to so many people. But it is difficult.

Please can everyone reading this blog share it and talk about it?

Also I’ve placed a donation button below. If anyone would like to contribute I would be so grateful. It is a full time job for me and it does get stressful. Thank you so much!
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Today’s demo. Freezing cold and rain. Man on crutches told to apply for a job emptying bins for the local council. 

OK, today wasn’t a good day. To start with the rain was relentless and it felt as cold as early spring. The atmosphere emanating from the Jobcentre was much the same. 

I arrived at ten on the dot and was greeted by a queue of people waiting for their food parcels. Luckily Gordon had just arrived and I could hand them out straight away. People really don’t want to be hanging around in the rain and cold when they are hungry.

I had a good chat with them all and made sure that they were as OK as possible. I got a few hugs and handshakes. This really cheered me up. It takes time to build up trust and we are in it for the long haul. 

We also had a good chat about voting and the importance of it.

Because I’ve been doing this for nearly 4 years I’ve seen a few elections. Normally people can’t be bothered to vote, but this year is very different. Most of the people that we spoke to are now going to vote, and they realise the importance of this. 

Personally I’m praying that labour win because it’s very hard work doing what I and the team do. I want to see an end to people’s suffering. To be quite honest it makes me very angry. 

For new readers that haven’t scrolled down, we’ve seen so many awful things. We have  heard  of people that we had helped committing suicide, attempted suicide, people becoming ill and everyone is suffering.? 

Why would anyone wish that on anyone else? Tories find this very easy of course. 

What is shocking me more and more every week is the amount of older people having to use the Jobcentre and the amount of obviously very disabled people being wheeled into the Jobcentre. 

These people deserve respect but the DWP gives them none. 

Here’s a lady being pushed in by a member of her family. It’s disgusting. I took the video on their way out because I was busy when they entered. 

Today was very busy but obviously people were wanting to get out of the rain so were rushing. 

We spoke to a man who had been on crutches due to a long term disability. He was told by his adviser to apply for a job as a bin man. 

Yes over three years later and I’m still hearing stories like this. Nothing ever changes does it. 
Our food parcels were gone within half a hour, all to hungry people desperate for something to eat.

 No decent government would allow this to happen to people. But the government actually likes this, I’m sure that they revel in their cruelty. 
I spoke to lots of people, many older men who are very frustrated and angry. One man in particular who had failed his esa medical and we had to calm him down and give him food. I told him that I understand his anger and I really do. It’s awful that he’s suffering like this. 
To say I’m angry at the system is an understatement. I’m not sure if I can handle another five years of this, I suppose that I will have to but financially I can’t take anymore really. As a single parent I’ve been targeted myself by this government so believe me I can relate to how people are feeling. 

Luckily today four friends came and said hello. They brought a coffee over with them which we shared. Being freezing cold it tasted really nice. 

A friend called Andy popped round to say hello. He’s a fantastic electrician, bit random to mention but he’s self employed and I can attest to how hard that is myself so I’m giving him an un ashamed plug. 

He’s called Andy Spark on Facebook and he helps out every now and then.
A much valued member of the team Roy hasn’t been feeling well and he braved his sickness and the weather to join us. Thank you!

Also a massive shout out to the members of the team, and my friends and supporters. You all mean the world to me. 

Regardless of the election vote we will be back again next week. Please can I ask you to please use your vote?

 The amount of people suffering is unbelievable. 

Their stories are heartbreaking. 
Please share my blog, talk about it, donate if possible. Every penny helps. This has unfortunately become a full time job for me and I really need to continu this vital work. Thank you! 

Today’s demo. WASPI ladies visiting the Jobcentre, queue for food parcels again.

Luckily today the weather was on our side. No rain and only a welcome breeze, it does help to make things a bit easier.

I arrived promptly as usual and as soon as I arrived I was met by people waiting for food parcels. I did tweet this and someone stated ‘are you surprised?’, my response was actually no, we’ve been doing this for a long time now and have seen some terrible things. At any rate, we usually have a queue for the food parcels and they were all gone within 15 minutes. that’s six food parcels gone within 15 minutes. Imagine if this was replicated all day, can you imagine how many we would hand out?

Today was busy though, people rushing in and out, many not having the time to stop and talk. Some people are scared of talking though and that’s understandable. It’s not unusual for a Jobcentre advisor to warn people not to talk to us. It’s a culture of fear and they like to run a tight ship which consists of fear and compliance.

I spoke to a lady who is struggling with the benefit cap. In order to keep her house she has to pay the top up rent from her weekly allowance. This has given her many sleepless nights because she can’t buy food and pay the rent at the same time. I assured her that she can have as many food parcels as she needs, and the relief on her face was all too apparent. She told me that she hadn’t slept properly for ages but tonight she will sleep.

