Disabled wheelchair user denied ESA payments. Horrendous Universal Credit waiting times. Today’s demo.

Well what can I say about today except that it was extremely busy and very cold. It appears that Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre have upped their targeting of claimant techniques, most likely because they are now meeting the claimants that have been transferred over from nearby recently closed Jobcentre, Stalybridge. Far too many of the claimants that I have been speaking to have been telling me how awful Ashton Jobcentre is compared to what Stalybridge was like, I’ve even heard murmurings from the DWP staff that were transferred that they dislike it. Sadly this isnt a surprise is it.

 

The food parcels arrived with Gordon of which I was really thankful for. So many people are experiencing the well known delays in waiting for a Universal Credit claim to go through, and also far more people than I have noted in the past are failing their ESA medicals. When this happens a person doesn’t receive any more payments, and in the case of Universal Credit obtaining an advance payment can also be hard. People still become hungry in the process so we feed them, we signpost them and very soon will be handing out warm clothes or referring them to places where they can obtain warm clothing.

Can I say that I hate winter, when you are poor there is nothing nice about it. People go into survival mode because as we know the combination of the cold and hunger kills people every year. It seems to never end, especially for those that are street homeless or forced to live in homes that they cannot afford to heat. Many cannot make the choice between heating or eating because they can do neither, and with Christmas on the horizon, thousands of new Universal Credit claimants will be in this postition, yet Theresa May seems to find this amusing.

 

I found it hard today especially because I developed a migraine en route to the demo, so my apologies if this blog isn’t up to scratch. Anyway I digress. Today was a tough day, so many people needing help which sadly isn’t unusual.

Here is a short list of some of the people that I and my colleges spoke to today.

 

The first gentleman that I spoke to was in the midst of claiming Universal Credit. He was astounded at how rude and unhelpful the staff were to him and to others, he just didnt understand how the DWP staff could act in this manner because it’s totally alien to him. He told me that he was brought up to respect others and to help them also and quite rightly so. He noted that we need to carry on educating people of their rights, because this empowers them and it’s one way of changing things. He also told us that he was so glad that we were there for people, because we are needed and to not give up.

 

 

I spoke to a man who has waited well over a month for his Universal Credit claim to go through. We know that this isn’t unusual, its been all over the news and we have known about this for around 4 years now. Being a pilot area for Universal Credit has it’s disadvantages because we have suffered for so long now that I’ve almost forgotten what its like not to live like this.

Not only was he hungry, hes been having a lot of hassle from his neighbours and the windows on his flat have been smashed. His landlord is refusing to fix them, stating that he has to pay to have them fixed first then they will refund him. We told him that this is not only ridiculous it is almost unheard of. He rents his property from a larger housing association and they should fix them. Maybe they are being prejudicial because he owns rent due to his Universal Credit delay, who knows. But we advised him that this is wrongful of them and we told him where to got to get some advice and to deal with this. Poor man, he didn’t ask for any of this to happen to him, nobody does do they.

 

 

I spoke to a young man who was attempting to make a new claim for Universal Credit. He had already checked to see what ID was needed when he attended his appointment and he brought it with him today. However, his advisor told him that because one of his proof of IDs didnt include his postcode then it didn’t count. This was an official letter from his solicitor.

To say that he was annoyed was an understatement. He was clearly hungry, so I made sure that he was given a food parcel, along with that I gave him some much needed help and advice and had a good conversation with him. He told me that he was finding the whole process far too daunting, that he had felt like giving up but knowing that we were there and spoke to him like a human being has given him hope. I also spoke to his sister, who for reasons that I cannot say publicly needed a food parcel also for her and her son. My heart went out to her and I could relate totally to her because I have walked the same path as she is doing now and it will get better for her.

His words were “I can’t believe that you have spoken to me like I am human, that I matter and that you care. They don’t inside that building, they don’t have any respect for us, thank you so, so much.” And this is exactly why we do what we do.

 

 

A lady, sat in her wheelchair was sheltering from the rain with her son. She called me over so I went to have a chat with her. She told me that she had been given zero points at her recent ESA assessment, even though she is very clearly unable to work. Yes I know that this isnt unusual sadly. I handed her a food parcel because she hasn’t had any money for over a week to buy food, with that I gave her some good advice and told her to contact her local MPS office asap. In my eyes this decision can and must be overturned and he can do this far quicker than any other organisation. She said that she would do this, but we had to leave before she came out of the Jobcentre. I really hope that she is ok because this should never have happened to her and the thousands of disabled people that are denied their rightful claim to ESA and PIP everyday throughout the country everyday.

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I also spoke to several older ladies, all disabled that have recently failed their ESA medicals. They wern’t aware that they could appeal because their advisor hadn’t told them this, they thought that they had no option but to go through the Universal Credit, JSA rigmarole. They all were unhappy but found out words comforting.

 

 

I spoke to a local homeless chap who has had a bit of good luck and will hopefully be housed and living a far better life. I speak to him everyday, and usually buy him a cuppa. It was lovely seeing him wearing a nice new warm coat and having a whole new outlook on life. Many thanks to the guys from the local organisations for this, and also the magic of Facebook. Sometimes it can work miracles.

