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.

http://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=K47PHPHS5XYRC” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>.

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. 

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Vulnerable and refused help

Last weeks demonstration was eventful to say the least, there must have been an even bigger wave of negativity blowing through Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, which it seemed was larger than the normal one circulating.
Within minutes of arriving we were alerted to a situation that was developing inside the doorway of the Jobcentre. A man, obviously distressed was shouting for help. He was very agitated, the DWP receptionists and the G4S security guard were not helping the situation at all. They were exacerbating it, making you man feel completely helpless. Their idea of “helping” was to stand there, one with arms folded, the other saying I’m on the phone to the police. They were not interested at all in what he was upset about. Get him out quick was their attitude.
He stormed out of the building and I ran after him, I was worried that he would put himself at risk in some way, and I also wanted to let him know if I could help.
He explained that he had been made homeless, he was on high rate ESA payments and he was anxious because he couldn’t access his money due to having no identification. To remedy this his bank suggested that if the Jobcentre would print off a very simple letter stating who is is then he could access his money.
Now I already know that the Jobcentres don’t as a rule print off letters, but there will be special circumstances where this could be allowed. Anyway, I’m not sure if there is an actual ruling about this, or they have just stopped doing this now. Either way it’s a terrible situation which could be easily prevented in the correct, polite manner.
I told him that I would go into the Jobcentre and ask the manager or supervisor if there was anyway that this gentleman could be helped. I walked into the building and was met by the same two men, both with arms crossed. They said ‘we aren’t dealing with you because you are part of the protest’. I explained that I was there in my personal capacity and was trying to diffuse a situation that really didn’t need to have happened, that this gentleman was vulnerable and therefore by denying him this simple request thry were preventing him from accessing food, heating and the basics needed to exist. Their answer was “we don’t care”.

This is not an unusual scenario by any means, however I felt compelled to inform readers that this happens everyday at Jobcentres up and down the country.
Denying a vulnerable man access to his money knowingly controvenes basic human rights acts. So arrogant are they, that they are beyond caring. I also wonder how once normal caring people can turn into heartless, uncaring drones. One thought is that they become indoctrinated by the whole system and their working environment that their humanity button gets turned off.

The gentleman returned later and came up to me and shook my hand. He said thank you for helping me, and he appreciated it. The police had caught up with him and asked him if he was ok. He said no, and they asked him if he was going to apologise to the Jobcentre staff. His reply was never, if they had listened it would never have happened, however he said he was going to go back and to thank that lady that helped him which he did.He’s been in my thoughts all week and I hope that he’s ok.

We are the real Daniel Brakes #IamDanielBlake

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!

Sanctioned for not writing long enough sentences and new shiny windows at the Jobcentre.

Yesterday when I arrived at the Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre I thought I was seeing things. They had taken down the paper that was covering the windows. Great I thought, the claimants will feel much more secure knowing that they can see outside now. I would have thought that they would have felt very intimidated upon entering a building that you can’t see out of. I walked. Up to the building and I noticed that they had placed some kind of reflective film on the glass, presumably so we can’t see inside. We don’t look inside anyway we are too busy helping people and handing leaflets out. My question is this. At what expense was this decision to put up reflective coatings on the glass? And who’s decision was this? Once again we come in peace and this is not needed at all. 

Whilst standing outside a young woman approached me. She looked like she was in her early 20s and she looked very stressed. I asked her what was wrong. She replied “Ive had no money since October nothing. They sanctioned me for not writing long enough sentences on my job search. I’m not stupid I did everything right. I know I did. I keep asking for a hardship form and they keep refusing me, I know that’s illegal and I am appealing but I’m so frustrated. You see Im lucky because I live with my mum but it’s very hard on her. She can’t afford to keep me, ive got brothers and sisters that need feeding as well. I know she’s angry, she’s beginning to resent me being there but if I leave I will have no where and won’t be able to eat. If that happens Im thinking the worst because there isn’t any other way around it” I gave her some advice and a hug. She needed both. She said I know that I’m not alone because you lot are here.

Later on another young man walked over to me and spoke to me. It’s hard to tell his age because he’s so thin. Not being able to eat ages you dramatically.Ive wrote about him before, his sick notes aren’t good enough the Jobcentre say…. Even though they are. He suffers from clinical depression after a series of tragic events took him to nearly taking his life. He’s had no money since October as well. I asked him how is he doing. He said he’s so hungry he’s had a bit of food off a food bank but he has to make it last. He said he came over to tell us that he’s still here, that his sick notes aren’t good enough but he wanted to thank us for being there. He said we are the only reason why he is still here. “You’ve given me hope. Before I saw you all I had nothing. My world had been destroyed and I was close to taking my life. I know that you are all here for me and that keeps me going” I wanted to meet him this coming week but he’s got lots of appointments at the hospital. His doctor is very concerned about him. He said he would have lost his flat if we hadn’t told him that he could still claim housing benefit on a zero income basis.

Another man approached me he said “hello my diamond you will never guess what ive got a job!! Thank you for being there for me I will keep in touch” that also brought tears to my eyes. 

This is just a usual Thursday outside the Jobcentre. And this is why we are there every week. Next Thursday is the national day of demonstrations against sanctions. It has been organised by unite the union and I urge everyone to join us all in standing outside your local Jobcentre to demonstrate against the sanctions. We will be outside as usual.

And a big thank you to dispatches for making two truthful programmes about the whole corrupt system. We enjoyed working with you. A massive thanks to the Green Party for supporting us and to the Morning Star newspaper for publishing my articles. 

We don’t think that this should be allowed to continue. One death is a death too many.

The irony of this poster. We don’t condone violence in any way. We just wish the DWP would start treating people with respect….