Todays demo, desperate people and a visit from Ray Woolford, author of the book Food Bank Britain.

I’ve just returned home from our weekly demo feeling a bit elated instead of deflated. That makes a change these days.

To start with the weather was wonderful, not raining and a bit sunny which always makes things easier. Not only for us, but for the people having to use the Jobcentre. There’s nothing worse than the rain and cold weather, and we get lots of both.

Roy arrived early with the food parcels, which was fab because it’s nice not to be standing alone, and because they are needed straight away. People are waiting for them which is a sad indictment of the governments attitude towards the poor.

As we were setting up, I spotted a lady and her young child stood at the corner of the Jobcentre. She was looking at the food parcels, and she looked a bit lost. I walked over to her, handed her a leaflet and asked her if she was ok. She wasn’t ok, no surprise there sadly. She’s going through a traumatic time at the moment and her money had been stopped due to no fault of her own.

I had a chat with her, signposted her to relevant organisations and handed her a food parcel to keep both her and her child going. She was so happy to receive this and at least she knows that she has some food to tide her and her child over.

Two of my friends surprised me today and arrived unexpected at the demo. Karl walked over with a nice cup of coffee for myself, which I shared with Roy. How nice was that of him. Little things like that mean a lot because the work that we do is hard and it gives us hope.

My friend Lel arrived showing compassion and solidarity. She brought her little boy who is adorable and it was a joy to see them both.

I spoke to a man who to be honest had just had enough. He told me that he had total solidarity with us all because he knows that we are telling the truth. He went on to say that he had worked all his life, but sadly had become ill. He had lost part of one leg, and the toes off his other leg. He didn’t want a food parcel, he just wanted to chat.

He said that it is wrong that people are targeted because they become ill, disabled and fall on hard times. That’s what we pay our national insurance for he said, and he’s correct.

He told us how unfair he thinks the ESA medicals are and told of the struggle that his friend has recently been through. His friend had attended their medical, and despite several illnesses had been refused their ESA payments. They are appealing though and have been signposted to the relevant organisations that will help with that. We never leave anyone without the necessary information and help. Today, this gentleman just needed someone to listen to because he feels marginalised and discriminated against, which he is of course.

Then Ray Woolford arrived. What an amazing campaigner, activist, author and all round good person he is. He had travelled all the way from London but yet it felt like \I had known him for forever. We do chat on Twitter though, maybe that’s why, or maybe it’s because we take the same stance on issues.

He is the author of the book Food Bank Britain, and I will put a link to it at the bottom of the blog. It’s a must read and I urge anyone that can afford to buy it to buy it.

Ray arrived bearing gifts. He brought a big flask for keeping drinks warm which we have needed for a long time now. It gets very cold outside the Jobcentre so now we can offer a warm drink to people, so thank you Ray. Also he gifted us a hi vis vest, both are given in the memory of an amazing campaigner, Christine Archibald, who was killed in the London Bridge terror attack. She was an amazing lady, who was a support worker for the homeless and her work will never be forgotten #chrissysentus

Even though Ray is based in London, we are experiencing the same issues, although we have experienced Universal credit for a lot longer than most areas. It was amazingly good to talk about these issues, and discuss and share ideas etc.

Ray you are a legend thank you so much.

Some of the food parcels were handed out to people who wanted to remain anonymous and I respect that. They are struggling supporting themselves and family members. Some are working and suffering  because of the benefit cap. It’s a very hard position to be in, because they are working they can find it hard to find help. But they were signposted and given food.

I spoke to a couple of WASPI ladies again, this time different women, both suffering as a result of not being able to claim their rightful pension. They have been shown a massive injustice and I really hope that they get their pensions.

I spoke to a young man who is receiving help from local organisations, so we just chatted and let him know that we are there for him to chat to as well. He’s doing so well and is a lovely young man.

Another young man shouted over to us saying that what we are saying is true, and that we should keep up the good work. He went on to tell me that he had just witnessed a lady being badly treated by her Jobcentre advisor after receiving a sanction. So I waited for her to leave, gave her a food parcel and signposted her to relevant organisations. I hope that I showed her some hope on such an awful day for her.

It’s hard to describe everything that we do in the space of two hours, but we do a lot. And we do our best to help everyone.

Today we had a good morale boost, made a new friend and helped lots of people. This is what we do best and whilst people still continue to need the help we will be there for them.

Please, if you are local to the Manchester area, come and say hello. We would love to meet you.

Many thanks to everyone that came along today, and to Steph who also made a special journey today. It is appreciated.

I am furious that the government treats people like this, but it’s expected from a Tory government. They care only for themselves, and unless a poorer person is of some value to them they will deprive them of their basic needs, humiliate them and degrade them. This is because this government does not hold any value on a working class person’s life unless they can make some money out of them.

Here is the link for Ray’s book.