 

 

Many thanks for everyone that attended today, numbers were low but spirits were high. Thank you so much! Time to find some thermal underware when funds allow!

Also thanks to the wonderful Sasha for joining us today, more about that in the future. But I can say that I will hopefully be starting a weekly podcast in the near future.

I’ll end this here, because I have to go and collect my daughter from school. Remember that this is only a small snapshot of what we do on a Thursday and my work doesn’t end when I’ve finished writing this blog, infact its just the beginning of my week.

 

Please read, share and talk about my blog this is so important.

For anyone wishing to donate, every penny helps and my paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com

 

Remember that we are all one step away from being caught up in this evil, pernicious system that likes to destroy people. Please support us in whatever way that you can do, support my blog because it is vital that we gert as much information out there about the reality of this system as possible.

Thank you!

 

 

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Today’s demo. ‘Leave your job as a part time teaching assistant and become a cleaner instead’

Sorry the blog is a bit late today, I’ve had an extremely busy week and I haven’t had time to think about much else other than Universal credit. You see the campaign doesn’t end when the demo finishes and I’ve published my blog. There’s so much more that goes into it, and anyone that runs a campaign will verify that.

 

I haven’t been sleeping well, which doesn’t help. I’ve been suffering from bouts of insomnia lately, but I can’t grumble because at least I’m lucky enough to have a bed to sleep in, thousands haven’t.

Anyway enough about me, I’m sure that you don’t want to hear my worries but I needed to vent a tad.

 

 

I arrived slightly early, and it was cold, really cold. It was a sharp reminder that winter is here and my heart goes out to everyone who is homeless or cannot afford gas and electric. This is going to be an even bigger problem this year with more and more people stripped of any money that they might have spent on this. There are energy banks in existence, but sadly I don’t think that there are any in the area where I live and help out. This needs addressing asap.

 

 

I was immediately stopped by an older gentleman, he didnt need any help he just wanted to say hello. He told me to keep up the good work. I thanked him and he went on to tell me that he used to work in a Jobcentre. He really enjoyed the job and liked helping people. He told me that was the job remit then.

He went on to say that as time moved on things started to change for the worst, and he was put under a lot of pressure. So much so that it made him ill. He made the decision that he had to leave, it was either that or his sanity, he couldnt cope any longer. He told me that it’s esssential that we carry on our work because now the system is all about punishing people and not helping them.  We said goodbye and he left.

 

 

I spoke to a lady who had made the mistake of attempting to take a drink into the Jobcentre. Remember folks, they will make you take a drink outside and they expect you to turn off your mobile phone if you are lucky enough to have one. This is wrong and is clearly a tactic to undermine people.

 

 

Gordon dropped off the foodparcels which were taken very quickly.

 

A young man dressed in inadequate clothing for the weather was standing a few yards away looking at them, I could tell from his whole demeanour that he was hungry and needed help. So I walked over to him and had a chat. His circumstances are pretty dire, and he is waiting for his failed ESA medical appeal to go through. The Jobcentre have deemed him too unfit to claim JSA or UC in the meantime so he’s in limbo. Many people are and it’s awful.

I had a chat with him and explained what we do to him. I also informed him of the local organisations that he can access so that he won’t be as isolated, Isolation is a huge problem. He listened, and took a food parcel. I Hope that he is ok.

 

 

I spoke to the lady whom I accompanied to her ESA medical the other week. She was smiling and told me that she has been put in the support group. That did make me happy and I explained to her what that means.

 

 

I spoke to an elderly lady who has been waiting a long time for the attendance allowance that she had applied for. I told her that she needs to go and see her local MP asap because she shouldn’t be in this situation, and it sounded like they are giving her the run around. I really do hope that she contacts her MP who is a very good MP.

 

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I spoke to a lady who is on Universal Credit and is working part time at a school as a teaching assistant. Because she is claiming Universal Credit she still has to sign on. It’s awful because the DWP see a person working like this as underemployed and of no value at all.

She told me that her advisor had been particularly cruel today. As soon as she sat down to talk to her advisor, the advisor started to speak in an aggressive tone giving her orders. One being that she should leave her job as a valued teaching assistant and get a job as a cleaner instead. The lady told me that she couldnt believe what her so called advisor was telling her to do. She was also told to complete various other unreasonable tasks.

I gave her my sympathy and also told her how to make a complaint about her advisor and how to request a new one. Everyone has a legal right to do this but they won’t tell a claimant this.

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I spoke to an older lady who has been living in a tent locally with a friend. She told me that she has ran out of places to sofa surf so shes now living full time in a tent.

I have spoken to this lady before, but she hadn’t been living in a tent then. I had a good long chat with her and told her that she must access the help of a local organisation today. Shes vulnerable and no one should have to live like this. She told me that she would do so I hope that she has done.

