Sanctioned for not being able to sign on on bank holiday Monday. Tears, frustration and rain.

Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.

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We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy.  But it’s a whole lot harder for them.

I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at  Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also. He mentioned that some of the advisors at Stalybridge could be awful, but Ashton Jobcentre felt positively hostile. I had to agree with him. The frontline staff has a habit of making a person feel like they are guilty of committing some heinous crime, when in fact their only crime and it isn’t a crime is being poor.

You really have to experience this to understand what I’m talking about. I experienced the same treatment when I used to have to sign on there. It was awful, with G4S security guards taking personal details to check appointments. Of course, this is illegal but the DWP and their employees seem to be immune to any type of action being taken against them. One day I’m sure that their time will come.

He also explained to us that he had failed his ESA medical and was in the process of appealing, so until he can prove that he has launched an appeal he has had to submit a claim for JSA. He knows the score and what to do but it doesn’t make it easier does it. So he is now in no man’s land, waiting for everything to be processed and it is a horrible place to be.

Whilst I was standing outside the Jobcentre I spotted a man walk in, who was very obviously disabled and in discomfort. He didn’t want to speak on his way into the Jobcentre but chose to do so on the way out. He has an injury to his knee and it’s in a large knee support, and because he was claiming Universal Credit he was handing sick notes in to cover him for this period of time. I advised him that he could claim ESA if the injury is going to cause a disability that might take some time to recover from and he took that advice on board. The DWP hasn’t made his life easy though and they are continuing to mess him about with his payments. Unfortunately, he didn’t go into great detail but I advised him and gave him a leaflet. I also asked him if he wanted a food parcel. He said no, he would be ok but his father who was stood behind him said: “Yes we do, I’m having to feed you and I have very little money”.  Having been in this situation myself, I gladly gave him a food parcel and at least they will eat better this week.

This is another hidden issue that not a lot of people speak about. I’ve been in this position myself and it’s very hard looking after a relative who has had their lifeline taken off them by the DWP for whatever reason that may be.

I felt a lot of stress and hardship when I had to do this, so this could well be what many people feel like when they are in the same situation. Cooking for one extra person might not seem to be a lot, but it soon mounts up. Also, there are the extra bills that have to be paid such as gas, electric etc. Managing from day to day is very hard indeed and demands on food banks and similar organizations grow as a result.

If a person has no family then it’s a dire situation to be in, so please have sympathy with those forced into this awful situation which wasn’t of their choice.

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I spoke to a man who was rushing down the road to talk to me. He was so upset. His situation has spiraled out of control, and he hadn’t followed up our advice on what to do and where to go. Seeking help is often very hard. It takes courage and swallowing of pride. Asking for and accepting help is very hard indeed.

I told him of a local organization that he can go to straight away to get some immediate help and that he must go now. The nights are getting cold and with his health conditions, I didn’t want him sleeping on the streets. I gave him a food parcel and a colleague (Karl) gave him a lift up to this organization. It was vital that he went, so we made sure that he did. Thanks, Karl.

We then started talking to a lady who had also previously attended Stalybridge Jobcentre. She also informed us of how different Ashton Jobcentre is. She wasn’t happy. She had been diagnosed with Bi Polar years ago but is new to the signing on  process and she was understandably overwhelmed. It was then that she started crying, saying that she is 58 years old and cannot physically look for work eight hours a day. She doesn’t know how to use computers and the system has confused her.

We advised her to make a claim for ESA and advised her of how to do this and where to go to get help to do so. She also said that she had no friends, so I told her that I would be her friend as did other members of the group. The tears disappeared and she felt supported and loved. This is exactly why we are there every week and will continue to be.

I also spoke to a young man who had been given a signing on appointment for the previous bank holiday Monday. Yes folks, bank holiday Monday. Of course, he couldn’t sign on and he informed the Jobcentre of this. The DWP were totally unsympathetic of course and informed him that he was now sanctioned for not attending. You really couldn’t make this up, could you?

It’s not the first time that we have seen this though and it isn’t unusual. He is appealing and he will win and overrule this sanction, but in the meantime, he is without money. We gave him appropriate advice and signposted to all local groups. Let’s hope that he takes this up.

I and a colleague started talking to a man who was a former policeman. He had taken early retirement and was attending the Jobcentre just to keep up his national insurance contributions. He told us of his struggles and that he is really struggling to manage on the pension that he has been given. I advised him to go to the local Citizens Advice centre where they can do a full benefit check for him. He says that he has now been forced back to looking for work, and will hopefully get one within the police force. He didn’t have a nice word to say about the Jobcentre and I don’t blame him.

