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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1,743 jobs applied for…. and still not good enough.

Yesterday was the day of our weekly demonstration outside the Jobcentre. We look forward to Thursdays because we know that it is the one day that we can make a difference. We have become quite well known now, and people pop along to say hello and to get advice.

We weren’t sure of how the atmosphere would be this week. We had the devastating election results and deep inside I thought that the people using the Jobcentre would be very downhearted. I was right. There was lots of frustration and anger yesterday, people holding their heads down as they walked in. They didn’t want to be noticed, and the atmosphere wasn’t brilliant. Their last hope of freedom from the tyranny that they are undergoing had gone. Knowing that we are going to have to undergo five more years of this is perhaps more than some can take.

One man stopped and spoke to us. He had applied for 1,743 jobs in a few months. The Jobcentre had told him that this wasn’t good enough.. why? Because only a few potential employers had emailed him back to tell him that he wasn’t successful. Of course this wasn’t his fault, but the Jobcentre in their infinite reason think that it is. The poor man was at the end of his teather. He said that all he wants is to get a job. He said that he remembered the old days when potential employers used to reply to your job application to tell you if you were successful or not. Though days are long gone. A few potential employers send out an email, but to most even sending out a standard acknowledgement email is much too much effort. People are far too disposable these days. A big thanks to the employers that do actually recognise their Job applicants.

A man stopped us and told us that what we need to get this government out of power is another Oliver Cromwell. Whilst I understood what he meant I know thats not possible. This government will try and get rid of any loophole that enables anyone to protest and campaign against them. I noticed that the snoopers charter is one of the first bills that they want to pass through parliament. Also the stopping of protests. I don’t think the public will let them get away with this. Well not lightly anyway, some of us will oppose this.

This got me thinking so I did a bit of research into the levels of benefit fraud. Just because Im sick of the demonising of the poor and immigrants. We get blamed for everything.

The total cost of benefits and pensions £180 billion.

New impact and benefit pensions £25 billion.

Tax fraud £15 billion

Unclaimed entitlements £17 billion

Benefit fraud £1 billion

Don’t you think that the tax fraud should be dealt with as a matter of great importance? i do but you can bet Cameron and co will not deal with it.

Lets put an end to this poverty prejudice that has taken over this country. Most people forget that whilst watching these terrible tv programmes and reading the gutter press that the could be next. Cameron has a list of his next targets and he’s ticking this list off one by one. He’s confident that he can demonise and punish the poor to such an extent that they won’t be able to fight back.

So lets challenge him. Stop watching these programmes, stop buying Murdoch empires newspapers. Stop funding and enabling this Tory party dictatorship to destroy the poorest and most vulnerable like never seen before.

Remember the people have the power, theres more of us than there is of them. Be kind and not judgement to those suffering.

Seven months of constant demonstrations.

Yesterday I was reminded by a comrade that we have now been demonstrating outside Ashton Under a Lyne Jobcentre for seven months. We have been there every Thursday and have been there in all weathers. Why do we continue you may ask? Someone said to me recently you aren’t making a difference. I can say the opposite, we are making a difference. Our presence has started the process of the DWP being held responsible for their actions. They of course don’t like this, but we aren’t there for them we are there for the victims of their cruel regime. The DWP got very nervous, not because we are violent, far from it. We aren’t aggressive but we are peaceful. We have one thing in common exposing the lies and the crimes in our eyes that are committed inside that building and others. They called us into a meeting, even tried to dictate to us how we could talk and where we could sit. We didn’t give in to their intimidation tactics, of course they denied everything but we have been proven to be truthful.

As a result people up and down the country started to take notice and that includes the media. The media have become very interested. Why? Because there are grave injustices being committed inside these buildings they call Jobcentres everyday. Ive been very lucky to be able to have my findings published in the morning star newspaper, Ive also had the odd thing posted in the mirror and the guardian. However I feel our biggest achievement so far is working with dispatches on their two recent programmes. At first I was nervous, I didn’t want any claimants being portrayed ina negative way. Their life’s are hard enough without this. But the producers assured me that it wouldn’t be like that and I agreed. As a result two fantastic programmes were made. Why are they so fantastic? Because they showed the reality of the situation and this is what we deal with every Thursday and in our advice sessions on Tuesday’s . 