Homelessness amongst women is a huge problem. The reasons for this vary largely but many women are homeless because they have fled a violent relationship and I’m appalled at the lack of facilities for homeless women, and street homeless women in this country. But for the grace of god I’m not in this situation. Please spare a thought for anyone in this situation.

 

 

We spoke to lots more people, far too many to mention here and every person was dealt with the upmost respect and love. Remember this can happen to anyone and I mean anyone. Don’t judge someone because they are going through a tough time, try and become their friend instead because thats what they need instead of judgement.

Regardless of the weather I and other memebers of the team will be returning next week as we always do. Please come and join us if you can we would love that.

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Many thanks to all the members of the team, everyone that reads my blog, shares my Facebook posts, tweets my tweets on twitter, and who puts up with my moaning.

Also many thanks to The Peoples Assembly and Manchester TUC for putting up with me for many years now.

I’ve been so busy this week like I said. It’s been a week full of meetings, writing and telephone calls. And I’m equally as busy this weekend so if I’m slow at responding that is why and I apologise.

 

Please read, share, tweet and email my blog. Even print a copy out and send it to a Tory MP or email them a copy. We need to keep reminding them of the cruelty that they are inflicting upon the most vulnerable in society.

 

I’m still having problems with my donation button, so here is my PayPal add. Thank you to everyone that has supported both the campaign and myself so far. It mean the world.

seercharlotte@gmail.com

Today’s demo. Why are we still here? Because people need help. Massive queues for council tax debt outside the Magistrates Court.

I woke today with a migraine, not something that you might be interested in, but if I make a few mistakes writing this then that is why. So my apologies.

 

Once again, its autumn, and although it looks pretty, it’s starting to get cold, so please think of those that cannot afford a winter coat, new winter boots etc. Winter is a very hard time of the year, in fact the hardest for everyone living in poverty, whether it is a disabled person struggling to get buy on a meagre income, a single parent struggling to get by, an elderly person unable to heat their home. We are all in the same boat, an awful one and hopefully sometime soon things will change.

 

 

Gordon arrived with the food parcels and so we started our demo. When I tell you that people are in desperate need I mean it. No one would either ask for or accept a food parcel if they weren’t desperate. But they all were given to folk that desperately needed them. They were all given advice, solidarity, compassion and were signposted to local organisations or local MPs. This is all a very important part of our work. We cannot just put a sticking plaster over it and expect everything to be ok. It won’t be, and reaching out to people when they are at their lowest is very important, as is empowering them to make them able to deal with the devil which is the DWP.

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Here’s a run down of occurrences from todays demo. Please note, names and contact details of all persons concerned are confidential at their request and will remain so at their request.

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I was stopped by a man whom I was handing a leaflet to and was told that there was a massive queue outside the Magistrates Court. I asked why, and he told me that these people were in debt with their council tax due to universal credit. ‘It’s evil he said, people can’t survive and now they are scared that they will be taken to prison for non payment’.

Normally I would have rushed down to the magistrates court, but I was unable to because we were low on numbers at the demo and I was needed there. But what I can say is that this is wrong. How on earth can people afford to pay their council tax when they are either waiting for or receiving universal credit? I know that allowances are made when you are applying for benefits, but a person still has to pay a portion of council tax. This is not helped by the universal credit system which despite what the conservative party says, is not running smoothly at all. Not one department knows what the other is doing, they don’t communicate and they haven’t got a clue about the rules and regulations. However, they are fully aware of when and how to stop a persons money rendering them penniless.

My heart went out to the people in the queue, because I’ve been there in that queue in the past and I also owe council tax. It’s a complete nightmare.

 

 

 

 

I spoke to a partially sighted man who struggles to be able to read. He has told Ashton Jobcentre and the DWP that all appointments etc have to be given by telephone, they have refused to send him large print letters so that he can read them. He told me that he is sick to death of telling them to do this. I advised him of his rights as a disabled person and that he should visit his MP to discuss this. He told me that he would be doing so.

Once again, it’s very important to seek help from outside organisations, and if you have a good MP then consult them. The DWP really hate an MP becoming involved, trust me they hate it.

 

 

 

I spoke to an older WASPI lady who told me that she was struggling but carrying on. She’s a lovely  lady who is just doing her best to manage within an unmanageable  system. We had a chat, gave her some reassurance and gave her a food parcel.

 

 

We spoke to a young man who was very knowledgeable about how the DWP system is ran, and the rules and regulations. He knows his stuff, he knows his legal rights and he is a corrupt advisors worst nightmare.

He told us that he had been forced to use the computers upstairs in the Jobcentre, despite having access to a computer at home and being very competent at doing so. They like to make people feel worthless and to know their place don’t they.

Anyway, he logged into the system and it kept saying error, which he thought was strange because he had never had any problems at home doing so. He returned home and he had received an email from Microsoft telling him that his security had been breached. This is not good at all, and the system that the DWP are currently using in their Jobcentres might be being seen as a security risk by internet servers. This is an issue that we need to keep an eye on folks, let me know if this has happened to you also.

