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.

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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. 

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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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

You cannot serve two masters.. Universal credit and your employer.

Here are two different cases concerning universal credit and work. Both prove the point extremely well that universal credit and the  work conditionionality contract linked with this is completely unworkable. Politicians from all parties are not taking this issue seriously enough. Luckily we are.

Case one.
A housing association in Leeds are dealing with a tenant in Leeds who was unable to pay his rent after loosing his job with his employer. This is their story.
The person in question was employed by a company working between 16 and 17 hours a week. On his contract it stated that they were not allowed to apply for extra jobs with other companies. But their jobcentre advisor told them that they must, and he was advised to apply for a job with a rival company.
As you can imagine this didn’t go down too well, and the company that they  worked for sacked them for gross misconduct. They had obviously broken their work contract agreement.
The DWP awarded them for their diligence in applying for this second job by giving him a three year Sanction.
Why? Because they got sacked. Why? Because he had been told to look for a second job which clearly broke his employment contract.
Now what is interesting about this, is that approximately 40% of Jobcentre staff will be also on in work conditionality when they are switched over to universal credit. The DWP employee contract strictly prevents applying for an extra job, thus leaving them in exactly the same position as claimants. They will be stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. Do they apply for a second job and get sacked? And then sanctioned? Just like claimants? There is no choice really. It’s a no win situation.

Case two.
A young person, who wants to remain nameless were employed by a small company. Thet were on universal credit as they only worked 30 hours a week and needed the top up money.
Now, when our are claiming universal credit you have to have your phone on hand all the time. Failure to answer your phone to your advisor can result in a sanction.
This young person was constantly called at work by their advisor. His other two employees who were also claiming universal credit were also constantly phoned.
One day all three staff were called in to see their advisor on the same day. As a result he had to shut his business.
An altercation occurred the next day when he informed his staff that this couldnt shut the shop again, it cost him too much money, and the constant telephone calls were distracting both his employees and customers.
They argued that they had to keep their phones next to them and that they had to do whatever their advisor told them to do. As a result they were all dismissed and he now employs pensioners who are in proven receipt of pension credit. He says that he cannot afford to employ anyone on universal credit anymore.

Now this asks the questions. Are there more employers like this one? And if so have they had to do the same thing as he has?
Also sanctioning of working people as part of their in work conditionality is starting to become a big problem. They are doing their best to find work because they are working. Many are working under contracts which forbid them to gain other employment.
Other employees are driven to distraction by jobcentre advisors and constant job searches that actually being in work is actually becoming more stressful than actually being unemployed, which is stressful enough already. Being in work on universal credit does not pay at all.

Make no mistake, there is no unintended consequences with universal credit. It has been created as a mass disentitlement project and very careful planning was involved when creating it. It’s about time that every political party realises this.

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!

Our demonstration yesterday and a paralysed man told he has to apply for a job hod carrying roof tiles.

Yesterday was a very cold day and a  tough day to be standing outside. I arrived at the venue Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. I was greeted by two people from channel 5 wanting to speak to people that are living on universal credit. They are making a programme along the lines of benefits Britain . A programme that I despise. I said to them they are more than welcome to chat to people but their programme has nothing to do with our group. I made my feelings clear about how this programme and others like it have helped to demonise the poor. They said it would be different so I gave him the benefit of the doubt… But I will not hold my breath. Programme like that do nothing to help our cause.

Onto the terrible sanction stories heard yesterday. One woman given a 4 month sanction for not attending a computer course that they had supposedly sent her a letter out for her to attend. Guess what the letter never arrived. The result was a 4 month sanction. No food over christmas. She is a shadow of herself she says. She had never suffered from depression before but she does now. By the way this is the first time that she has been unemployed.

A man living on a grand total of £30 a week because he is having deductions made out of his universal credit due to a loan he had made to pay for a funeral…

Sanctioned for changing a phone number. This man had changed his phone number. He had informed his advisor or coach as they like to be called. They had taken note of it. He saw them do it. He was sanctioned because the advisor didn’t update it and therefore it was the claimants fault thus resulting in a sanction.

A gentleman who had suffered a serious back injury and was paralysed as a result was told that he had to walk up the stairs to his appointment and he couldn’t take his mobility scooter upstairs. He was also threatened with sanction for refusing to apply for a job as a hod carrier… Remember this man cannot walk he cannot carry roofing tiles he can only get around using his mobility scooter. When the gentleman said hang on I cannot physically walk up the stairs they accused him of being aggressive!!  No he wasn’t he was being truthful. How on a paralysed man do this type of job? The same advisor also criticised him for having a hobby.., how dare he have a hobby… The hobby being making figurines and very good they are too… He showed us the photos. He wants to work but Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre need to realise that he is disabled and unable to do a large amount of work. He was also told by the advisor that he needs to stop using his regional accent because it sounds too “common”!

Claimant told to wear a suit and to look smart when entering the Jobcentre.., ok when you have the money to do this.., and why should he just to look at a computer screen? Their excuse well an employer could walk in. Well sorry but the chancelike is of that are next to zero. They told him if he doesn’t smarten up they will sanction him. He looks no different than anyone else who enters the Jobcentre.

Please help us stop this!! We were shocked yesterday. These are only some of the stories we were told.

we are outside Ashtin Under Lyne Jobcentre every Thursday. Please join us. Please support us in any way you can. And to the Job centre staff please start treating claimants in the manner you would like to be treated. These people should not be talked to like this and should not be treated like this. It’s illegal and you need to stop. We are watching you. Sanctions kill and we will carry on exposing your crimes against humanity.

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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.