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
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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. 

The case of the missing letters……

Nearly everyday someone tells me about their sanctioning stories. They all vary on the obscene and illegal reasons why they have been sanctioned. But the most common reason is that they didn’t attend an appointment. And guess why? Because they never recieved the letter in the first place.
Imagine this. You have a full time job. You loose you job because they no longer need you.. Not because you did anything wrong. You go to the Jobcentre to sign on and you are told that you are being made to go onto universal credit. Bad enough. Even worse you have to be looking for work on the universal job match website for all of those 35 hours. And we all know how that website is failing and has been proven to fail. This prevents you looking for real jobs and real work. Then by no fault of your own you become homeless. You are put into temporary accommodation. You inform the Jobcentre of your new address. They ignore this, they say they sent out letters to the old address even though they had been informed. The result is a 6 month sanction. The only way you survive is on hardship payments. You survive after the 6 months, you find somewhere to live but you become ill with depression and stress. The worry of not having enough food, somewhere to live and having to sit at a computer that you don’t have for 35 hours a week is too much. Your doctor signs you off as sick saying that your not fit for work. Your close to a breakdown. You go on the sick and quite rightly so. You begin to relax and start to get better. Then a letter arrived. We are going to sanction you because you failed to respond to a letter and an appointment sent on this date…. You realise that you were in full time employment on those dates and you have the proof of this. So they say well we will have to send it to a mandatory reconsideration!!!!
My issue is this. He never recieved such a letter as he was in full time employment and therefore wasn’t on any type of benefit.
My other issue is far too many letter are going missing from Ashton under Lyne job centre and other Job Centres up and down the country. Either they aren’t sent out in the first place…. I know this to be true in at least one case as the letter was seen in their file and wasn’t sent but they were still going to be sanctioned…. Or they aren’t wrote at all.
It’s an easy way to achieve your sanction target by claiming that they didn’t respond to a letter. It’s far too easy and it’s happening far too often.
I hope that we find all these missing letters. I’ve never known so many letters to go missing from one government organisation. It’s all a bit strange isn’t it.

Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre please can you explain why your sanction levels are higher than most? We are most interested. Especially when you denied this at the meeting we attended with you. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the missing letters would it?
Update. Upon waking I have had 12 messages and emails about sanctions as a result of missing letters… Just where are these missing letters?? Explain please!!!