 

 

 

A man walked out smiling and said ‘I’ve just had the pleasure of telling the Jobcentre to f off…. I’ve found a job’. We all cheered for him. What a fantastic feeling that must have been.

 

 

 

I spoke to a young man and his girlfriend who had made the mistake of trying to take hot drinks into the Jobcentre. They were completely new to the system and didn’t understand why they were being treated like this. Basically, it’s just not on is it as they say in Manchester.

 

I spoke to women with very young babies, older men telling me how awful the system is,  basically lots of people. It’s hard work but whilst people need help, and while this rotten system is in place I will continue to be there for everyone that needs me and the team.

 

A massive thank you to the members of the team that turned up to support the demo, it really does mean a lot. We were low on number again today, so please, if anyone is able to, come and join us on Thursdays between 10-12. We are really friendly and you will get a warm welcome.

 

 

 

I will continue to write my blog, lobby people and do everything alongside this campaign that is essential but isn’t necessarily seen by others. This is very important and by continuing to put pressure on the government and opposition MPs we are starting to make changes. This isn’t easy though and this and everything else has ensured that I have little free time now, and no money for luxuries so apologies if  I am slow in responding to people. This is why. I’m a single parent trying to juggle everything.

This week I have had a poorly daughter and have represented a person at their ESA medical. It’s been busy.

 

 

Check out The Morning Star tomorrow for my latest article tomorrow. I do not get paid for this, but I really enjoy writing, and the newspaper has helped my campaign so much.

A massive thank you to everyone that reads and supports my blog. You are all amazing, and please keep sharing.

 

 

Thank you!

My paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com

Thank you!

If it wasn’t for your help today I was considering committing suicide. I can’t take anymore. Today’s demo.

Today was extremely busy, mainly because we now have a new influx of people needing help that had previously been signing on at Stalybridge Jobcentre which has recently been shut down. The impact of a Jobcentre shutting down is massive and it can’t be underestimated, especially in rural areas. How on earth can they expect claimants to walk miles to their nearest Jobcentre is beyond me. But i do know that this is a calculated and cruel move by the government to make it extremely hard for a claimant to fulfil their Jobseekers Agreement, therefore resulting on more sanctions etc.

Here is an awful case that shows that combined with bad advice, a lack of compassion and Universal Credit can and does ruin a persons life.

Please note that this is a true, honest account, and nor am I passing on any personal details as requested.

As soon as I arrived I saw a man shuffling out of the Jobcentre, I could see that he was unhappy and needed help. After four years I’ve learnt to recognise the signs.

As soon as I said hello to him, he started to tell me about his problems. He will remain nameless for respect for him and also so that he doesn’t get any repercussions from the DWP.

He told me that he had been sanctioned again, he didn’t know why and his advisor wouldn’t tell him either. He was told to phone up the 0345 number which at the moment costs a person up to 55p a min to phone. He waited for ages to speak to someone and then he ran out of credit, so now he can’t use his phone.

He had always worked since the age of 15, until he had a heart attack five years ago. this left him unable to work so upon advice given he then claimed ESA. This was going ok for a while until he attended an ATOS medical, when they declared him fit for work. He clearly wasn’t. So he appealed this decision, won his appeal and reclaimed his ESA.

The stress of this didn’t do him any good so he became ill and had to be admitted to hospital for a heart related illness. The consultant advised him to stay away from stressful situations. Easier to say than do though, especially when he was called up for another ESA medical.

They declared him fit for work so he then went to the Jobcentre to try and claim Jobseekers Allowance until his appeal was accepted. However his advisor told him that he had to claim Universal Credit. He had no choice and nor could he appeal the ESA decision. We know that this is wrong, but this is what they are doing to people folks.

He then went ahead made his claim and was told that he had to work, he had no choice. So against his consultants decision he found a 16 hour a week job, which was supposedly topped up by Universal Credit.

He ended up far worse off financially because the way that universal credit is worked out it actually makes a person worse off in work and he was effectively working for 33p a hour.

Then his hours were reduced to 10 a week. He knew that he couldn’t survive on this, and he also knew that he would be punished by the Universal Credit system for the decision that was made by his employer. He was told to find more hours to work or there was a possibility that he would be sanctioned.

As a result he became ill because of the stress and couldn’t cope. He has subsequently been sanctioned and has had no money for a few weeks.

Straight away I reassured him that we are here for him, that we can help him. He told me that he was close to committing suicide, and was serious about it, but our kindness has made him rethink this. He didn’t think that anyone would help, because no one cared. I told him that we do care and that we would help him to sort this out.

I gave him a food parcel which he was overjoyed at recieving, I don’t think that he has eaten anything decent for a while. I then telephoned his local MPS office and asked his team if they could see him asap. Because his case is complicated, and there is more to it than I have explained above, seeing his MP is essential. There’s nothing like a letter from an MP to get things moving, because if there is one thing that the DWP hate is an MP becoming involved in a case. I did also inform him of other local organisations, but he said that he wasn’t ready for them yet but maybe he will be after he has spoken to his MPs office.

