Exclusion and life below the poverty line. 

Hi folks, I’m writing an extra blog in response to feedback given to me on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I put out the question ‘Would anyone like an extra blog per week, something a bit different to the posts about the demos’. The response was unanimous. A big yes, if I have the time so here it is. 
One subject that I am constantly reminded about is exclusion.

 I know that this will also be familiar to my readers also, but at times it can be blatantly obvious, and at other times not so obvious. 

Before I start writing further, I should explain my position to anyone that isn’t aware. I have no magic money tree, I’m just like you, like millions of people living in the uk. 

I’m a single parent, I live way below the poverty line and have had first hand experience of the DWP system and illness. LIfe isn’t easy for most of us, but I’m not complaining even though I should complain more. I have a wonderful daughter and amazing friends. At times I must try their patience. 
Exclusion comes in many forms, and anyone living in poverty wether it be relative poverty or absolute poverty will experience this, although the severity of it does differ. To put it bluntly the less money that you have, the less you can do. 

I hear friends talk about trips out, I’m sure that you do too, it’s lovely to hear about their adventures, but a the same time it serves as a reminder that apart from local free days out in reality its not an option. 
The  other week I had to pay for a school trip for my daughter. Parents will be familiar with this scenario. The children are excited about the prospect of a day out with their friends, whilst we go into a state of dread and panic worrying about how we are going to pay for this. Many children don’t go, their parents keep them at home. And the school system punishes the child for having time off school. They won’t get their 100% attendance award, a punishment on top of their missed day out. 
As an adult being poor also excludes you from trips to the nearest biggest town, clothes shopping, doing what I call ‘big shops’ yes, Peter Kay is correct in stating that we say these things. I also say ‘big light’. I’m a northern lass and proud of it. Bus fare in my area is very expensive, so the only option is to walk unless you are lucky enough to have a bike. 
Trips to the Cinema, or ‘Pictures’ as I still call it are totally out of the question, going out for a drink is also and having a meal in a restaurant is the stuff of dreams. And yes we do dream about being able to do these things. 
A trip to the Supermarket, if it’s in walking distance becomes an obstacle course in itself. For many people, especially those living in rural areas, there isn’t any choice in where they shop. So they time it for when the yellow stickers go on the food. Believe me it can be a challenge trying to get the bargains that have been reduced, but when you do you hold onto them like they are gold, afterall they can keep a family from hunger for the week. 

It’s not just about material things though, although they do matter. Alongside this comes the loneliness, the isolation and the knowledge that you are ‘different’ than others around you. Taking part in something positive to do can stop a person from spiriling down into the depths of depression. But we just have to accept that we can’t do these things even though we would like to. And small things do matter. 
Friends become fewer, opportunities become fewer and health often becomes worse. 

With a poor diet, illness often accompanies it. It’s no surprise that there has been a return of victorian illnesses such as Rickets in children because children just don’t get access to a varied diet, and the sunlight that’s needed to prevent this. 

Adults and children have to deal with illnesses such as depression, anemia, insomnia, hypothermia, malnutrition, anxiety and many more besides. Whilst the government is busy selling off the NHS to the likes of Richard Branson, the demand is getting higher. We won’t be able to afford medical insurance it’s not an option. 


Why am I writing this you may ask? Everyone must know all this? The reality is, no not everyone does know this. The Tory Party is aware of this but choose for their selfish reasons to ignore it and make it purposely worse. There’s no use in asking for them to be sympathetic. They re created this cruelty in a very conscious way. 

I’m writing this to raise awareness, for people to be a little more understanding of each other. 

The next time a child’s parent’s can’t pay a school trip, don’t criticise and moan about it, instead understand the reasons why they can’t pay. No parent actually wants to exclude them from a school trip, and if a child gets a subsidised place, good on them, don’t hold it against that child or parent. It takes a lot to admit to a school that they can’t afford to pay for a school trip. 

If a child arrives at school in a less than pristine uniform show compassion instead of criticism. Ask the school if they can start a school uniform clothes bank. Some schools already have these. 

If a friend can’t join you for a night out, or a trip to the cinema, don’t show off about it in front of them, nor should you talk about them behind their backs. Instead ask them how they are feeling and be a good friend. 

If a person is hungry show them where the nearest food bank is, or offer compassion. Compassion costs nothing. If you can buy them a sandwich then that might just make them feel human again. Giving someone hope will also do this. 

People shouldn’t be tossed aside because they supposedly dont ‘fit in’. Everyone is important, and so are their right to a decent standard of living. 

More and more people are excluded from housing, vulnerable people left on the streets to beg whilst low funded organisations try and help them, try to keep them safe and feed them. The government has completely absolved themselves from any responsibility, nor do they care about how many people die as a result. 
People are made to feel worthless, subhuman and unimportant by the DWP system of sanctioning and failed medicals which are still being conducted by the likes of Atos. People are dying everyday as a result, but the government just shrug their shoulders and look the other way. 