We started talking to a lovely young woman who had lost her job due to no fault of her own. She had been working at a children’s day nursery and had been exploited, both of the hours and work that she was expected to do, but also because of her good nature. I can’t elaborate more due to the fact that she might be taking further action about this through her union. She might not, but I don’t want to ruin her chances of doing so if she does.

This is another issue that is growing sadly. The exploitation of staff by management at some private day nurseries. They usually employ young staff members and overwork them. of course, some don’t, and kudos to those that don’t. But for a long time now I have been hearing these stories. The apprentice scheme at these day nurseries can also exploit them, I’ve heard some awful stories about this also. It’s about time that all apprenticeships are properly regulated because young people should not be exploited. Young people should be respected because they are, after all our future.

We also had a few people in cars shout over to us saying the old ‘Get a job’ as if they were the first people to say it. It’s not clever nor is it smart. And to drive away as fast as they can makes them cowards in my eyes.

If they actually stopped and spoke to us they would realize that most of us are working, but on very limited incomes or retired. Sadly I’m used to it now.

Today we handed seven food parcels out, many thanks to Pat and the gang at Glossop for that. Many thanks also to Tom for the sandwiches that he donated they made a big difference.  We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

It honestly never ends. The suffering never ends and it is getting much worse than it ever has been. Even if we by some miracle could change governments tomorrow it will take years and I mean years to rectify the damage caused by this awful government. I really don’t have a clue how people will survive.

Next week is our four-year anniversary demo and the theme for this one is ‘Prisoners of the state.’ Please come and join us 10-12 Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old Street Ashton Under Lyne.  We also will hopefully have some special guests coming along. Tea and coffee will be available for all.

Please share my blog, talk about it, and there is a donate button below if anyone would like to donate.

Thank you.

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A very interesting document. Please read… And please share…..

Today I received a very interesting document. It consists of the governments latest plans regarding sanctions. It makes very interesting reading. That is if you don’t get too angry and stop reading. For this reason I have taken out the “worst” bits. I shall put a little explanation alongside each one. Sources of this document etc shall remain nameless but you need to read this and share it.

LIE!!….Sanctions make people too scared to live, too scared to do anything but what the Job Centre tell them to do. SANCTIONS KILL.

Support is also given with job-searching and skills but at its heart the system relies on people seeking employment for themselves. It is therefore critical to get people to comply and we know sanctions play an important role in encouraging claimants to comply. DWP research shows[5] that:
72 per cent of JSA claimants and 61 per cent of ESA claimants said awareness of sanctions made them more likely to follow rules; and 63 per cent of JSA claimants and 44 per cent of ESA claimants said awareness of sanctions made them more likely to look for, or take steps to prepare for work.

Lie number 2… People leave because they either commit suicide, starve or take themselves off the system altogether because they cant deal with the stress anymore. Most do not find work. They either do the above or are on the work programme.
And for the most part where people do comply with conditions of entitlement, the majority leave benefit quickly, over 80 per cent of new claimants to JSA leave the benefit within 6 months.

AND THEY LIE AGAIN….So basically there are no rules… that’s why they get away with the usual “we don’t think that you have taken enough measures to look for work”. This is usually a lie and in over 85% of cases its proven to be… but they aren’t answerable to anyone.
Where claimants do fail to comply they have the opportunity to explain why they have failed. All evidence is considered by an independent decision maker and where the claimant had good reason no sanction will be applied. There is no prescriptive list of what is considered good reason – it should be based on an holistic appraisal of the claimant’s circumstances.

THIS IS VERY VERY WRONG!!!!!!! THE WORDS WELL YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TOLD THEM THAT YOU WERE PREGNANT THEN STILL RING IN MY EARS!!

A sanction will never be imposed if a claimant has good reason for failing to meet requirements.
Claimants are always made aware of their right to appeal before any sanction is imposed. Claimants may appeal any decision to sanction their benefit by requesting a mandatory reconsideration by DWP. DWP will reconsider all decisions before any appeal, so that only unresolved disputes go to an appeal hearing. If the decision remains unchanged claimants may appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.

ANOTHER LIE!!!! CLAIMANTS ARE RARELY TOLD ABOUT HARDSHIP PAYMENTS AND ARE REGULARLY REFUSED HARDSHIP FORMS!!
We have improved the hardship payment process so that no one is sanctioned without being told about hardship payments. We have sped up the hardship payments process across our Contact Centres, Jobcentres and Benefit Processing sites to ensure claimants receive payment within three days of representation, where appropriate. This commenced on 14 July 2014.