I know that he will be treated with the upmost respect when he meets them, and they are a great team. Remember folks, go and see your MP if you can. Even if they are Conservative, because they need to hear your problems, even if some won’t deal with it then need to hear them. I’m now confident that his life will improve.

A massive thank you to Andrew Gwynnes office for helping.

I was then stopped by two gentlemen, they both looked undernourished and unwell. They asked for a food parcel each, and they told me that they had been sanctioned. I gave them both a food parcel and advised them to go to a local organisation that can help them further, and help them to reclaim their life’s.

I spoke to a person who had had their ESA stopped because they had asked to change their appointment, they agreed to do so and they then stopped their ESA. This is clearly wrong, so I telephoned my local MPS office and they is now getting the advice and help that they need. I also gave them a food parcel.,

Many thanks to Angela Rayner’s team for their help. Because this is also a complicated case it was appropriate that they get help from our MP.

I spoke to a man who had been sanctioned, he wasn’t very clear on why, but he was clear about the fact that he isn’t getting the help that he needs. Because he is getting some support from one organisation, another organisation is refusing to work with him because they don’t want to cross paths. But here is the problem, he cannot access a food parcel from them now. So I gave him a food parcel, some advice and signposted him to a local organisation that will work with him, and he will gain some confidence. Sometimes bureaucracy is our biggest battle.

I then spoke to a man who’s wife had recently died. He had never signed on before and had always worked. I had a good chat with him, reassured him, gave advice and signposted him to a local organisation where I know he will enjoy.

We then spoke to a young person who was 10 minutes late for their appointment due to their bus being late. They were aware of the possibility of being sanctioned, so we advised them, had a good chat and hopefully they will stay in touch.

We also spoke to many more people, most confused or angry, some both. We offer help, advice and foodparcels but we never ever just put a sticking plaster so to speak over their problems. We need to help them constructively and empower them. I then campaign, and do a lot fo work to challlenge this system and those in charge of it. Because it is just as important to do this.

We will be back next week and thank you to everyone for your kind messages and tweets of support. You all, and the team who are nothing short of amazing, keep me going.

Please share, tweet, talk about my blog and our campaign as much as possible. This is very important, because unless we tell the world about this no one will know how awful this system is.

The team holding Ray Woolfords book Foodbank Britain. And my first meeting with Elvis, the newest member of the team, my friends hearing assistance dog.

Here is my paypal add if anyone would like to daonate. I’m having trouble with the button which I can’t seem to rectify ATM.

Its seercharlotte@gmail.com.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Sanctioned for applying for more than one job with an agency. Sanctioned because child was ill.

I have just returned from our weekly Thursday demo and to say that it was busy was an understatement. We are helping more people than ever before due to the closure of Stalybridge Jobcentre. I know that I keep mentioning this, but this is the reality of the situation. When a Jobcentre is shut down it puts extreme pressure on the next town that does have a Jobcentre, and of course the Jobcentre itself. It is abhorrent that people are forced to often walk, some everyday to a Jobcentre that is miles away this doesn’t encourage anyone to get a job, it just demoralises them even more and often makes them ill.

This week I have decided to list a few of the situations that the people that are forced to use Ashton Under Lyne Jobcenre are going through. I say a few, because there are too many to write on this blog, and some people were in such a rush that they couldn’t stop to speak to us. Also some people are too scared to do so.

 

The first woman that I spoke to had attended her ESA medical last week. I couldn’t attend with her because I had commitments and she struggles to trust people. But armed with lots of information she went along. Upon seeing her assessor, she was questioned about issues that have nothing to do with her illness. She was set up to fail, but if she does get a letter saying that she has failed then she will be getting lots of support to appeal. This broke my heart, and I wish that I could be everywhere but I can’t.

 

 

I then spoke to a 62 year old woman who has been forced to volunteer for The British Heart Foundation as part of the workfare programme. Shes under no illusion that the system is cruel, and this is not helping her to find work. In her own words she said that no one would employ her at her age, her 29yr old daughter is struggling in a zero hour contract job and finding that job was hard, it would be impossible for her. Her daughter wants to further her education, but is under immense pressure to leave college and to obtain more hours at work even though gaining the qualification that she is working to get would eventually give her a better paid job. It’s a catch 22 situation for many people.

 

 

I then spoke to a  young man who was sanctioned because his child was ill and he had to stay at home with them. He did inform the Jobcentre, but they saw this as not a good enough reason to miss his signing on appointment. He is appealing this decision.

 

 

I spoke to another young man. He told me that his advisor had informed him that he was being sanctioned because he hadn’t attended an appointment. The reason being that he didn’t receive a letter informing him of this appointment. This is not a new phenomenon, far from it we’ve seen this happen for four years now. I don’t believe that these letters are actually sent out in the first place. If you have time, scroll down the blog and refer to the post titled ‘The case of the missing letters’ it makes interesting reading. He is appealing this decision, and help and advice was given to him to do so.

 

 

Upon standing outside the Jobcentre, we noted a very elderly lady leaving the Jobcentre and crossing the road. She didn’t wish to speak to anyone, but I would have to question the very fact as to why she felt that she had to visit the Jobcentre in the first place.