A WASPI lady committed suicide after the general election because she felt stressed, unworthy and unwanted. Isolated at a time when she should have been enjoying her retirement. Once again the government don’t care. 
On Friday I had to travel to Manchester, something that I don’t do as regularly as I used to. I had to use the public loos and I started a conversation with two young homeless women. They were lovely women, bright, bubbly and friendly. They told me about their life on the streets, and the difficulties they face every day. Both told me that they had been begging all morning and hadn’t got any money, they needed a pound so I gave it to them. They also needed a hairbrush so I gave them mine. I got hugs from them, and smiles that I haven’t seen for a long time. I couldn’t change their situation, but a little bit of kindness gave them hope that people do care. And thats all it takes sometimes. 
In an ideal world we would have a society that wouldn’t exclude anyone, where everyone would have a home, money in their pocket, food and have the support that they need. It’s called socialism and this country is crying out for it. 

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My money saving tips.

If like me you are beyond skint and need to save as much money as myself you might find these tips useful.

I have been using these ideas for years now and they have really helped. I’m always looking for more ways to save money and I live a very frugal life. I must add not out of choice but out of necessity.

If you haven’t tried any of these then give them a go, but please ensure that you are safe before doing so.

Today the temperature hit below zero and snow is predicted, so I have gone into full winter mode. You can never be too well prepared.

Clothes.

First layers really do make a difference. I always wear a thermal vest and legggings under my clothes. If its extra cold then an extra layer of thermals as well. I don’t wear skirts so wearing cheap leggings isn’t a problem. They are as warm as thermals but are half the price.

Hat. 

You know the old saying? Your never properly dressed without a hat? Well in winter this really makes a difference. We loose most of our heat from our heads when outside, so wearing a hat really makes a difference. A pound shop one works really well, they sell some really good ones.

Scarf. 

I used to hate wearing a scarf but they really do keep you warm. I always wear one now. It certainly keeps the chill off.

Gloves. 

I start with fingerless and then when it gets really cold I wear my fingerless gloves over my normal gloves. Pound shop gloves are fab and mine have lasted me years. Ive been lucky this year, a comrade has knitted me a lovely pair of fingerless gloves.

Footwear. 

Wear boots if you have any, if you haven’t put insoles in your shoes and in your boots. They will make your feet much warmer. In winter wear thicker socks if you have them.

If you do all or any of the above you should be much warmer. 

Around the home. 

I find these tips invaluable. If you can give them a go, they will save you money. I’ve been doing this for years.

Flower pot heater. 

This is invaluable. It will save you money but please keep safe and out of the reach of children. It does get hot.

Here’s a link off YouTube for you to watch. It’s worth the initial outlay.

Bubble wrap on windows. 

Don’t laugh, it might not look fantastic but it will keep your house warmer. I do this every year and it’s simple and easy to do.

You will need a few rolls of bubble wrap and a plastic spray bottle with water in. If you don’t have a spray bottle you can sponge the window down.

Cut the bubble wrap to the size of the window pane, not the frame. You only need to cover the glass.

Spray the window.

Place the bubble wrap on the glass flat side down. Do not put this outside of your house it’s meant to go inside.

Continue until your windows are finished.

The bubbles trap the air inside and keep your window warm by insulating them. Your windows will now feel warm to the touch.

Here’s some photos.

Ignore the mess. My cats insist on sleeping above the fish tank that has plants growing inside it. If it makes them happy then I don’t mind.

I hope that you found this useful. I know it’s a little different than the normal blog but I feel it’s important to share ideas.

Please donate to help keep the campaign going. If you can’t then share!

Thank you!
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Standing my ground. More G4S bullying at Thursday’s weekly demo. 

I arrived a little early for our demo on Thursday and as a result I thought that I would spend my extra time handing out our leaflets and giving advice if needed.

I got stopped by a very empowered lady. She is a claimant at Ashton Jobcentre and as a result of our standing outside the Jobcentre she has become empowered. She’s read her legal rights and she certainly uses them. She says when she’s inside the Jobcentre she hands leaflets out and doesn’t take any messing. She wanted me to tell the folk who read the blog to keep strong. She said that she would be joining us this Thursday. I can’t wait for her to join us.

It was a particularly cold day. I spoke to a woman who had not had any money since last August. They sanctioned her once and now keep adding sanction after sanction. We are trying to pursuade her to appeal, they had told her wrongfully that she couldn’t. Let’s hope that she follows our advice. But it’s hard when you are hungry and just can’t feel any hope at all.

As it was particularly cold I decided to stand at the front of the building out of the way of any doors, so not to cause an obstruction. I had found a little spot where it was a degree or two warmer. It was a blessing, my coat is very old now and it’s hard going out there.

Within 5 minutes of my standing there, a G4S security guard marched out demanding that I move. He couldn’t give me a reason why, but he had his usual grin on his face. Of course I didn’t move. I stood my ground very peacefully. No crime was committed and no harm was caused. After all I wasn’t causing an obstruction, I was polite and I’m sure the Job Centre is regarded as a public building. So there I stood, until I had to leave.


