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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Our Christmas memorial service. 

Today was a great day. We held our now annual Christmas rememberence service outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Despite a lot of planning you never quite know how it will go and how many people will turn up. But we had a very good turnout which was fantastic.

Word has got round about our weekly demos and we get a lot of support from the public these days. But it’s taken a long time to get that support. We’ve worked very hard doing this and we will continue to do so.

Of course, whilst setting out we were “welcomed” by the police. There was quite a few of them. We are a peaceful lot and have never been a bother to them, but they feel that they have to give us this attention. I do feel that some of them actually support our campaign which I’m very thankful for.

We set out our table which had warm hats, gloves and scarfs on. Also we had mince pies, biscuits, some savoury biscuits and most importantly warm drinks that a member of our team had brought up in a large drink.

We also had a gorgeous wreath which was made by a member of The Green Party. I’ll put a photo of it below. It was stunning.

We started off with a speech by myself. I’m asked to speak publicly on occasion but I do get nervous. I explained why we were there and then I invited our guest to speak.

Our guest today was the Rev David Grey. He’s an amazing man, he doesn’t judge anyone and believes in peace, love and non judgement of people.

He gave a very moving speech that I will place below for you to watch. We then had the fantastic Eliza P Singer singing some very appropriate songs that she has wrote herself. She’s extremely talented.

I then spoke again and we carried on with the memorial demo. A fantastic man called Steve who is connected to a local pub The Station in Ashton spoke. They do such a lot for the homeless and anyone who needs help. He spoke about the amazing work that the landlady Pauline does. She’s amazing.

We then continued with our memorial demonstration handing out leaflets etc. I decided to speak again and a few members of the public joined in. They were disgusted at the way they have been treated. One of them a single mum with 3 kids had been sanctioned for months without anything. We all agreed that sanctioning people should never happen. Cutting off a persons only means of survival is never acceptable.

Whilst speaking I spoke about the evils of sanctioning, WCA assessments, workfare, ESA fit for work assessments and the obscene work programmes that the Jobcentre force you on. No one benefits on these except for the company providing them.

We decided that we wouldn’t leave our wreath outside the Jobcentre. They threw last years in the bin, so we had a procession up to the war memorial nearby. We placed it on the back of a memorial so not to break any rules and it is slightly hidden. Much like the poor who are dying everyday as a result of this governments actions.

We then returned to our homes. Weary, cold but feeling satisfied that we had managed to pay tribute to those that have passed as a result of this governments war against the poor.

Many thanks to everyone that came along today. I didn’t have time to thank everyone it was just too busy.

Please look at the videos and the photos. There’s some amazing people in them. Thank you so much.



Local authority “celebrating” the opening of a food bank at Tameside Hospital.

I’m disgusted. It’s bad enough having to open a food bank at a hospital. It’s bad enough that patients are being admitted due to malnutrition related illnesses. Please read my earlier blog to recap on the details.

Tameside hospital is struggling, it’s in a very poor area and Ashton Under Lyne was chosen to be one of the pilot areas for Universal credit as well as many other “trials”. This ensured that the folk of Tameside suffer, and  suffer we do. 

I saw this photo on Facebook. It shows the opening of the food bank at Tameside hospital.. I see several things that are wrong with this.. 

We should not be “celebrating” the opening of a food bank. The government wants us to open food banks. They do their work for them… Feeding the poorest in society. Now I’m not saying that people should be starving far from it. This should not be happening. Instead of celebrating this we should keep be lobbying the government and campaigning against this governments war on the poor.

Perhaps the thought of missing a photo opportunity was too much for them. They should have thought about this carefully first. Am I the only one thinking that they are sending the wrong message out? Where are the anti government placards stating that food banks shouldn’t exist? It seems that they think that gold chains are more suited for the occasion.

If a food bank is opened it should just open. Simply that. The good people that put the hard work into running food banks would much rather have food donations than a load of officials stood there smiling whilst the ribbon is cut.

It’s disgusting and it’s obscene that we even have the need for foodbanks. To say I’m angry at this is an understatement.. 

Am I the only one that irony of a Mayor cutting the ribbon whilst wearing solid gold chains? I see this as an insult to the poor of this country who can’t afford to eat. The wealth contained in those chains is something that they can only dream of. 

I’m surprised that they didn’t have the party poppers out and a nice spread laid out for the Mayor. I wasn’t there but I do hope that they didn’t. How insulting would that be? 

I do hope that all the officials attending donated some food. But more importantly I do hope that they are all personally lobbying and campaigning against this governments evil war against the poor individually. Just because “their political party” is campaigning is no excuse for them not to. 



Like the blog? Please donate so I can continue to write this blog. It takes a lot of time to do the campaigning that I do. When I do this I can’t work, so any donations are most welcome. My Paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com many thanks. 

Tameside hospital to hand out food parcels to patients. 

I live in Tameside and this is my local area. It’s a very poor area with small pockets of the more wealthier individuals, and sometimes I view these vast differences much the same as Charles Dickens did when he wrote A tale of two cities. Those with the extra cash sometimes have no idea that so many are going without the very basics. 

It’s not easy living in Tameside when you are poor, much the same as any other area in the country. Tameside is a name for an area which covers many small towns. Some of them quite rural, some of them urban. 

There is a very high level of unemployment in Tameside combined with evil zero hour contracts, a very harsh DWP sanctioning regime and also universal credit which was piloted in Ashton Under Lyne. 

