Plummeting temperatures meant a very cold and busy demo today. 

I’m writing this blog piece from the restaurant at Ikea. It was much too cold to walk home then walk the long treck to school again to pick my daughter up. It’s warm here and I can get a free cuppa. 

Today’s demo started off quite quickly. A comrade from Manchester was waiting for me and it was already cold. But it quickly got much colder the longer we stood there. 

The food parcels arrived and we started to hand them out as usual. Everyone was cold today and my heart goes out to everyone having to endure these below zero temperatures with unsuitable clothing. My coat is normally warm but wasn’t warm enough today. 

We saw a familiar face picking up his food parcel. It’s his birthday today and we gave him our best wishes and a hug. 

Then another gentleman that we help give regular food parcels to stopped to collect his food parcel. He was happier than usual because he had had a letter informing him that he can now apply for his workplace pension. He said it is only £20 a week, but it will make a massive difference and he will live like a lord. I’m really happy for him. 

We then spoke to various people. One man was explaining how he had lost his post office card and was having trouble replacing it. He accesses his money every fortnight using this, but the person on the end of the phone at the post office bank had said that he hadnt used it for 12 months. Ridiculous and he’s been referred to get this sorted out asap. 

We spoke to a young man, who for various reasons has to stay on a paper job search only. His advisor told him that if he doesn’t go online they will sanction him. Luckily he stood his ground, spoke to a supervisor and had this decision lifted. This begars the question….. Do DWP workers actually look at the claimants details on the computers whilst they are there or are they just trying it on to see if they can achieve an easy target? Always stick your ground with them. They cannot break an already binding agreement no matter what they try and say. 

Another young man came out of the Jobcentre. He had been inside for over an hour just for a signing on appointment. His advisor, one quite well known for their unkindness and lack of sympathy had decided that they had to apply for a totally unsuitable job that conflicts with their disability. Advice was given. Unfortunately we wernt inside the building to prevent this from happening.

Another couple were seen approaching the building. The gentleman appeared to be elderly, the lady in a wheelchair and was very obviously physically disabled. They said that they had been called to the Jobcentre yet again to prove that they were disabled. However they had already done their homework and stood their ground. 

Once people are empowered and knowledgeable it’s the best fightback ever. 

I’m still freezing, but the people forced to use the Jobcentre are even colder. The system is awful, it’s inhumane and degrading but designed to be so. But we are still fighting for change.

Lovely to see other groups out today campaigning but we do need more people to do regular protests like we do. Whatever the weather we are out there to help, advise, signpost and to give food parcels to. We need to empower people so that they can empower others and lower the risk of a future sanction. 

We will be back next week whatever the weather. It’s hard work but we will be there. 

Thanks to everyone that attended. 

Please donate or share if you can. We are the longest running Jobcentre protest in the country and we are very dedicated in helping and empowerong others. It’s also become a full time job for myself. And I can’t see that changing any time soon unfortunately. Every share helps and every donation does also. Thank you! 



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Busy demo yet again. Exhausted and deflated, a feeling shared by too many. 

I arrived at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre a few minutes early. Before arriving I had noticed one of our regular attendees hovering around the local shops waiting for me to arrive. Another was already waiting for me for a food parcel. These food parcels are invaluable and are going at record speed these days. I hate the idea that anyone has to depend on a food parcel, because everyone should have access to food, water, heating and electricity and waiting for me to arrive is a sad indictment of how society treats its most vulnerable. 

Not long after I arrived my comrade Gordon arrived with the food parcels in his car. I don’t drive and couldn’t afford to if i wanted to anyway. So this is a massive relief for me. As soon as they arrived two were handed out, and I had a nice chat with the man that had been hanging around the shops waiting for me. I told him where I would be if hes’s early next week, and if finances allow I will buy him a nice hot cuppa for £1. It’s the least that I can do. 

It wasn’t as cold as last week, but it was still cold. One thing that you notice straight away are the unsuitable clothes that people are forced to wear in the cold weather. Cotton shoes, cotton trousers, thin coats and the absence of hats, gloves and scarfs. We do the best that we can do in the circumstances and we try not to let anyone walk away as cold as they arrived. This isn’t always possible though for various reasons but we do our best. 