 

 

http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/news-features/138/community-news/111800/antiausterity-campaigner-charlotte-hughes-guest-speaker-at-castleton-labour-meeting

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e155-Mental-health-The-vulnerable-suffer-what-they-must

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A hard morning. A man crying, rain pouring. It’s supposed to be August.

I’m not going to bother you with talking about the weather, I’ve said it in today’s blog title. It was raining AGAIN. Will we ever get a break, and have some good weather for once? My heart went out to Richard, a homeless chap who I buy a cuppa for most mornings and chat to. We always put the world to rights. He deserves a medal, such a nice man who has unfortunately fallen on hard times.

Gordon, who normally drops the food parcels off is currently unwell, get well soon Gordon! We missed you today! So Roy collected them also. He’s not feeling 100% well either, nor am I but we plod on and thank you so much, Roy, for your help and dedication.

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The food parcels went to people who had no food or very little through no fault of their own. it’s extremely hard to manage on the meagre amount of money that the government provides, that is, if you haven’t been sanctioned or refused your rightful claim of ESA. People still have to pay the bedroom tax and the council tax supplement. They also might have debts to pay, gas and electric to buy. The list never ends does it?

 

 

I spoke to a man who had been made homeless due to no fault of his own. He was living in very sub standard accommodation and had complained about it. The landlord then made the decision to evict him. I’m not sure about the exact details, but I do know that he hadn’t received adequate advice regarding how to claim housing benefit etc. If we had met him previously we would have done so.

He started to cry and went on to tell me that yes he does drink, but not to get drunk. Just enough to stop getting ill. “I’m 47 years old, I never expected that I would be living like this. I had a home, a life. I worked. Now I’m treated like crap and only a few care”

He took his phone out of his pocket and showed me the photos of his previous accommodation. To say it was disgusting is a massive understatement. No one should be forced to live like this and my heart went out to him.

We did signpost him to relevant organisations, and he assured us that he will work with them the best that he can do.

 

 

I said hello to a man that I’ve seen in my local area for a few years now. He’s a refugee and has managed to get permanent residence to stay and work in the UK.  His advisor is giving him a hard time though, most likely because his English is poor and from experience, they do target people with a poor grasp of the English vocabulary.

They have had him on daily signing on appointments for a long time now, he hasn’t been told why but he has to attend or get sanctioned. When a person is put on daily signings they are given a special card that gets them into the Jobcentre quickly. I would say a get out of jail card, but it’s more like a get in jail card. They told him that he wasn’t allowed to show anyone the card but I saw it. Their excuse is that it’s the property of the DWP. No, it’s not. If the gentleman has to carry this with him every day, then it’s his property. He can show who he likes when he likes.

Look out for people having to carry these cards. They are a sign that the person carrying it has been singled out for some reason, so it’s always worth asking them.

 

 

I spoke to an older gentleman who had been refused his ESA. I offered him help, but he is a man on a mission and was adamant that he will be appealing and he has it in hand. So hopefully he has, and hopefully, he will overturn that decision, as so many rightfully do.

 

 

I spoke to a young lad who has managed to find a bed at a local homeless hostel. He’s trying his best to sort his life out and to get on top of his mental health issues. It’s not going to be easy living there, but I could tell from what he was saying that he will do it.

 

 

We saw far too many older people forced to use the Jobcentre today, one man, in particular, looked very ill but didn’t want to speak to anyone. That place does that to you. The system can make a person shy away and become wary of society. They are treated like rubbish by their so called advisors, so expect the same from everyone else.

 

 

Once again, far too many WASPI women forced to use the Jobcentre and also far too many women with very young children. This also breaks my heart.

 

 

There were only four of us there today, I and Roy were on our own for a good while. It was tough, heartbreaking and stressful, but we will always be there to help others. They need the support.

 

Today should have been our 4th anniversary, but I made the decision to postpone our special demo because we have guests from other campaigns coming to visit in several weeks and I would like it to coincide with their arrival.

 

I couldn’t take photos because I left the big camera at home due to the rain, and the phone I’m using is rubbish so please forgive me. I am trying to rectify this though.

I’m tired, a tad fed up but I won’t stop helping those in need because their journey is far harder than mine.

 

 

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Thank you!

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Our third Christmas demo. An invite.

Hi folks.

Every year we like to pay respect and remember those whom we have lost as a result of  this governments relentless attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

We have had several themes, and because the government are determined to send us back to mid Victorian times we have decided to go for a Dickensian Christmas/ Workhouse theme.

Very apt seeing as the Jobcentre, Work Programme and Workfare are all the modern day equivalent of the Workhouse.

Regular members will be costumed, but because we aren’t funded we cannot provide costumes for everyone. But you can bring your own. We are merging all of Dicken’s characters, and we will be having Mr Bumble visit who will be representing the DWP.