It’s becoming apparent that the DWP are showing as much compassion as previous years regarding the cold and allowing people to wait inside for their appointment. Claimants aren’t allowed to wait even if it’s for 10 minutes, and are sent outside in the freezing cold.
Now let’s get this right. Claimants do not want to enter a Jobcentre and they are hardly going to be abusing the “kindness” of the DWP by allowing them to stand inside whilst waiting for their appointment. So why are they being so petty? It’s all about control. Grind the claimants down as much as possible, so eventually they will do your bidding without question.

Regarding waiting inside the Jobcentre for your appointment. There is no official ruling stating that you can’t. They just like tell you that you can’t. So wait in the lobby of your local Jobcentre. Go and use one of their computers for 10 minutes or look at a few leaflets. It’s cold and you need to keep warm. Don’t let them bully you.

  

We will be back on Thursday between 1-3 to give our help and advice to those who need it. We will have hats and gloves with us to hand out. If you are cold grab one.
L

Rememberence service Thursday 17th December. 

It’s time for our second Christmas rememberence service. We can’t quite believe that we are still having to protest about the injustices that occur inside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre every Thursday. But we have made a commitment to be there for the claimants because they depend on us to be there.

Being poor is very isolating. You don’t have a social life and all you can think about is keeping warm and stopping yourself from feeling too hungry. Christmas is a particularly bad time of year. You are constantly reminded of what you don’t have. And as a result you avoid places that are commercial etc. It’s much better to stay at home where you don’t have to be reminded of just how little you have.

We know this so we will be handing out hats, scarfs, gloves, mince pies and hopefully a few biscuits. These always go down well. We have found that a lot of claimants do not have warm clothing and just a warm hat can make such a difference.

We will be remembering those that have passed as a result of the draconian rules implemented by this government. Wether it be a sanction or a failed medical by the gods of ATOS or Maximus. Everyone is important to us. And in light of this we will be laying down a wreath along with a memorial service in their name.

We would love it if you could come and support us. If you can’t attend please share or hold your own memorial service or lay a wreath at your local Jobcentre.

The service will be held from 12.30-3 101 old street Ashton under Lyne Lancashire

Thank you so much for your continued support. We really do appreciate it.

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Your sick notes aren’t good enough claim Ashton under Lyne Jobcentre

Yesterday our demo was a very busy one. From the minute we arrived to the minute we left we were inundated with terrible stories and people desperate for help. Nothing really shocks us anymore but it’s becoming very clear to see that universal credit is destroying life’s for both working and non working people.
A man who wanted to remain nameless has been claiming universal credit but he got sick so he did the responsible thing, he went to his doctor and got a sick note. The doctor stated on his sick note his medical condition so he took it into the Jobcentre. He was told that this sick note wasn’t good enough and that he needed to get another one because it needed the words written on it.. “He’s got worse”. He went back to the doctor got another sick note but the doctor quite rightly said I can’t write that in a sick note but I can write your condition which will explain it. He took his third sick note in and they said again… It’s not good enough. Since when were the Jobcentre advisors or coaches as they now like to be called fully trained medical officials? This man is very obviously Ill. He was cold and hungry and very fed up about the whole situation. He said that all they have ever done to him is to treat him like rubbish, like something that you step on in the street. He’s not had any money for a long time now either. He said they he felt like what they wanted him to do was to disappear and not to come back because they just want to save money regardless. He’s right they do. We let him use one of our phones to make a claim for esa because he didn’t have any access to a phone and the Jobcentres no longer have any phones available to the public.

Another man came over and spoke to us. He’s unfortunate enough to be claiming universal credit. They have totally messed his money around and has had a total of £420 paid to him since last September. This had to be used to pay his rent. He is now in the process of being evicted from his home because he’s hasn’t had any more money due to their mistake. He’s now preparing to say
goodbye to his home that he’s had for many years. He hasn’t had any money for food, gas or electric and is surviving on a day to day basis from the kindness of friends and foodbanks. Universal credit is an evil cruel system. At one click of a button a persons every lifeline is cut off. It’s evil in my eyes. Yesterday four people came to us and told us that they were being evicted from their homes due to universal credit mistakes by the dwp. These people hadn’t spent their money because they hadn’t received their money.

A woman walked over to us yesterday. She said that even though she had only £19 to her name and wouldn’t have anymore money for a while she would like to give us 50p towards our cause. We tried to refuse this saying that she didn’t have enough money but she wasn’t listening. So she accepted a nice warm hat and gloves because she was freezing.

This is what we are dealing with on a weekly basis but this is happening on a massive scale everyday to thousands of people up and down the country. Please join us in opposing this and do whatever you can to fight against this punishing regime.

Many thanks to everyone who attended yesterday and to everyone who supports us. Many thanks to karl who brought us all a hot cuppa we need it.
We are in need of donations of hats, gloves and scarfs so if you are passing and you have one spare please drop one off. Thank you so much.

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Making a phone call on one of our phones because the Jobcentre have now no facilities for telephone calls and this gentleman needed some help. This government should be ashamed.