I spoke to a chap who is also struggling both with his money and his accommodation. His ceiling was leaking last night and it needed fixing by his landlord which he is trying to do. He’s also been sanctioned so is relying on our food parcels. His face lit up when he described how nice the food was that we gave him last week.

He’s a lovely chap who’s going through a bad patch at the moment. This can happen to anyone and people should keep this in mind.

I spoke to a lady who is four weeks away from finally receiving her pension. She’s been a regular for a while now and she’s finding having to comply with the Jobcentres rules really stressful.

She told me that in two weeks her advisor has told her that she has to renew her claimant commitment… that in itself is dubious to me. Then two weeks after this she will be receiving her pension. In the meantime her advisor has told her that she has to look for work or receive a sanction.

Readers, this is ridiculous. Not only is she going to be receiving her pension in four weeks, realistically she isn’t going to find an employer who will employ her.

Call me old fashioned, but I respect my elders, she has worked all her life and she should be allowed to enjoy this next phase in her life. They show no respect to anyone do they. And no I’m not surprised, we see this a lot.

I asked her what she will be doing when she retires, and she said that she won’t be going near any computer screens and she’s going to rest. Good on her she deserves it.

We spoke to a gentleman who had been called to a PIP medical but he had no idea of how to get there and he struggles to read and write. A colleague (Roy) phoned ATOS up and rearranged the appointment for him to a centre nearer to home. Unfortunately I was busy helping someone else. It’s also arranged that a colleague meets him and accompanies him. Unfortunately it’s the school holiday’s and I can’t go, but he’s being taken care of and that’s the main thing. This is teamwork at it’s best.

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He clearly needed help and help was given.

I must stress that all of the team are fantastic, even people that just stop and say hello whilst on their way to do their shopping etc. The solidarity is amazing and I do appreciate it.

A lovely gentleman and his son dropped off a small food parcel and it was taken, so thank you very much also. It was lovely seeing you again.

Remember folks, all this happened within two hours on a Thursday morning. The amount of people struggling everyday without adequate or any support is huge. There are no official figures for this. However the system does make people very ill, so if you see or hear of anyone struggling, say hello and be a friend. That’s all that most people in this situation want.

This has become a full time job for myself, it never ends. Please can you share my blog, talk about it, tweet it, tell your local politician etc. Also there is a donation button below. Every penny helps! Many thanks to everyone that already do!

Thank you and you are all amazing people!
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Today’s demo. A two minute silence for the victims of the terrorist attack, Avon reps recruiting inside the Jobcentre and a lady scared to take her medication because she’s scared of missing an appointment.

This week has been awful. The terrorist attack which killed 22 young people and their family members has devastated Manchester and the surrounding areas, also I’m sure the whole country feels this way.

We had to do our weekly demo because people still need help, the DWP doesn’t stop their persecution of claimants even in the event of a terrorist attack. One lady I spoke to was told that she had to go to Manchester for an appointment even though the area that they wanted her to go to was still cordoned off. You really couldn’t make this up could you.

Out of respect to the victims and their families we held a 2 minute silence, and we lit a candle to remember the people that were lost.

We did approach Ashton Jobcentre and asked if we could stand united with them for this silence. They refused. Says it all doesn’t it.

 

 

I was five minutes late today because I was advising a lady in the café that I frequent before the demo about the benefit cap. She’s just had a baby and now her rent payments have been stopped. This is a scenario echoed up and down the country. I advised her then arrived at the Jobcentre.

 
There was once again a queue of people outside the Jobcentre waiting for a food parcel. Some of those waiting are affected by the benefit cap. We were very lucky today because as well as the food parcels we had been given a big bag of bread to hand out! Fresh bread feels like a luxury when you have nothing.
As we were handing food parcels out I noticed a few women enter the Jobcentre carrying Avon bags, booklets and order forms. Now, Avon to put it simply is pyramid selling and no one ever really can make a living from it. The Jobcentre won’t see it like that though. They will most likely expect a person to be able to live off the meagre amount earned. Besides this Ashton and the surrounding areas are poor areas and most people don’t have the money to buy their products anyway.

My heart went out to the people inside the Jobcentre who would have been forced to sit through a lecture on the virtues of selling Avon. Not only is it building false hope up, it’s shameful of this company to want to exploit the poor like this.

Slimming World reps were also entering the building with the Avon reps.

Let’s look at this realistically. Anyone who has the misfortune of being unemployed are very short of extra money. Certainly they have no spare money for fancy diets and slimming world subs. So were they trying to recruit members? Were they trying to sell their diet plans?

