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. 

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

Our third Christmas demo. An invite.

Hi folks.

Every year we like to pay respect and remember those whom we have lost as a result of  this governments relentless attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

We have had several themes, and because the government are determined to send us back to mid Victorian times we have decided to go for a Dickensian Christmas/ Workhouse theme.

Very apt seeing as the Jobcentre, Work Programme and Workfare are all the modern day equivalent of the Workhouse.

Regular members will be costumed, but because we aren’t funded we cannot provide costumes for everyone. But you can bring your own. We are merging all of Dicken’s characters, and we will be having Mr Bumble visit who will be representing the DWP.

I love street theatre, it is a very effective method of getting important messages across. I would love to hear from anyone who is involved in the theatre or film making for this project, and another I would really like to start. That would be a national event.

Please come along and read the event description, all details are contained in there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/202670863509828/?ti=icl


Many thanks.

Please donate if you can, if not please continue to share. Thank you so much!

.

Our short film with The Guardian.

Around a month or so ago we spent three weeks filming with a journalist and film maker from The guardian. Having worked with The guardian before I held  a certain level of trust with them because they have always been nothing short of brilliant. Always giving a fair and honest opinion and treating both ourselves and the claimants with the respect we all deserve.

I’m not sure that John and his team from The guardian knew what to expect. They had a remit which was to make a film that backed up Ken Loaches film I, Daniel Blake. To counteract the naysayers and the right wing that would say that its just a piece of fiction. And I was proud to have been asked. After all Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre is one of the worst in the country. A reputation very much deserved.

So for three weeks they joined us and spoke to Melvin, a man who due to redundancy and ill health found himself a victim of the DWP regime.

There was also lots of other footage taken, but they didnt make the cut.

Watch the film, its very powerful. It might make you cry. It might make you angry.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2016/oct/21/meet-the-real-daniel-blakes-ken-loach-video

But one thing is for sure, we hear many more awful stories each and every week and our work has become invaluable. This week all of our food parcels were handed out within ten minutes, which has got to be record timing.

It’s getting cold, and people are becoming more desperate. Also as we move towards the Christmas season we notice a sharp uptake in sanctioning levels. We have already noticed a far higher level of disabled and sick claimants being turned down at their ESA medicals. We know the reason for this and its awful.

We do rely on your support to keep going. At times our morale can be very low, because the stories that we hear are very harrowing.

Please donate if you can. This has become a full time job for me and it doesn’t just stop outside the Jobcentre every Thursday. I spend my time lobbying, writing, attending meetings, informing people and campaigning. As well as planning our demos.

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This week we held our special I, Daniel Blake demo which was a resounding success. The Jobcentre asked us to remove our banner. We politely declined their request.

Help needed! 

Shoutout for help!

 You may or may not remember that over a year ago I wrote about the awful troubled family scheme implemented by the government. Well it’s been proven to have only been successful in 2% of cases.

In different areas the TFP is called different things:

Confident Families (Wigan and possibly other areas)

Stronger Families (Doncaster and possibly other areas)

Priority Families (Nottingham and possibly other areas)

Working Together with Families (Preston and possibly other areas)

Families First (Bradford and possibly other areas)

 I’m wanting to do a follow up article on this and I’d like to speak to anyone who has been forced to go on this scheme, or who weren’t even told that they were on the scheme and then later found out. 

Anyone that contacts me will remain anonymous out of respect for privacy, unless they state that they want people to know who they are. 

I can’t state how important it is to get the reality of being forced to undertake these schemes out there. Unless we speak about it the public will remain unaware! 

Many thanks ! 

Many thanks!

A year outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Today we celebrated a full year of demonstrations outside the Jobcentre every Thursday. It’s been an amazing year, one that has shown that a smaller protest can and is effective.

We started our Jobcentre demonstrations last year when we were disgusted to hear that a young pregnant girl was sanctioned for attending her workfare interview and telling them that she was pregnant. We decided that as a group Tameside Against The Cuts would take a stand. Not only was this sanction illegal it put the life of the young girl and her unborn baby at risk. It highlighted to us that the situation regarding sanctioning was far worse than we could imagine. 