I love street theatre, it is a very effective method of getting important messages across. I would love to hear from anyone who is involved in the theatre or film making for this project, and another I would really like to start. That would be a national event.

Please come along and read the event description, all details are contained in there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/202670863509828/?ti=icl


Many thanks.

Please donate if you can, if not please continue to share. Thank you so much!

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Don’t claim DLA claim JSA states Jobcentre worker to unwell lady. Striking Jobcentre workers and army recruitment tactics inside the Jobcentre.

I’ve been quiet for a while so many apologies for being away. Sometimes it just gets too much and last week was one of those weeks. I had to have a bit of time out and as a result I feel much better. When you are heavily involved with this type of work it can and does get to you. The injustice of it all gets too much. It seems like your fighting a lone battle, when in reality you aren’t. But you are stuck in a corner for a while screaming to be heard. 

I’m writing this on the day the some Jobcentre workers in Bolton are striking over their conditions whilst implementing universal credit. Whilst I fully sympathise and support them I can’t help to wonder why on earth aren’t they making a bigger noise about the way they are being forced to treat innocent people? They are also victims, indeed they are the bigger victims. Solidarity to those workers though. If I could be there I would be to show my support and to share the pain of the members of the public entering Jobcentres up and down the country. It’s a pity that my local Jobcentre didn’t see fit to strike… Maybe that’s a question that they would like to answer? 

Whilst handing out leaflets a very disabled lady came out of the Jobcentre. She was very upset and was close to tears. I handed her a leaflet and asked her what was wrong. She said that she suffers from a congenital medical condition. It causes her joints to unlock constantly and as a result she struggles to walk and depends on crutches and her friend to take her out in her car. She was obviously in a lot of pain and the struggle in her eyes was very obvious. She told me that she is on DLA but the Jobcentre had called her in. She showed me the letter, it was a compliance letter. The anger in her voice then became apparent. They had told her that she must come off her DLA and claim JSA and look for work. This woman is incapable of holding down a job. Why? Because she can’t sit down, she can’t stand up she can’t lift, she’s in constant pain and she survives on a mixture of very strong painkillers. She also is a regular attendee of the local hospital often spending nights in there and has to have operations etc. I told her not to come off her DLA, she has been awarded that because she obviously needs it. If we weren’t there she could well have done as they said. And that’s a very scary thought.. 

A man then walked out of the Jobcentre, he looked harassed and said to me “you’ve got to do something about the staff in there”. I asked him what was wrong and he said her went to sign on as usual and had complied with everything on the job search list. The advisor kept trying to trip him up and said ” if you ever fail to comply I will sanction you” with that he gave a smile… You know that sort of smile that’s half way between a smile and a sneer? He said it happens to him everytime he goes in and it feels like they want to sanction him every week. We advised him that he can change advisors, he said he would do.. But it isn’t right that they can be allowed to behave like this. The advisors that do should be challenged. 

We had the usual complaints of advisors being purposely rude to clients… There’s no need for it. They need to remember that if it wasn’t for them they wouldn’t have a job!!!

A member of the public was refused to be allowed to change his signing on time because he had a job interview…. Can’t win either way. If he doesn’t sign on his money gets stopped if he doesn’t go to the interview he gets sanctioned. It’s a loose loose situation. 

The other week we had the army recruiting in the job centre. Now you might think that this is ok, that’s a matter of opinion. However the tactics that they were using were shocking.. A member of the public enlightened us to what they were doing.. The officers that’s they sent to the job centre were junior members of the army and not qualified to recruit members…. The tactics that they were using went like this…. You aren’t going to get a job so you’ve got to join the army…. Now this is where I disagree. Joining the army is a personal choice often a vocation. You should never be forced into it, and this should never be allowed. Trading on the vulnerable to enrole.. What next compulsory signing up? Makes you wonder doesn’t it. 

A workfare provider happened to walk past our demo. She started to get very irate at the oldest member of our group, who works tirelessly to help others. She’s seen it all before but shame on this lady for her attitude. She was not willing to discuss any issues at all, she just kept repeating workfare is right, my company benefits from it. Of course they do… They profit by not having to pay a member of staff.. All I can say is that she lives in a totally different world than many people and didn’t have an ounce of compassion. Shame on her, maybe one day she will suffer like she makes those that slave for her do. Make no mistake it’s a modern form of slavery and needs to be stopped. Everyone deserves a decent days pay for a decent days work. Bring back properly paid work trials. They do exist but very rarely these days..also the number of people being employed after being on a workfare programme by the company they slave for is very very low.. We need to outlaw workfare. It does nothing to help, only to demoralise. It also is damaging the local economy. Less paid work, less people contributing to the local economy. It doesn’t make sense to anyone but a workfare provider.  

I run this blog on a shoestring and I would love to keep it going. Please donate to help keep our campaign going. We work very hard at this and it has become more or less a full time job for me.