Either way, this didn’t sit well with me. It’s hard enough being unemployed without someone dressed up to the nines insult you on how overweight you may or may not be. People are struggling to survive and that is there priority.

I and others felt disgusted about the representatives from both companies approaching claimants like this. I might have sworn a bit.

 

 

We spoke to a lady who had missed out on her pension. this lady should be retired, and we see this a lot. It really does make my heart break when I see older women stressed out and certainly not enjoying the latter years of their life.

 
As I was taking to a lady outside the Jobcentre another well turned out lady went to walk past me. I asked her if she would like a leaflet. She then asked what the leaflets were for.

I stated that these leaflets are to help people survive their Jobcentre experience, that they are a step by step guide and are very helpful. She laughed and said that people should just get a job. It’s easy. Yes she said its easy.

So I asked her what company she works for and she stated New Charter, one of our local housing associations. No surprise there really. From experience I can say that some staff members attitudes have a lot to be desired.

I then quoted a few facts, and her reply was ‘well you seem to know a lot don’t you’. I replied yes I do, and by the looks of it a damn sight more than you do. She then waltzed off muttering to herself.

 

 

I spoke to a lady who suffers from tinnitus and a an inner ear illness which causes her to loose her balance. She is in constant pain due to headaches and failed her ESA medical. She is appealing though.

She said that she should take her medication, but can’t because she is too scared of missing her Jobcentre appointment. How awful is this. Of course the Jobcentre don’t care at all. Instead they sent her to a place locally where they gave her a booklet on stress relief. Yes they actually did that. To add insult to injury every  suggestion on that list had some amount of financial cost applicable to it.

Here’s an idea. Why not start treating people like humans, showing compassion and understanding. But that would be too easy wouldn’t it.

 

As we were packing up to go, we spoke to a man who is at his own admission an alcoholic. He had recently lost his father and the terrorist attack was just too much for him. He had a drink to steady his nerves before he went to the Jobcentre. He also suffers from anxiety.

He arrived at the Jobcentre not overly drunk and sober enough to have a decent conversation with. He told us that his advisor had refused to see him and they escorted him out of the building.

They didn’t advise him that he should be claiming ESA nor did they offer him any sympathy. I swore again I think. Today has been a bit stressful.

 
Today was hard for many reasons, it was hard going despite the hot weather. My friend who came to keep me company tried to cheer me up but it wasn’t happening. Time after time we are seeing suffering that shouldn’t be happening.

Today was a bad day hopefully next week will be better but I doubt it.
Many thanks to everyone who came along to help and provide support. The team are amazing.
Today we handed out six food parcels, extra bread, help, advice, a shoulder to cry on a listening  ear for anyone wanting to have a rant about their ill treatment. The list goes on. I just wish that we didn’t have to do this but we do.

 

 

This has become a full time job for myself, it never ends. Please can you share my blog, talk about it, tweet it, tell your local politician etc. Also there is a donation button below. Every penny helps! Many thanks to everyone that already do!

Thank you and you are all amazing people!
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Today’s demo. Tears, anger and frustration.

I always start writing this blog by telling you how I feel that today’s demo has been. Well today felt somewhat similar to our early demos, when Universal Credit was being introduced and neither the claimants nor the Jobcentre staff had a clue as to what to do. The Jobcentre staff however at times took full advantage of this and tried to pull the wool over most claimants eyes. Today the frustration of a system and staff that are constantly working against them was very apparent.

As soon as I arrived so did the food parcels. I have a dislike of being late so I always make sure that I am on time. Gordon was on the ball with picking up the food parcels so this was brilliant.

The queue had already started to form across the road. There is a handy place to sit and keep an eye out for my arrival. It’s so sad that people have to queue like this though.

As we were taking the food parcels out of the car, they started walking over one by one, most likely because they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves. It’s bad enough that they have to collect a food parcel isn’t it.

I had a chat with two regulars in particular , and once again reminded them that it would be a good thing if they could access local services. They aren’t ready yet, and I can’t force them, nor can I attempt to. I really don’t want to scare them away. Engaging with me is a massive hurdle for them in itself.

Most of the food parcels were handed out within 25 minutes, leaving one waiting to be claimed. I’m so glad that we had this one left over because it was badly needed.

A man whom I estimated to be in his 40’s stormed out of the Jobcentre, tears streaming out of his eyes. At the same time he was furious, It was obvious to see that he needed help. Members of the team tried to ask him how he was, but he stormed off. Quickly I chased after him. It’s important never to let anyone walk off whilst they are this upset. it’s important that they are listened to. In fact it’s vital.