We are hit from all angles. We have the bedroom tax to pay, the council tax supplement and combine this with the DWP sanctioning regeime it’s a disaster waiting to happen. 

Food banks aren’t everywhere and aren’t easily accessible for all. When you’ve got no money then you can’t even consider public transport, and the food that food banks provide are just meant to keep you going, mainly to stop you from starving. In my eyes it’s a travesty that food banks even have to exist. The government is quite proud of their existence when in reality they should be holding their heads in shame. 

When people are constantly hungry they become ill. Your immune system becomes depressed and I’m sure there has been an increase in doctors surgeries and my local hospital which is Tameside hospital. I can bet that nurses and doctors couldn’t believe the amount of malnutrition in their hospital. It must be like stepping back into Victorian times and is truly shocking. 

It’s a complete travesty that a hospital has to hand out food to patients to take home. It’s nothing short of a national disaster. But ask this government if they care and the answer will be no. 

But it’s getting worse. The local authority has got to make more cuts and many of them are going to be targeted at the poorest in Tameside and the services that are offered to the poorest in Tameside. I urge Tameside council to think again. By doing this then the situation is only going to get worse. I realise that your budget is being cut but please don’t take the lifeline away from those in the most need. 


Tell me Mr Cameron why are you doing this to the people of our country? This is nothing short of a national disaster and you Mr Cameron are breaching many basic human rights laws. Every human being should have access to food, water and a place to live. 

I will write later about our regular weekly demonstration yesterday. And once again I want to thank you for your support. Creative Commons License
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This is why we campaign against sanctions.

Please watch this video. I’ve been watching this chap for a long while now and his work campaigning against sanctions is excellent. He made this video to prove how easy it is to be illegally sanctioned. Even when you are innocent they will say that you are guilty..

Anyway this video shows how a Jobcentre interview should be conducted. Using covert audio recorders is allowed and I would always recommend that you do so for your own safety.

I’m working in two new blog pieces that are really shocking and will need to be shared.

Thank you so much for your support..

I run this blog on a shoestring and I would love to keep it going. Please donate to help keep our campaign going. We work very hard at this and it has become more or less a full time job for me.

Being made homeless the next day the universal credit victims and why do they keep stopping my money? Amongst other happenings at the Jobcentre. 

As it had been a quiet few weeks at the Jobcentre we weren’t expecting it to be busy, but it just goes to show that you can never predict an afternoon outside the Jobcentre. Yesterday was quite distressing universal credit problems for working people are beginning to take their toil on the most vulnerable. 

One thing that I’ve noticed whilst standing outside the Jobcentre is the amount of people going into the building wearing a uniform. Yes when you are working and on universal credit if you work part time hours or hours that fall below the 39 hour working week total then you have to sign on and prove to them that you are looking for more work. You are classed as under employed . It doesn’t matter if you have children, it doesn’t matter if you work night shifts you have to be there. Of course if you have a family to care for then it’s going to be doubly impossible to complete this task. Your on a treadmill and you can’t get off. Home, work, home, job search the list goes on. 

Yesterday I was talking to a young man. He had come out of a very bad situation and was living in temporary accommodation. He was very lucky to find this accommodation, but he was made to move to the other side of manchester. He had no choice, but the local authority under their rules which are more or less the same up and down the country had classed him as making himself ‘intentionally homeless’. So therefore has to accept any offer which he’s offered. Usually they don’t offer anything. This is of course untrue, but it saves money and time to put people under this category and to deny any responsibility for them. He had found some work and is on universal credit. Great he thought, a step up the ladder. He was very wrong. As a result of this and being placed on universal credit he has now lost his place in the hostel because it takes too long for universal credit to sort his rent out. And he has to top his rent up.He’s never been on the streets and he was scared. We signposted him to a local organisation that might help him if they have any room. As a single young man he isn’t priority on anyone’s list. I was heartbroken for him. The rule is if you are in temporary accommodation you can’t work, the rents are too high and you could never make a wage large enough to cover it. But the Jobcentre knew better, so effectively they have made him homeless and no one wants to help him. This isn’t unusual but it just highlights how wrong the system is. 

Another young man approached me. He had made a claim for universal credit and had received a letter saying that he was entitled to a payment. He had fulfilled all the requirements and thought that after having no money at all since March he would be getting a payment. He went to the bank to check if his money was there and it wasn’t. When he got home there was another letter to say that he wasn’t receiving a payment but there was no explanation. He was mortified. Remember he had no money since March. We helped him and also signposted him to a local foodbank and homeless organisation. He said he will loose his home now as a result of this. Why? Because you cannot claim housing benefit on a zero income basis whilst claiming or awaiting the results or a claim for universal credit. 

Imagine how many people are being made homeless this way. We encountered two in as many hours and I imagine the figures to be shocking. I really don’t understand why this government get away with this everyday. They really do hold peoples life’s in their hands and with a click of a button they can destroy it. The failure to release the figures for those that have died as a result of these benefit reforms says it all. Personally I think that they have destroyed these numbers, afraid that the European court of human rights would take that to task for it. Maybe I’m wrong but I’m very suspicious. Mainly because of their track history of lies and deception. 

“The only thing that the working class can aspire to is to be poor. This government have it stitched up and it’s only going to get worse” 

Please come and join us on our demo every Thursday between 1-3 outside Ashton under Lyne Jobcentre. We welcome everyone who comes in peace. 

Please donate to this blog if you can, I live on a very very limited income and we need to keep it going. My PayPal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com  Thank you