There were many various cases this week. A mother of 7 who’s relationship had broken down has now been forced to enter the world of attending the Jobcentre. She has a mortgage to pay, and was obviously better off financially before her relationship breakdown. Her bank is refusing to transfer her mortgage to an interest only mortgage so she doesn’t get much help with it. Shes really struggling and my heart went out to her. Roy, a much valued member of the team gave her much needed advice on this. Mortgages aren’t my expertise, but what Roy doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing. He’s amazing!

We also tried to help a lady who had failed her ESA medical. Shes disabled with various conditions, and the feeling that I got was that she had given up fighting. There was no spirit left in her and her advisor is giving her the run around. We gave her a listening ear and some much needed advice. I’m praying that she takes our advice because she is vulnerable and I do worry about people. 

We spoke to many people, all with problems that shouldn’t have to exist. This government in my eyes are punoinshing people mearly for existing and it makes me angry. 

But one thing that does give me hope is the solidarity that the team gives to me and to the claimants. We are all different. I’m a skint single parent struggling to get by, and this is a bad week. But I stand amongst retired comrades, unemployed comrades and people that don’t divulge their personal information but they just want to stand with us in solidarity. And we like that, respecting a persons right for confidentiality is very important to us. We don’t judge but simply just be. 

I will end today’s blog with the words from a man that had previously had to undergo the regime at the Jobcenter but has now luckily escaped. He said ” I want to come and help, because I got help whilst that lot (the DWP) were giving me hell. I want to give back the kindness that others showed me. And this folks, is what it’s all about. 

Please donate! This has become a full time job for myself thanks to the governments cruel policies. Every penny really does count. If you can’t donate please share. The world needs to know about the atrocities that this cruel heartless government have implemented. Thank you! 

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Today’s freezing cold demo. And some words from my 10 year old.

Today was our regular demo day. I say demo but we do so much more such as hand information leaflets out, offer solidarity and advice. We’ve become a lifeline to many who are desperately needing all of the above. 

Regular readers will know that we hand out food parcels each week. This week we had about 5 to start with. There was already a queue forming for them. So they went within 30 mins. Later on a comrade arrived with 3 more food parcels and they went in no time at all. It’s awful. Queuing in the street for a food parcel. This government does not care one bit, and it’s pointless trying to reach to their so called compassionate side because they don’t have one. Instead Teresa May spouts on about a “shared society”. I’d have to agree that one thing that we are sharing amongst many is poverty, and it’s in abundance. The wealth certainly doesn’t trickle down and it won’t start to until we have a change of government. They certainly look after their own. 

To say it was cold today was an understatement. Despite my layers I was still shivering. My heart went out to the people that we saw with thin coats on, cotton shoes and no hats, scarfs and gloves. We have been donated some lovely hats, gloves , scarfs and socks so we handed these out. But it still felt like it wasn’t enough. Today was a day when nothing that I was doing would have any effect. Daft I know, but I can’t keep the cold off someone’s back or the worry from their mind, although we really do our best to help. 

A lovely man started to talk to me, he was sanctioned yet again. This happens a lot because once the DWP have sanctioned you the odds on them doing it again are very high. They must see these people as an easy way to reach their targets. This is why we advise everyone to appeal a sanction and to appeal an ESA medical decision. The DWP hate this because most that appeal win. Remember they want as many unemployed people off the unemployment figures by ANY means possible. And they are ruthless at doing this. 

Spoke to a lovely young lady who had her gorgeous young baby with her. Shes on Income Support and her advisor had told her that she had to go on the work programme. I advised her and she went in regarding the law and having a child under the age of 5. She reported back that the advisor had a bit of a strop and muttered something along the lines of “Well I’ll have to take you off the list then”. This is how easy it is for them to break the rules. Once we empower people, they empower themselves even more and become a force to be reckoned with. They then help others. This is one of the reasons why we do this. Its amazing to see someone turn their situation round. 

Some weeks it does hit hard, this was one of them and I’m not ashamed to say that I feel a bit dispondent. But this will give me the motive to carry on campaigning. 