We also help people with their claims and the problems associated with this. We also help people to appeal. I was recently told by someone that we don’t do enough to help and we should be helping people to take the government to court. Yes we do encourage this but our priority is stopping someone from starving or committing suicide. We have done this three times to our knowledge. My local council have called me a bag lady who should be inside the Job centre looking for a job instead of standing outside. I find that very insulting towards all homeless people up and down the country, and if this person actually knew what job centres were like they would also know that you cannot just walk into a job centre and look for work anymore. It’s far more complicated now.

Will we carry on? Yes we will continue to be there from 1-3 every Thursday. People depend on us being there. I for one will never stop this campaign until this whole regime stops. One death is a death too many.  I’d like to thank my comrades for supporting me and each other we all have a common cause to raise awareness and to stop this. I would like to thank the Green Party for supporting me with this. I am standing in the parlimentary elections and the local elections again for the Green Party. I want change and a fairer society. Is that too much too ask for? No I don’t think so. Each and every one of us can make massive changes to this world if we want to. Please join us in our fight against this system and the quest to help as much as we can.

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.

Sandra Gives The Game Away: Jobcentres Given Sheriff’s Stars For Hitting Benefit Sanction Targets

Sandra Gives The Game Away: Jobcentres Given Sheriff’s Stars For Hitting Benefit Sanction Targets.

Its Christmas sanction time. A gift from the government that just keeps taking.

Yes its that time of year. The run up to Christmas. The time of year where Jobcentre staff are told to reach their quota of sanctions before the Christmas holidays. You see they cant sanction for those few days. But the person either on JSA or Universal Credit must constantly search for jobs. Even on Christmas day. Even on Boxing day. Even when you have the audacity to be ill.  Today a man found out that he had been sanctioned because he was ill in bed with a severe chest infection. He wasn’t shirking. He wasnt pretending. He was ill. The doctor had given him a sick-note. But this isn’t good enough. Even though this cruel government say that when you are unemployed you are allowed to be ill twice in a year. Yes twice. We feel blessed that they allow us this grace…. only we do not feel blessed. We feel downtrodden, humiliated, suicidal. This man will go without Christmas this year…. how is this right? It isn’t and I’msanction angry.

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Stand with us and be sanctioned. Jobcentre bullying at its worst.

Today we met at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for our regular Thursday demonstration. Nothing unusual at that. We are there every week to support the victims of the Jobcentres cruel sanctioning regime. What was unusual was that we were missing a regular attender. A member of the public that often attended our demonstrations. A nice quiet man, well mannered and very unassuming. He can see the injustice of the system. He had however passed a message onto us saying that he couldn’t attend because the Jobcentre staff had threatened him with sanctions for attending. He would however join us at our meeting after the demonstration away from the Jobcentre. When he joined us I quickly interviewed him and here is a transcript of that interview. In his own words. I cannot name him because he is scared. Hes been threatened by the Jobcentre.

“I walked into the Jobcentre for my regular signing on appointment. They asked me to wait in the waiting area. They checked my action plan and said everything was ok. The advisor then said can I ask you what you were doing outside the Jobcentre on Thursday? I said I was talking to the people outside who were demonstrating. She then tried to get information out of me by asking lots of questions. I refused to answer. She then got annoyed because I wouldn’t tell her what I said to them and what they said to me. She then said “well do you really know what you are getting yourself into?”” We and and will sanction you for talking to them. We will sanction you for standing with them or even talking to them.”

I’m sorry if the above conversation isn’t grammatically correct, Its in his words. The words of a scared man. A man now too scared to talk to his friends. When were the Jobcentre given the right to tell people who they can talk to in a public space on a public footpath? It is our basic human right to protest. One which is upheld by British law. Seems that Ashton Jobcentre have a law book of their own.

We need you to join us every Thursday between 1 and 3 at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. We need to show them that what they are doing is totally illegal in every respect.

Meanwhile our friend is sat at home worrying about the prospect of a sanction for doing nothing wrong, How is that fair? It makes me angry.

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