I caught up with him and I asked him if he was ok, he could see that I could relate to him. He said that he had enough, he didn’t know if he could carry on. I asked why.

He had failed his ESA medical, which is very commonplace, however the attitude of the staff in the Jobcentre was the thing that upset him the most he said. His ESA had been stopped and he had no money. To say he was distraught was an understatement.

I explained to him that he can appeal, and he must do so. He said that he would do. He’s had to do it before, so he knows the score. He said that he had no food, and had spent the last of his money on a bag of sugar so he can make a cup of tea. From experience, drinking tea and coffee does tend to keep the hunger pains away, so I totally understood this.

I went through our leaflet with him and then gave him the last food parcel and told him that he can contact me at any time. His mood lifted, and he said that he was glad that I had chased after him because it had given him hope.

We said goodbye, and he walked over to the council offices to inform the council of his housing benefit change.

From past experience its vital that we intervene in circumstances like this, to put it honestly a person can feel like there’s nothing to live for when they have been treated like this. A kind word can and does prevent anything awful happening, and over the 3 1/2 years of doing these demos, I really don’t want anyone to suffer like this. We’ve seen too many awful things happen.

I regained my composure and started to  talk to a woman who is being hounded by the Jobcentre to find work even though she is on Income Support and her youngest child isn’t five until December. I informed her of her legal rights, and she went inside to tell them.

We spoke to a lady who had failed her ESA medical three months ago, but hadn’t put in an appeal. She wasn’t advised as she should have been, nor had we spoken to her before.

She told us that she had been forced to attend a training programme interview in Middleton, not local at all if you don’t drive. She suffers from COPD and cannot travel long distances on public transport. They said that she had to attend or be sanctioned. So she paid £30 for a taxi to get there.

The Jobcentre staff know she’s disabled, but her advisor is one know to be an awful one. Lets just say her reputation proceeds her. She refuses to recognise her disability and knowingly sent her for an training course interview to drive a fork lift truck. This lady isn’t capable of doing this job and the advisor knows this. She’s setting her up to fail and is doing this on purpose.

Advice was given and she then started to chat to the lady previously mentioned. By the looks of it they have formed a good friendship.

Today we noticed far too many ladies using the Jobcentre who should be retired, but the government changed the rules. This always makes me angry.

We spoke to many people with many different problems, but the one common element was that everyone was frustrated and angry.

Most of the people that we spoke to should be claiming ESA, but have been disallowed, so they are forced to appeal. They have to do this far too often.

I spoke to a young lady who was dropping her sick note off, she was supposed to be going into hospital that afternoon. She’s bi-polar and is going through a bad patch. I persuaded her to go, to reclaim her ESA and told her that she shouldn’t have to be forced to use the Jobcentre. She’s ill but the government will not make any allowance for illness will they.

We had run out of food parcels when a man that we help from time to time asked me for one. He too isn’t well, so I gave my leaflets to a comrade and went to buy him food. My heart went out to him, because he is desperate, and only asks for help when he is.

Today was stressful, but it was also good. We did a lot of positive work this morning, which isn’t easy when you are on the frontline. It was also nice to see a new member of the team arrive. Full of knowledge, I’m certain that he will be a brilliant asset to the team.

I’m tired now, so I’m going to have a cuppa. But I’ll leave this with you.

One kind word or action can make a massive difference to a strangers life. Pass a kindness on, say hello to someone, anything. It costs nothing.

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This has become a full time job for myself, it never ends. Please can you share my blog, talk about it, tweet it, tell your local politician etc. Also there is a donation button below. Every penny helps! Many thanks to everyone that already do!

Thank you and you are all amazing people!
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Sanctioned for missing an appointment when the Jobcentre was shut. today’s demo.

I was thankful this morning of having sunshine, yes sunshine for a change and warmer temperatures. It cant be underestimated how much better a day of sunshine can actually make to a person. I just wish that every day could have these temperatures etc for the rough sleepers that I know and for the ones that I don’t. I am thinking of you.

I started my day by buying breakfast for a homeless bloke that I know. Lovely fella and its always nice to say hello to him. I then had a quick cuppa and headed off to the Jobcentre with Roy, a member of the team. I’ve mentioned him before.

As we arrived, the food parcels did. Gordon was dead on time and it was a pleasant surprise because it prevented a queue forming.

We handed a food parcel to a chap who is struggling, but has asked to keep his identity and details confidential. But he’s got a lot of personal issues to deal with so I let him know of all of the local support out there that is there to help him.