 

 

A bit of good news, I spoke to a lady whom I had previously helped and advised. She told me that she had taken my advice and was now much happier and is in the process of claiming all the money that she is entitled to. This poor lady went through an awful time and I was so pleased to hear this. She gave me a big hug and said thank you. That made my day.

 

 

 

I spoke to a young man who had been sanctioned for applying for more than one job with the same agency. Yes folks, they can also sanction a person for applying for too many jobs. He was devestated because he had done exactly what he was supposed to do which is look for work. We gave him some good advice and he will be appealing this decision. This does prove that you can never do enough to make the DWP system happy, the advisor is supposed to use their discretion, and they obviously did, they chose to sanction him for looking for work.

 

 

I spoke to a lady who had previously failed her ESA medical and didn’t appeal that decision. I hadn’t met her yet and she had fallen for the rethoric that even if you are sick or disabled you have to work. She has been forced to attend the Jobcentre everyday and to achieve this she has to walk a long distance. She complained about feeling tired, and she said that she didn’t feel well. I signposted her to a local organisation that can sit down with her and talk her through the whole complicated process at a speed that suits her. It’s hard to do this whilst stood on the street.

 

 

 

I also spoke to a man who had just been sanctioned for missing an appointment in March. He had already spent his sanction (I may as well use this term, because they are treating innocent people like criminals). This hasn’t stopped the DWP from sanctioning him again for the same reason. He is appealing this decision, because this is very clearly wrong. However this doesn’t help him now does it. We did give him help, advice and signposted him.

 

 

This all happened in the space of two hours folks, can you imagine how many people are leaving the Jobcentre after their appointment In a state of dispair? Many give up, take themselves off the cruel system because the stress is too much for them. Many become ill or take their own life’s. This does happen to people that use this Jobcentre and most likely most Jobcentre’s. It’s a cruel system and is designed to be so.

 

What I can say is that they made no mistakes when designing Universal Credit. Everything has been designed purposely to make the poor suffer.

People cannot just walk into a Jobcentre to get help as Liz Truss stated this week. If you haven’t got an appointment you arent allowed any help, and they certainly won’t make any telephone calls for you even if you have an appointment.

The government has created a system that can never be beaten, no one can win against this system, the design makes it impossible to do so. They want the poor to pay for their own poverty, the very fact that Theresa May this week declined to answer Jeremy Corbyns question about the cost of the 55p per min helpline cost. They have no qulams about making it impossible to get help, advice and compassion.  I’m certain that they think that we live in some kind of utopian dream, where everything that we need is easily available and easy to access. We know that this isnt true though.

 

The battle continues for us though, it’s never ending. I’ve committed four years so far to this campaign, and if I have to commit another for years to it I will do. The poorest of this country are being targeted injustice after injustice, and rather than just putting a sticking plaster over it I feel that it is necessary to challenge the system. After all, plasters fall off and the damage is still there isn’t it.

 

 

Many, many thanks to everyone that came along and supported the demo. You are all my rocks, you keep me going even through times when I am upset and angry at the system. You are all amazing.

 

 

It’s been a very busy week, if you would like to see the links to the various newspaper reports and media appearances then please comment below. I don’t want to bore you if you dont want to see them.

 

We don’t get paid for this, we do it, I do it because people need help and I’m certain that one day we shall overcome this evil regime.

 

Please share my blog, talk about it, lets make this blog reach more people than it does already. We need to keep highlighting the injustices that this government are showering the most vulnerable in society with.

 

Please donate if you can, if you can’t thats more than ok! Thank you to those that have supported the blog already.

My PayPal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com.

I am having problems with the button that I was using, sorry!

 

 

 

 

Sanctioned for not being able to sign on on bank holiday Monday. Tears, frustration and rain.

Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.

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We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy.  But it’s a whole lot harder for them.

I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at  Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also. He mentioned that some of the advisors at Stalybridge could be awful, but Ashton Jobcentre felt positively hostile. I had to agree with him. The frontline staff has a habit of making a person feel like they are guilty of committing some heinous crime, when in fact their only crime and it isn’t a crime is being poor.

You really have to experience this to understand what I’m talking about. I experienced the same treatment when I used to have to sign on there. It was awful, with G4S security guards taking personal details to check appointments. Of course, this is illegal but the DWP and their employees seem to be immune to any type of action being taken against them. One day I’m sure that their time will come.

He also explained to us that he had failed his ESA medical and was in the process of appealing, so until he can prove that he has launched an appeal he has had to submit a claim for JSA. He knows the score and what to do but it doesn’t make it easier does it. So he is now in no man’s land, waiting for everything to be processed and it is a horrible place to be.