I have a 10 year old daughter. Shes very astute and compassionate. Today she said “Why can’t the government treat people with respect? Everyone deserves respect. No one should ever go hungry like this and it’s wrong.” She went on to say “I want to take the government to court for everyone that has died or has gone hungry, the need punishing because its cruel. When I grow up I’m going to try and do this. I’m proud of you mum, and I’m proud of everyone else that is campaigning.” 

Shes 10 years old. She can see the unnecessary cruelty, many could learn from her despite her young age. I’m very proud of her. Maybe one day she will be able to make a difference and I will do everything within my power to enable this. 

Many thanks to everyone that attended today. I do appreciate it, and I do know that its freezing cold and its very hard work. A massive thank you from myself because you are ALL amazing!
Please donate if you can. If you can’t please share. Its very hard campaigning and every share, kind word etc helps so much!  Thank you.
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Good news for a change! 

Today, as you can guess was extremely cold. Winter has well and truly set in and it is concerning because so many are without the basics like heating, lighting and good decent food.

I arrived at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre as usual and unpacked my now infamous shopping trolley. I’m sure in future I’ll be known as the lady with the trolley. Anyway I digress.

After unpacking I was greeted with my comrade Gordon who arrived with the food parcels. We’ve got a nice system going now. They are heavy so he picks them up in his car and drops them with me outside the Jobcentre. This is a massive help because I don’t drive and I would find it difficult. It’s a winner all round.

As soon as the food parcels were placed on the ground they were taken by people in desperate need. I’m so glad that we are able to do this. It makes a massive difference and they have helped so many.

I got chatting to a man who was so despondent that he said he was thinking of not bothering. We provided him with much needed solidarity, advice and a much needed food parcel. He said that it was nice to see kind people for a change.

I noticed a lady whom we have been helping for quite a quite now. She was strolling up slowly with her walking frame. We had been helping her try and sort this out but it hadn’t been easy. At first she was so upset that she struggled to remember anything except the need to survive. You see she had no food, nothing. So when we first met her the first thing that I did was to take her to the shop next door and buy her food. Ever since then we had been providing her with food parcels and these literally have kept her going.

Once her confidence had grown, both in herself and in us she began to open up. Colleagues from Unite Community took her case on as a matter of urgency. I requested this because it was a complicated case and I’m overloaded. This does not mean that I didn’t care, far from it. She was given the one to one support that she needed, and sometimes I need to delegate.

She asked me to come and speak to her, and she told me that after 8 months of having no money she’s been awarded her first payment and back pay.

To say we were all ecstatic is an understatement. Plenty of hugs were given, cheers and we even did a little happy dance.

This has made my year. The smile on her face said it all. She told us that we had saved her life and she would be eternally grateful.

This is why we help folk. We sometimes, quite literally save life’s, give people hope. We don’t realise this at the time. We just see someone in need and help them, no questions asked and no judgement made.

We only see the need for compassion, which is something that the DWP and the Government have none of. And to expect them to would be foolish.

No one should ever have to go without food, water, heating and a roof over their head. And I will carry on helping people for as long as it is needed. I will also not stop campaigning until this barbaric treatment of the poor stops.

It makes my heart break. But today was a good day and this smile says it all.

We will be returning next week as always.

Thank you so much for your support it really does mean so much. I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t upset me and my comrades. It can, and does a great deal. But days like this make everything worthwhile.

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Thursday 29th December demo. 

  • It always feels strange having to stand outside the Jobcentre during the period between Christmas and new year. People assume that the unemployed and those unlucky enough to be on Universal Credit get a break from their monotonous job searches at Christmas time. The truth is that they don’t, it’s buisness as usual although it was a bit quieter today. 

I was slow in getting ready this morning. I’ve been battling with a stubborn infection that isn’t going, and I didn’t sleep much last night. But it didn’t put me off. My daughter often jokes that she would have to drag me out in a wheelchair. You see, its important that we give the people that need help all the help that they need. 