One of our regular attendees arrived. We supply food parcels for both him and his girlfriend. He didn’t turn up last week and I was half worried and half thinking that his situation had changed. It hadn’t they had both been ill and were unable to go out. So we helped them with their food parcels. He was very happy to see us and stated that even if his financial situation does improve he will still come and say hello.

He’s a lovely fella and it was nice to see him, not so nice that his situation hasn’t changed though. He is getting help with this though.

As we were handing leaflets out a man approached me, he looked stressed and nervous. He was also looking at the remaining food parcels. I could see that he needed help.

I asked him if he was ok, he said no. His story wasn’t unusual, but that doesn’t make it less important does it. He had received a letter for an appointment at the Jobcentre, and had missed it because the Jobcentre was shut. Yes shut folks. Obviously the DWP either have no idea of their opening times and days, or this was purposely done. Take your guess. I know which option that I would choose.

He said that he has put in his appeal, which is good but he was hungry. Obviously he hasn’t got money for food. We handed a food parcel to him and he couldn’t believe that we were going to help him without asking him lots of questions and judging him. We just wanted to feed him and offer solidarity and advice.

After a lovely conversation, he walked away knowing that at least we care about him. I’m sure that he will be back next week.

We spoke to a man that has had his ESA stopped, he is very clued up, but that’s thanks to people like ourselves putting the information out there for people to read. He is now going for tribunal and he has got representation. He said that if he could he would be stood outside the Jobcentre every week with us.

They are b******s he said, the system is designed to fail us and he was clearly angry with the system. Quite rightly so. He went on to say that he will be voting because he wants to get that lot out (his words).

We spoke to a young mum forced to attend her six monthly single parent interview. The DWP likes to target single parents as if they are useless, have zero intelligence at all and to put pressure on them to return to work. She said that she had always worked, but has fallen on hard times. This can happen to anyone can’t it. Luckily she is on income support so is not getting as much pressure as the single parents on Universal Credit.

I spoke to a young couple that we have been helping for a while now with various matters. If there was a bad luck fairy waving a magic wand it has landed on their doorstep. They’ve had the worst run of bad luck that I’ve seen in a long while. It even rivals mine.

They were in desperate need of a proof of address and income letter from the DWP for their housing benefit claim, this was urgent. They had spent all their phone credit phoning a DWP department from inside the Jobcentre. Why on earth the Jobcentre couldn’t do this for them is beyond me. Their rulings are designed to make people suffer. Instead they were given a number to phone.

They phoned the number given, and was told by a rather snooty person that this can’t be done, they won’t provide a proof of address etc by fax (yes the DWP still uses the fax system) instead it will be posted to them. We know that this is untrue so I let them use my phone. After around 15 minutes on the phone and a long rendition of Vivaldi they got the correct answer. Yes it can be done, yes it will be done and if they gave it a few minutes it would be faxed over.

This highlighted to us all that the system is flawed in more ways than we can mention, and also that some DWP members of staff either haven’t got a clue what they are doing or they choose to give out the wrong information. Take your choice out of the two suggestions. Personally I think that it’s a mixture of the two scenarios.

I got a hug, a big thank you and we all got a massive sigh of relief that they could actually go and sort out their housing benefit.

We spoke to many people today. Some were angry, some complacent and resigned to the fact that it would always be like this. But we told them otherwise. We advised people to use their vote, and to vote the Tory party out because it is they who are making them suffer. We had to explain this though, because many people just don’t understand the connection between government and the DWP. But once explained, we persuaded at least four people to vote. I also have been doing this in shops etc, strike up a conversation with  people because it’s the only real way that we are going to change things.

Tia the dog came to say hello. We do have doggy members of the team! Zelda the dog we really miss you!

It’s awful to see a child’s toy found on the floor in the entrance of the Jobcentre. No child and their parent should have to use the Jobcentre. We really hope that it was reunited with it’s owner who was probably missing it.

As for me, its been a bit of a rubbish week, apart from seeing Jeremy Corbyn when he visited Ashton Under Lyne. He’s fab and I’m lucky enough to have seen him a few times already. He’s my daughters hero.

I was promised payment for some work that I did. The payment never materialised so that has put myself out enormously. I don’t know how people can do that to other people. So understandably I’m fed up and annoyed.

Please be patient if I take a while getting back to you though. My credit on my mobile is about to run out and my internet bill might not get paid. Such is life.

Many thanks to everyone that supports my blog, both online and face to face. It’s really important that we do get these stories out there because they highlight the struggles that people are facing. How can we change things otherwise?

Please share or donate if you can. This has become a full time job for myself and I’m on a very low income. Every penny helps! Thank you and a massive thank you to those that already do. You are wonderful.

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