Ten minutes early.. go away and come back.. Long Universal Credit waits. Speak poor English.. given a telephone number to phone instead of help. Nothing unusual but this shouldn’t be happening. Today’s demo.

Hi readers, sorry for being late in posting today, we had a mini meeting after the demo and as a result I haven’t had time to write the blog.

Anyway todays demo was a hard one as usual. The weather was awful yet again and we were busy from the offset. Every week its different and I never know what to expect and it would be wrong to expect anything wouldn’t it. Every person is an individual and their problems and worries are different as a result. Also every advisor is different, some are harsher than others, much harsher. Some have got a good reputation so far and yes I know who you are.

 

 

As I arrived I was stopped by a man straight away. He’s in an awful situation, his ESA was stopped and he’s now awaiting his first JSA payment to be made. Because he is appealing the ESA decision he can do this and he is getting help with this also.

He just wanted to chat etc and his girlfriend needed a little help also. He was left waiting for her outside the Jobcentre with us and waited for well over a hour. They really interrogated her today about several back to work courses, which as we know are mostly farcical. I hope she does start a course thats actually going to help her, there is one that does so fingers crossed. I won’t get started on The Workprogramme because it makes me irate and I could write a full blog on that subject. Let me know if you want to hear about that.

 

 

I then had to help a lady who’s second language is English with a telephone call to the DWP. I mean for gods sake she had to come out of the Jobcentre to make the telephone call and was told to do so by her advisor. She couldn’t understand the person on the other end of the telephone line so I helped her. Come on Jobcentre staff! This lady spoke poor English, not her fault and you should know better. It’s almost as if you are setting her up to fail (which you are aren’t you). If I hadn’t had helped her she wouldn’t have got the information that she needed. The information that she needed was the freepost address to send her sicknote to. This should have been given to her at the counter, failing that they should have supported her needs and made the telephone call for her. They really are despicable aren’t they.

 

 

We were then joined by Gerry, Malcom and Jill from Castleton Labour Club Rochdale. Can I say that I have the upmost respect for Castleton Labour Club, they are fab, really supportive of the campaign and myself and seeing them really cheered me up. They also brought some food to go into the food parcels which was amazing. Thank you!

IMG_3905.JPG

I then spoke to a man who had been turned away from the Jobcentre on more than one occasion. They kept telling him that he was too early. Ok the first time he was 15 minutes early, so he went for a walk in the cold and rain. He returned and was told that he was now 10 minutes too early so he had to leave again. This is common practice, its all part of the DWPs scheme to remind people who their master is (them) and how they must remember their place. Let’s grind people down until they are completely subservient to the DWPs bullying ways. It’s actions like this that can push someone over the edge and it often does.

 

 

I then had a chat with a man that just likes to come over for a chat. He isn’t having it easy, his living conditions aren’t ideal and he struggles with this at times. We had a good chat and he said that this makes his day a lot easier, that was nice.

 

 

I then spoke to a lady who had been transferred from Stalybridge Jobcentre and as a result she has to walk a few miles to attend her appointments at the Jobcentre. She is finding this hard, really hard and also has children to look after. She had recently had to wait 9 weeks for her first Universal Credit payment to start and as a result she had gone through only what I can describe as hell. She managed though, she didnt say how but she did say it was awful. As a result of having to wait this long she had to take a loan from the DWP to help her out. Upon recieving her first payment they took 40% of her money and will continue to do so until she has paid it back.

We had a chat, and she took a food parcel. I can’t reiterate to you how hard it is to accept a food parcel let alone ask for one. It’s like admitting that you are failing both your children and yourself and its always a very last resort. Today she just wanted to get home but she was given a copy of our survival guide, as was everyone that we spoke to. She also took a food parcel so that they could eat.

 

 

We are the 5th richest country in the world, yet we are treating our most vulnerable like this. It’s obscene but happens all the time. The budget yesterday did little to reassure anyone claiming Universal Credit. They’ll reduce the waiting time by a week. Yep right that won’t make a jot of difference because we can already effectively double the waiting time because I’ve never known a claim for Universal Credit to go through in 6 weeks. It was also announced that they will reduce the repayment amounts but this money should not have to be repaid. It’s money that they are entitled to receive to survive on. It’s disgusting. And yes I already know all of this I’m just reiterating a point, Universal Credit is a monster that I know well and despise.

 

 

We spoke to many people today, all with different needs. We provide help and support when a person is at their lowest and that does make a massive difference. Please don’t underestimate the need for this. It’s hard work, when I talk about some of the experiences that we’ve had, the suicides, the people going hungry, children eating out of tins, people crying, running off and saying that they can’t take any more it upsets me. By the way I always catch up with a person who is in that state. 1 in 5 benefit related deaths are a result of suicides, often after an unfair ESA decision or after being ill treated by a Jobcentre Advisor. This government has blood on its hands and lots of it, and one day they will be made accountable for this and I will be waiting for them.

 

We also handed out 6 food parcels today and I have to respect their request for confidentiality. Their needs come first I’m afraid.

 

We are holding a special day of action against Universal Credit alongside Unite The Union on the 2nd of December. We will be meeting outside the Jobcentre for 10 and walking around with leaflets etc. Please join us it would be fab if there are lots of us doing this.

 

Also our special Christmas Demonstration will be held on the 21st of December, the last Thursday before Christmas outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre  10-12. We will be handing out Mince pies and warm drinks. The theme will be ‘A Universal Credit Christmas’. Please come and join us we might also have some music.

 

A big shoutout to Roy who was feeling out of sorts today and my thoughts are with you.

Also a reminder to join my sister page The Poor Side Of Life on Facebook, and Tameside Against The Cuts on Facebook. Thank you!

 

Please read, share, email, talk about my blog. We need to continue the conversation. let’s not fall into the pattern of thinking that any of this cruelty metered out by the DWP is normal. It isn’t it’s conscious cruelty at its worst.

 

Also please donate if possible. My paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com

My donate button is no longer working because WordPress have changed the settings to only paid WordPress Blogs can have one. I can’t afford to pay so this is the next best thing. I can’t change my platform because people known where to find me etc. Sorry!

Thank you to everyone that has and does support us. Thank you to everyone that reads the blog also. I have still got a long way to go with this campaign and the battle continues. Thank you again!

I have also been extremely busy this week a campaign doesnt just finish on a Thursday afternoon. It continues continuously so if I am delayed responding to anyone this is why. Sorry!

Advertisements

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.

img_2286

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.

img_3574

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.

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

Ashton under Lyne Jobcentres equivalent of the X Factor is here! 

Ashton Jobcentre are now branching out into talent shows like the X factor. They now have recruitment agency called “reform radio” that whisk you off to Granada studios (at your expense of course) to record you speaking into a microphone telling folk what “talents” you have! Now is it just me but the very name “radio reform” is wrong. It’s insulting. Just because you are poor does not mean that you need “reforming”. 

It is also compulsory to attend this. If you don’t you will get sanctioned! 

Please don’t say it’s just myself that finds the whole thing ridiculous and offensive. 

Less time making up these silly courses and stunts and more time is needed to let jobseekers actually look for real jobs if they are able to.

I have emailed this radio station and am now awaiting a reply. Let’s hope they see the error of their ways.