Whilst I was standing outside the Jobcentre I spotted a man walk in, who was very obviously disabled and in discomfort. He didn’t want to speak on his way into the Jobcentre but chose to do so on the way out. He has an injury to his knee and it’s in a large knee support, and because he was claiming Universal Credit he was handing sick notes in to cover him for this period of time. I advised him that he could claim ESA if the injury is going to cause a disability that might take some time to recover from and he took that advice on board. The DWP hasn’t made his life easy though and they are continuing to mess him about with his payments. Unfortunately, he didn’t go into great detail but I advised him and gave him a leaflet. I also asked him if he wanted a food parcel. He said no, he would be ok but his father who was stood behind him said: “Yes we do, I’m having to feed you and I have very little money”.  Having been in this situation myself, I gladly gave him a food parcel and at least they will eat better this week.

This is another hidden issue that not a lot of people speak about. I’ve been in this position myself and it’s very hard looking after a relative who has had their lifeline taken off them by the DWP for whatever reason that may be.

I felt a lot of stress and hardship when I had to do this, so this could well be what many people feel like when they are in the same situation. Cooking for one extra person might not seem to be a lot, but it soon mounts up. Also, there are the extra bills that have to be paid such as gas, electric etc. Managing from day to day is very hard indeed and demands on food banks and similar organizations grow as a result.

If a person has no family then it’s a dire situation to be in, so please have sympathy with those forced into this awful situation which wasn’t of their choice.

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I spoke to a man who was rushing down the road to talk to me. He was so upset. His situation has spiraled out of control, and he hadn’t followed up our advice on what to do and where to go. Seeking help is often very hard. It takes courage and swallowing of pride. Asking for and accepting help is very hard indeed.

I told him of a local organization that he can go to straight away to get some immediate help and that he must go now. The nights are getting cold and with his health conditions, I didn’t want him sleeping on the streets. I gave him a food parcel and a colleague (Karl) gave him a lift up to this organization. It was vital that he went, so we made sure that he did. Thanks, Karl.

We then started talking to a lady who had also previously attended Stalybridge Jobcentre. She also informed us of how different Ashton Jobcentre is. She wasn’t happy. She had been diagnosed with Bi Polar years ago but is new to the signing on  process and she was understandably overwhelmed. It was then that she started crying, saying that she is 58 years old and cannot physically look for work eight hours a day. She doesn’t know how to use computers and the system has confused her.

We advised her to make a claim for ESA and advised her of how to do this and where to go to get help to do so. She also said that she had no friends, so I told her that I would be her friend as did other members of the group. The tears disappeared and she felt supported and loved. This is exactly why we are there every week and will continue to be.

I also spoke to a young man who had been given a signing on appointment for the previous bank holiday Monday. Yes folks, bank holiday Monday. Of course, he couldn’t sign on and he informed the Jobcentre of this. The DWP were totally unsympathetic of course and informed him that he was now sanctioned for not attending. You really couldn’t make this up, could you?

It’s not the first time that we have seen this though and it isn’t unusual. He is appealing and he will win and overrule this sanction, but in the meantime, he is without money. We gave him appropriate advice and signposted to all local groups. Let’s hope that he takes this up.

I and a colleague started talking to a man who was a former policeman. He had taken early retirement and was attending the Jobcentre just to keep up his national insurance contributions. He told us of his struggles and that he is really struggling to manage on the pension that he has been given. I advised him to go to the local Citizens Advice centre where they can do a full benefit check for him. He says that he has now been forced back to looking for work, and will hopefully get one within the police force. He didn’t have a nice word to say about the Jobcentre and I don’t blame him.

We started talking to a lovely young woman who had lost her job due to no fault of her own. She had been working at a children’s day nursery and had been exploited, both of the hours and work that she was expected to do, but also because of her good nature. I can’t elaborate more due to the fact that she might be taking further action about this through her union. She might not, but I don’t want to ruin her chances of doing so if she does.

This is another issue that is growing sadly. The exploitation of staff by management at some private day nurseries. They usually employ young staff members and overwork them. of course, some don’t, and kudos to those that don’t. But for a long time now I have been hearing these stories. The apprentice scheme at these day nurseries can also exploit them, I’ve heard some awful stories about this also. It’s about time that all apprenticeships are properly regulated because young people should not be exploited. Young people should be respected because they are, after all our future.

We also had a few people in cars shout over to us saying the old ‘Get a job’ as if they were the first people to say it. It’s not clever nor is it smart. And to drive away as fast as they can makes them cowards in my eyes.

If they actually stopped and spoke to us they would realize that most of us are working, but on very limited incomes or retired. Sadly I’m used to it now.

Today we handed seven food parcels out, many thanks to Pat and the gang at Glossop for that. Many thanks also to Tom for the sandwiches that he donated they made a big difference.  We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

It honestly never ends. The suffering never ends and it is getting much worse than it ever has been. Even if we by some miracle could change governments tomorrow it will take years and I mean years to rectify the damage caused by this awful government. I really don’t have a clue how people will survive.

Next week is our four-year anniversary demo and the theme for this one is ‘Prisoners of the state.’ Please come and join us 10-12 Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old Street Ashton Under Lyne.  We also will hopefully have some special guests coming along. Tea and coffee will be available for all.

Please share my blog, talk about it, and there is a donate button below if anyone would like to donate.

Thank you.

