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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you oncw again. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can do this. 

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

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Universal credit. The devil’s tool.

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I wrote about this a long time ago. Some took notice most didnt. There’s this strange attitude in the UK, if it’s not happening to me then I’m not bothered. But when it does happen to me I’m going to go mad. Thankfully myself and likewise folk are not like this. We see the implications and share them as widely as possible.

Universal credit isnt there to help you find work, that I’m sure of. Most people who are claiming universal credit are already working and are forced to comply with obscene job searches on top of this. If you aren’t working 39 hours a week or more you are seen as being under employed, so therefore have to comply with their rules.

Remember the man that I wrote about a long time ago? He was a single bloke working but forced to go onto universal credit. He had a job work an agency and could never guarantee his hours. It was also a zero hour contract. Basically work when we tell you because you never know when we will give you work again.
This man had worked a full week of nights, but he still had to complete his job search. They monitored him closely, ensuring that he didn’t get any rest. He tried his best to complete the number of hours given for his job searches, but he was a hour short because he fell asleep.
Ashton jobcentre didn’t use their discretion. Nope they sanctioned him his top up. At the time this also meant his housing benefit, although thankfully this has been corrected now. 
He lost everything, he didn’t get any work for a month, so lost his home, his family and he was literally starving. We signposted him to help and fed him, gave him a hat, gloves and scarf. Ive never seen a man as bereft of everything and he was close to taking his own life.
But no one took notice… Because it wasn’t happening to them.
We are however challenging their rules. If you are already in work then you ate obviously already seeking to obtain more work. Also the attitude that a single parent should have to work full time is terrible. A child needs to see their parents. For a single parent, working is already a struggle, but faced with hardly being able to see their children, well in my eyes that is heartbreaking. Don’t be fooled by the sudden kindness of this government in providing nursery places for 2 year old children. This is to ensure that you either return to work or take part in their awful work programme activities.
It’s not kindness we are plainly a commodity to them.

You can read the original blog if you scroll down.

This is why my comrades and myself campaign every week outside Ashton under Lyne jobcentre every week. We give help and advice to others.
We are also a knowledgeable bunch if people and we know our stuff. So pop by and say hello. We are there every Thursday 10-12

Remember just because it’s not happening to you doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctioned for a so called missed appointment and for another reason that they won’t declare. 

Nothing changes does it. Someone who attends Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre came to me for help. They turned up for their regular signing on date and were told that they were “possibly” going to be sanctioned for a missed appointment that they hadn’t received. Now this isn’t unusual so I set about trying to sort this out. 

No paperwork was given regarding this possible sanction and no right to appeal was given. They were just told that they had to wait for the decision. 

The first thing that I did was to email the Jobcentre manager. I stated DWP rulings in this email and that proper reason has to be given for a sanction to be applied. Also that it is DWP practice that you are given the right to appeal the sanction before it goes to the decision maker and once it gets to the decision maker. There is also a period of time given for this to happen. You are not supposed to be sanctioned straight away. 

Of course they ignored this and sanctioned them straight away (it’s a joint claim). 

To give the Jobcentre credit they did phone the people concerned upon receipt of the email. However the advisor phoning wasn’t the manager and they refused to give details of their position. They also gave different dates for the reason for the sanction. This isn’t unusual. But this is also wrong. They also refused to even conside dismissing the sanction. It would have to go to the decision maker. 

So we have several things that are wrong here. 

When you are informed of a possible sanction DWP legislation states that you should get this in writing with information included on how to appeal this decision. 

There should also be a period of time given to consider this. The decision was made in less than 2 days without a right to appeal. 

Three different dates were given. They don’t even know the actual date of the sanction! And once again no notification was given except a verbal “you might be sanctioned” 

The burden of proof goes to them to provide proof that an appointment was given and proof that they received it. This cannot be given because no appointment was received. 

Just to add this couple are completely fulfilling their job seekers agreement. Also they both have had job interviews and also have a work trial this weekend. But their advisor who had previously been nice to them suddenly and unexpectedly changed personality and said that they wernt doing enough to find a job! They have requested to change advisors but this has been refused. It is their right to do this! 
Also yet again G4S security staff are breaching the data protection act by taking clients details and national insurance numbers! They do know that they should not be doing this. They are employed as security staff only and not as advisors. 

I can also add that this is not the first time I have had to deal with a wrongful sanction case. I do this all the time. I just wanted to post a typical day (or two in this case) of just what myself and others do to try and help others. 

They have been given a hardship form to fill in which they have done. This had to be requested though. 

This case has also been referred to my local MP who has agreed to try and challenge this. Many thanks to Angela Reyners lovely secretary for agreeing to meet outside normal surgery hours. It’s very much appreciated. I do know Angela as we stood in the general elections together and our paths cross often. I’m hoping for a positive outcome on this. 

Here’s a comment made by a comrade who attends demonstrations outside Stockport Jobcentre. Terrible. 

This is happening in Stockport too. We had to arrange a foodbank voucher from the Solidarity Drop In when a young man with 3 children (one a baby) came to inform us of a situation where his JSA payment had been stopped pending an appointment at the Jobcentre to discuss a “potential sanction”. The reason for the potential sanction was that he had put a doctor’s appointment for one of his sick children ahead of a Jobcentre appointment at which the latest act in the nonsensical charade of a pretence that there are abundant jobs going-a-begging was to be acted out. At the meeting with the Jobcentre advisor (on a Monday), he had been told that the sanction was not to be proceeded with but that his payment due that day would nevertheless not be made until Friday. The DWP is acting unlawfully. This is quite simply a regime of the most gross bullying and arbitrary and inhuman treatment. I remain absolutely disgusted that the workforce carrying out these outrages is highly unionised – being members of the union, PCS, that I was a member of for 12 years and a branch secretary of, for 3 years!!Creative Commons License
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