Armed with a banner that we had previously used at other demonstrations and some cardboard placards we decided that a weekly demonstration was needed to highlight this issue. We had no other resources except our knowledge as a group of how the system worked, and what could be done to help others. 

It proved to be more popular than we thought. We were inundated with requests for help, and the situation for the people using Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre was pretty dire. It seemed that all rules regarding sanctioning were being ignored and they were a law unto themselves. So we continued. Within the first few months of demonstrating we heard of suicides and such desperate cases that we couldn’t believe it. We knew that this Tory government could be cruel but the levels of cruelty that they would go to seemed unreal. 

We produced our own leaflet. It was very basic but it did the job. We have since improved on this first leaflet and are now I think on our 3rd or 4th edition. This leaflet informs claimants of their legal rights and how to fight a sanction, also how to cope whilst you are sanctioned. This has proven to be very popular and has been reproduced by several other groups around the country. The input of Boycott Workfare whom we work very closely with has enabled us to produced a very clear step by step guide on the back of our leaflet. So many thanks to them. 

I only ever thought that there would be a few of us stood outside the Jobcentre but I was wrong. Instead of the number diminishing they are increasing. People from all walks of life join us and from all over the country. We really appreciate this. People are seeing that they system is very wrong and it needs changing. 

I was told a while ago that our demonstrations wouldn’t achieve anything. We were just wasting our time they said.. They were very wrong. Our demonstration has helped to highlight the issue of sanctioning to a huge extent. We have been part of the sanctions debate in parliament, we helped to make 2 dispatches programmes highlighting the horrors of sanctioning. This blog has become a massive success and is talked about all over the place, even in other countries. As a result I now have regular features in The Morning Star newspaper. In fact our demonstrations themselves have been praised and discussed amongst many groups up and down the country. And they use ours as an example of positive action. 

Why have we been successful? I think this is because of a good combination of many different types of people. We all have our own political beliefs but we join together on these issues. We welcome everyone who comes in peace, we aren’t abusive and we respect everyone. Hard to do sometimes when someone is shouting at you “get a job”. It’s all down to good teamwork.

What support do we get? We get lots of support from the community, Unite in the community have been fantastic as have The Green Party. Many of us are members of both. However we do have to produce most things ourselves which can be hard work sometimes. 

Are we going to continue? Yes we are. For as long as the evil sanctioning regime exists we will be there. We have become to be of great support to claimants entering the Jobcentre and have helped to prevent 3 suicides to our knowledge.. 

Thank you so much for your continued support. See you outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre next week! 

  
We don’t receive funding for any of the work that we do. We would really appreciate any donations to help us to continue with our actions and our blog.

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.

Doing my job. A song by Eliza P singer/ songwriter.

Inspired by life.

Doing my job.

Well I want to get some justice for a man who died

Sanction to suicide

They threw him in the sea with boots of lead 

To see if he could swim and now he’s dead. 

They took his pride, they took his house, took his life with the click of a mouse 

It was somebodys decision, you tell me who

Oh civil servant was this you? 

I’m so sorry for your loss

But I think you need to see my boss. 

I was acting on a memo on my desk

I’d lose my job if I protest. 

Chorus 

Don’t put the blame on me

I’m a small cog in a large machine

Acting on orders from above

And I’m just doing my job. 

So I saw the management, I said, was this you or the government? 

She said I don’t know what you mean 

I just do what it says on the computer screen. 

I ticked the box but, no offence 

I don’t make the rules I just follow them.

It’s written in my job discripton

Go and see the politician. 

Chorus.

The politician met me then 

He said what’s all this about your friend? 

He put himself into that grave

Now leave me alone I’ve got money to save. 

Not me he said why don’t you know? 

These decisions are made by people below.

Chorus 

Eliza P 2015

All words copyrighted by Eliza P.

Listen to this fantastic song on sound cloud for nothing! 

“Doing my job”. sung straight into computer so I don’t forget it by Eliza P | Free Listening on SoundCloud

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.

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.