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Todays demo, desperate people and a visit from Ray Woolford, author of the book Food Bank Britain.

I’ve just returned home from our weekly demo feeling a bit elated instead of deflated. That makes a change these days.

To start with the weather was wonderful, not raining and a bit sunny which always makes things easier. Not only for us, but for the people having to use the Jobcentre. There’s nothing worse than the rain and cold weather, and we get lots of both.

Roy arrived early with the food parcels, which was fab because it’s nice not to be standing alone, and because they are needed straight away. People are waiting for them which is a sad indictment of the governments attitude towards the poor.

As we were setting up, I spotted a lady and her young child stood at the corner of the Jobcentre. She was looking at the food parcels, and she looked a bit lost. I walked over to her, handed her a leaflet and asked her if she was ok. She wasn’t ok, no surprise there sadly. She’s going through a traumatic time at the moment and her money had been stopped due to no fault of her own.

I had a chat with her, signposted her to relevant organisations and handed her a food parcel to keep both her and her child going. She was so happy to receive this and at least she knows that she has some food to tide her and her child over.

Two of my friends surprised me today and arrived unexpected at the demo. Karl walked over with a nice cup of coffee for myself, which I shared with Roy. How nice was that of him. Little things like that mean a lot because the work that we do is hard and it gives us hope.

My friend Lel arrived showing compassion and solidarity. She brought her little boy who is adorable and it was a joy to see them both.

I spoke to a man who to be honest had just had enough. He told me that he had total solidarity with us all because he knows that we are telling the truth. He went on to say that he had worked all his life, but sadly had become ill. He had lost part of one leg, and the toes off his other leg. He didn’t want a food parcel, he just wanted to chat.

He said that it is wrong that people are targeted because they become ill, disabled and fall on hard times. That’s what we pay our national insurance for he said, and he’s correct.

He told us how unfair he thinks the ESA medicals are and told of the struggle that his friend has recently been through. His friend had attended their medical, and despite several illnesses had been refused their ESA payments. They are appealing though and have been signposted to the relevant organisations that will help with that. We never leave anyone without the necessary information and help. Today, this gentleman just needed someone to listen to because he feels marginalised and discriminated against, which he is of course.

Then Ray Woolford arrived. What an amazing campaigner, activist, author and all round good person he is. He had travelled all the way from London but yet it felt like \I had known him for forever. We do chat on Twitter though, maybe that’s why, or maybe it’s because we take the same stance on issues.

He is the author of the book Food Bank Britain, and I will put a link to it at the bottom of the blog. It’s a must read and I urge anyone that can afford to buy it to buy it.

Ray arrived bearing gifts. He brought a big flask for keeping drinks warm which we have needed for a long time now. It gets very cold outside the Jobcentre so now we can offer a warm drink to people, so thank you Ray. Also he gifted us a hi vis vest, both are given in the memory of an amazing campaigner, Christine Archibald, who was killed in the London Bridge terror attack. She was an amazing lady, who was a support worker for the homeless and her work will never be forgotten #chrissysentus

Even though Ray is based in London, we are experiencing the same issues, although we have experienced Universal credit for a lot longer than most areas. It was amazingly good to talk about these issues, and discuss and share ideas etc.

Ray you are a legend thank you so much.

Some of the food parcels were handed out to people who wanted to remain anonymous and I respect that. They are struggling supporting themselves and family members. Some are working and suffering  because of the benefit cap. It’s a very hard position to be in, because they are working they can find it hard to find help. But they were signposted and given food.

I spoke to a couple of WASPI ladies again, this time different women, both suffering as a result of not being able to claim their rightful pension. They have been shown a massive injustice and I really hope that they get their pensions.

I spoke to a young man who is receiving help from local organisations, so we just chatted and let him know that we are there for him to chat to as well. He’s doing so well and is a lovely young man.

Another young man shouted over to us saying that what we are saying is true, and that we should keep up the good work. He went on to tell me that he had just witnessed a lady being badly treated by her Jobcentre advisor after receiving a sanction. So I waited for her to leave, gave her a food parcel and signposted her to relevant organisations. I hope that I showed her some hope on such an awful day for her.

It’s hard to describe everything that we do in the space of two hours, but we do a lot. And we do our best to help everyone.

Today we had a good morale boost, made a new friend and helped lots of people. This is what we do best and whilst people still continue to need the help we will be there for them.

Please, if you are local to the Manchester area, come and say hello. We would love to meet you.

Many thanks to everyone that came along today, and to Steph who also made a special journey today. It is appreciated.

I am furious that the government treats people like this, but it’s expected from a Tory government. They care only for themselves, and unless a poorer person is of some value to them they will deprive them of their basic needs, humiliate them and degrade them. This is because this government does not hold any value on a working class person’s life unless they can make some money out of them.

Here is the link for Ray’s book.

 

 

http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/news-features/138/community-news/111800/antiausterity-campaigner-charlotte-hughes-guest-speaker-at-castleton-labour-meeting

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e155-Mental-health-The-vulnerable-suffer-what-they-must

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