WHAT EXACTLY WILL THEY HAVE IN MIND FOR A NON FINANCIAL SANCTION? ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD PLEASE.
We have accepted in principle a number of Oakley recommendations including the recommendation to pilot a new approach using warnings and non-financial sanctions following a first failure to comply with conditionality on the Work Programme. We will consider further the potential options and likely timescales of testing such an approach.

IT IS THE CLAIMANTS GIFT TO END THE SANCTION… AND HOW DO YOU DO THAT? BY ENDING YOUR LIFE OR DISAPPEARING? THIS SENT SHIVERS DOWN MY SPINE. HOW EVIL CAN THEY GET?
We have also adopted a different approach for sanctions which will be implemented under Universal Credit which is designed to drive better engagement and compliance. There are four levels of sanctions which depend on a claimant’s conditionality group. We are also introducing open-ended low level sanctions, e.g. for failure to attend an appointment. Therefore, it is in the claimant’s gift to end the sanction to emphasise personal responsibility.

This is all very scary. Scary because they actually believe their lies and scary because there are many unwritten implications here, The one that unnerves me the most is non-financial sanctions…

Please share, please start shouting, please start telling the government that this isn’t right. To leave a person without the ability to eat or drink breaks just about every human right law that exists and they need to be held accountable. Sanctions kill that’s the reality.

Merry Christmas one and all. The baby that survived his mothers sanctioning.

10687207_697282403722649_5533992748708273346_nI look at this photograph of this baby and I see a miracle. This is the baby born to the lady who was sanctioned whilst she was 23 weeks pregnant. Ashton Under Lyne Job centre told her that it was tough she was pregnant and not ill so she should just get on with it. Luckily his mother didn’t starve, although if it wasn’t for the kindness of others she would have done. She was traumatised. It wasn’t bad enough that she was forced to attend a totally unfair workfare placement whilst she was 23 weeks pregnant… nope Ashton Under Lyne Job centre had to go that step further and sanction her for not breaking the law.. for confirming the fact that she was pregnant with B&Q when they asked her. This sanction was totally illegal and contravenes every human rights law that exists. She was left without heat, food and the very basic elements needed to live. And as a result of the stress I am sure her baby was born 5 weeks early. Are we living in Victorian Britain? No we are not but it is a country that the Victorians would recognise. In fact Charles Dickens would probably use this story as a basis for one of his novels.

We need to stop all these illegal sanctions and we need to hold this government responsible for their actions. I for one will not give up with this campaign. Remember when you look at this photo of this baby remember that he is very lucky to be here.. it could have been very easily another story and another two deaths hidden from the death statistics that the government fail to release… why you may ask? Because they will not be able to retaliate against the public outcry. This is murder and legalised eugenics in mine and others eyes.

Our memorial service yesterday. What a poignant day.

It was a wet, windy and cold day. The weather couldn’t have been possibly worse. I was panicking a bit that people wouldn’t come to the memorial service because of this. I was wrong. We arrived and started to organise ourselves. Within minutes people started to arrive. More and more people started to arrive. Lots of hugs and hellos were exchanged so much for the Job Centre accusing us of being aggressive.
The Rev David Grey arrived. He said hello and decided to go into the Job Centre to introduce himself and to offer any workers counselling if needed. They responded very curtly.. No we aren’t interested we have our own.. After spending a few moments inside he returned to us saying that they were quite aggressive in their tone to him. A few minutes later the police arrived, the Job Centre accused him of making them feel intimidated …. Nothing could be further than the truth… He showed nothing but compassion towards them…This just shows how indoctrinated they are.
We performed a little ceremony led by the Rev David Grey which was very very moving. He’s a very wise man.
My daughter was asked to lay the wreath.. As she was about to do so she stopped in her tracks. She was scared she said that the woman that had previously sanctioned her whilst pregnant was staring at her and she was scared. We all rallied round and gave her the confidence to lay the wreath. We applauded her for this because it took a great deal of bravery on her part. Eliza then went on to read the list of the dead that is published by the Black Triangle Campaign. It took over half a hour to read… We were all close to tears. All questioning why is this being allowed to happen? Why aren’t those who are committing these crimes held responsible for them?
Unison then handed in an official letter to the Job Centre… They refused to let him in at first and then tried to get a G4s security guard to take the letter… Which was of course refused…. He managed to hand it to a Job Centre member of staff.
We then sang some songs and said a few more words. We caused no trouble, we came in peace. In solidarity of those lost due to the benefit reforms. Our wreath has been removed.. Most likely thrown in the bin by the Job Centre.. But we will never forget this day…… The day that humankind brought kindness and compassion to Ashton Under Lyne Job Centre.

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