As myself and my daughter reached the town centre, we bumped into a homeless man that I haven’t seen before. Maybe he’s travelled from another town, perhaps Manchester. My daughter reached under her dolls pram and gave the man a selection box that she had unbeknown to myself, placed underneath. She told him that he deserves more than that,  but its all she had. I didn’t prompt this, she’s a very clever young lady and has a good awareness of social issues. Understandably I’m very proud of her. 

We then walked to the Jobcentre. 

It was freezing. The frost lay thickly on the ground, and I thought that I may have been on my own. I was wrong though. We had a fairly good turnout. 

We handed out food parcels, help and advice. Most people going into the Jobcentre were dressed in unsuitable clothes and were visibly stressed. I think it’s hard to understand this unless you have either experienced it or know others going through the system. Sometimes, as many of you will know, there’s not alot that I can physically do except give support and solidarity. It can and does make the world of difference.

Our regular recipients of food parcels arrived, it’s always good to see them. I know then that they are still battling on and haven’t given up.

We handed one of our regular attendees a food parcel, an extra one with other essentials that she needs, and we are sorting her out with a mobile phone with credit on so she can contact us if and when needed. This is important because she is going through the appeal process and comrades are helping her with this. She isn’t on her own, and we’ve ween her grow into a more confident person even though her future is uncertain. 

After the demo we went for a cheap cuppa in a local cafe. We all needed to warm up. 

I need to say a massive thank you to the team and to Pauline. I know it’s winter and the Christmas period, but the government cares little for this event though they will be enjoying their holidays. Job seekers don’t have the pleasure of any break at all. Hunger doesn’t have a holiday, neither does poverty. And homelessness us increasing on such a scale that it’s hard to keep up. 

My thoughts are going to the homeless man whom we met earlier, and the thousands like him. It’s an awful world out there for them. 


Please donate if you can, it helps so much. If you can’t share as much as possible. Thank you.
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Thursdays demonstration. Claimant turned away from the Jobcentre because he was two minutes early.

Thursday was our regular demo day and it was freezing. Despite the weather we had a good turn out and we handed six food parcels out as well as packs of toiletries that had been kindly donated. These are essential because when you have no money they aren’t a priority, food and keeping warm is. So these are always warmly welcome.

We spoke to many people and offered solidarity, advice and signposted everyone that needed to be signposted.

Like I have mentioned before, Christmas is not a joyful time for many so seeing a friendly face really makes a big difference.

We spoke to a man, whom we had noticed had been walking in and out of the building. A member of the team asked him what was wrong? Why all the visits? He stated that they had turned him away because he was two minutes early. Yes two minutes.

Come on Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, this is just petty. I feel this was done to humiliate the poor man, to remind him of where his place where they are regarded truly is.

Some people reading this might think that this is nothing, not a big deal, but it is a big deal. It humiliates the person concerned and strips a person of any self worth that they might have had left. Indeed, I see it as a kind of mental abuse, although some might think I am extreme saying this but I don’t think so. As a survivor of domestic violence it reminds me of something my ex partner used to do to me. Things like this still need to be tackled, because they are part of the much bigger issue and they always lead to more unfair treatment by the DWP.

It was a very peaceful demo as usual, we exchanged cards, hugs, food, compassion and solidarity. This is the true meaning of Christmas.

We will be back next Thursday because the Jobcentre will be open and people will still need help.

I want to thank everyone who has supported us this year, and the past years. You all mean so much. We’ve seen this grow into a much bigger movement which is amazing.

I’m not sure how I would have managed without the support of my readers, comrades and friends who are always there when I need them. I have had a few moments this year when I didnt know how I would manage, or when I have been so upset because of a persons treatment by the DWP.

I also apologise if I don’t respond in time. I’m very busy and that does reflect in my response to emails etc.

So a massive thank you from myself and the team who are amazing. I keep saying this, but they are.

I hope that those who are celebrating Christmas have a lovely time, and for those who aren’t, just try and take it a day at a time and cope in whatever way you feel that you can do. Last year I avoided everything Christmas and it helped lots.

Keep safe and thank you

Charlotte.

 

 

Please donate if you can, if not please share. It’s so important that we continue to raise awareness, give support and continue.

Thank you!
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Our Dickensian Christmas Demonstration.

Yesterday, on Thursday the 15th of December we held our annual Christmas demonstration.

We chose the theme because of the similarities between life for the poor in Victorian times, and life for the poor in present times. Also comparable are the attitudes of the government and employers.

Sanctions and ESA failed medicals are being handed out like smarties it seems, and for those affected its horrendous. They can’t see their way out.

Many hide away, give up or commit suicide, and of course the government don’t care. Teresa May, our unelected prime minister views these draconian methods as ‘Value for money’ which only goes to prove that once again, we are seen as a commodity to be used at any cost, and thrown away when your usefulness has diminished.

In Victorian times, the Workhouse was a place that was only visited when at your most desperate. A choice had to be made whether to have a short death on the streets, or a longer more arduous one in the workhouse. Many chose the workhouse because they got fed a basic amount of food and shelter. Neither good quality and no one thrived of it.

I view the Jobcentre as the modern day workhouse, they farm people out to the work programme and workfare which is profitable for the DWP. When a person becomes too sick, they throw them out of the system, leaving them unable to cope and deal with life in many instances.

It took a few months of planning, costumes made by a friend and some bought by myself. A wreath was made, speakers arranged, a PA system borrowed from Rick from DPAC.

We also sang a few specially arranged carols arranged by the Rev David Grey. I made carol sheets also so that people could take them home.

We handed about 15 food parcels out, as well as help information and solidarity. Also we had postcards for people to fill in to be sent by Unite Community to the government.

We also laid a wreath in respect of everyone who has passed away as a result of the governments awful regime. It was taken to a safe place afterwards due to the DWP throwing away previous ones.

Everything was going peacefully as always, around 30 peaceful members of the public and supporters turned up. But our enjoyment was cut short by a group of lads intent on causing trouble.

They had been watching us for a while and picked their moment to push a disabled lady and then started to shout abuse at us all. They were very aggressive and were shouting things like “Get a job” ‘Disabled people are scroungers” etc etc.

Now we are sadly very used to name calling, it’s part of the territory, but their aggressiveness concerned me. We had done nothing to provoke them. The police arrived, left, then the lads returned but were eventually led away.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a group of people who are spending their own valuable time stood in the cold helping others cant do this in peace. Its also a sad indictment of the influence that the right wing media has on young people if they are susceptible.

I can understand why they were angry. There isn’t alot of options for young people these days, that makes me sad too. But it wasn’t appropriate to target a group of peaceful, law abiding people like ourselves.

Please can I reassure anyone that supports our demos, that this isn’t a regular occurrence and I am doing everything in my power to prevent this from happening again.

It’s vital that we are outside the Jobcentre next Thursday, handing out food parcels, help and advice at the time of the year when they are most needed. I’m determined to be there, and I won’t let them stop me.

This time of year is the worst time of the year for many of us. I had to visit a supermarket today and  I rushed through avoiding the christmas stuff. The pressure that Christmas has put on myself and thousands of others has made me feel anxious and I can’t wait until its over.

I would like to thank everyone for their kindness and support, because without this I’m not sure that I would have had the strength at times to carry on with the demos. When I get a nice message or have a conversation with a friend, it enables me to carry on. Can you imagine not having that?

Please can I thank everyone who contributed towards the Christmas demo, my comrades over at DPAC and the guys from We Shall Overcome in particular. There’s too many to mention, but our costume lady was amazing.

Many thanks to my anti fracking nana friends, and the essex nanas. You are all AMAZING. Doing a fantastic job of preventing fracking.

The team are the best team in the world. So supportive, and are all from different left wing political parties. Its amazing because we don’t argue, we just get on with fighting the Tory parties evil regime.

Also on Christmas Day I will be lighting a candle in remeberance of everyone who has passed away as a result of this heinous Tory governments decisions to punish the poor. I am determined to get justice for them, and for everyone who has suffered at their hands.

We will be retuning next Thursday, we won’t be bullied out of our spot. Please come and join us in solidarity. We are very peaceful. And have been for over 2 1/2 years.

Please donate if you can, every penny helps. Running this campaign is a full time job, a very hard one at times. But the joy of helping someone is immense.

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Sorry for the delay in writing this, I was exhausted. Back to normal soon I hope!