Exclusion and life below the poverty line. 

Hi folks, I’m writing an extra blog in response to feedback given to me on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I put out the question ‘Would anyone like an extra blog per week, something a bit different to the posts about the demos’. The response was unanimous. A big yes, if I have the time so here it is. 
One subject that I am constantly reminded about is exclusion.

 I know that this will also be familiar to my readers also, but at times it can be blatantly obvious, and at other times not so obvious. 

Before I start writing further, I should explain my position to anyone that isn’t aware. I have no magic money tree, I’m just like you, like millions of people living in the uk. 

I’m a single parent, I live way below the poverty line and have had first hand experience of the DWP system and illness. LIfe isn’t easy for most of us, but I’m not complaining even though I should complain more. I have a wonderful daughter and amazing friends. At times I must try their patience. 
Exclusion comes in many forms, and anyone living in poverty wether it be relative poverty or absolute poverty will experience this, although the severity of it does differ. To put it bluntly the less money that you have, the less you can do. 

I hear friends talk about trips out, I’m sure that you do too, it’s lovely to hear about their adventures, but a the same time it serves as a reminder that apart from local free days out in reality its not an option. 
The  other week I had to pay for a school trip for my daughter. Parents will be familiar with this scenario. The children are excited about the prospect of a day out with their friends, whilst we go into a state of dread and panic worrying about how we are going to pay for this. Many children don’t go, their parents keep them at home. And the school system punishes the child for having time off school. They won’t get their 100% attendance award, a punishment on top of their missed day out. 
As an adult being poor also excludes you from trips to the nearest biggest town, clothes shopping, doing what I call ‘big shops’ yes, Peter Kay is correct in stating that we say these things. I also say ‘big light’. I’m a northern lass and proud of it. Bus fare in my area is very expensive, so the only option is to walk unless you are lucky enough to have a bike. 
Trips to the Cinema, or ‘Pictures’ as I still call it are totally out of the question, going out for a drink is also and having a meal in a restaurant is the stuff of dreams. And yes we do dream about being able to do these things. 
A trip to the Supermarket, if it’s in walking distance becomes an obstacle course in itself. For many people, especially those living in rural areas, there isn’t any choice in where they shop. So they time it for when the yellow stickers go on the food. Believe me it can be a challenge trying to get the bargains that have been reduced, but when you do you hold onto them like they are gold, afterall they can keep a family from hunger for the week. 

It’s not just about material things though, although they do matter. Alongside this comes the loneliness, the isolation and the knowledge that you are ‘different’ than others around you. Taking part in something positive to do can stop a person from spiriling down into the depths of depression. But we just have to accept that we can’t do these things even though we would like to. And small things do matter. 
Friends become fewer, opportunities become fewer and health often becomes worse. 

With a poor diet, illness often accompanies it. It’s no surprise that there has been a return of victorian illnesses such as Rickets in children because children just don’t get access to a varied diet, and the sunlight that’s needed to prevent this. 

Adults and children have to deal with illnesses such as depression, anemia, insomnia, hypothermia, malnutrition, anxiety and many more besides. Whilst the government is busy selling off the NHS to the likes of Richard Branson, the demand is getting higher. We won’t be able to afford medical insurance it’s not an option. 


Why am I writing this you may ask? Everyone must know all this? The reality is, no not everyone does know this. The Tory Party is aware of this but choose for their selfish reasons to ignore it and make it purposely worse. There’s no use in asking for them to be sympathetic. They re created this cruelty in a very conscious way. 

I’m writing this to raise awareness, for people to be a little more understanding of each other. 

The next time a child’s parent’s can’t pay a school trip, don’t criticise and moan about it, instead understand the reasons why they can’t pay. No parent actually wants to exclude them from a school trip, and if a child gets a subsidised place, good on them, don’t hold it against that child or parent. It takes a lot to admit to a school that they can’t afford to pay for a school trip. 

If a child arrives at school in a less than pristine uniform show compassion instead of criticism. Ask the school if they can start a school uniform clothes bank. Some schools already have these. 

If a friend can’t join you for a night out, or a trip to the cinema, don’t show off about it in front of them, nor should you talk about them behind their backs. Instead ask them how they are feeling and be a good friend. 

If a person is hungry show them where the nearest food bank is, or offer compassion. Compassion costs nothing. If you can buy them a sandwich then that might just make them feel human again. Giving someone hope will also do this. 

People shouldn’t be tossed aside because they supposedly dont ‘fit in’. Everyone is important, and so are their right to a decent standard of living. 

More and more people are excluded from housing, vulnerable people left on the streets to beg whilst low funded organisations try and help them, try to keep them safe and feed them. The government has completely absolved themselves from any responsibility, nor do they care about how many people die as a result. 
People are made to feel worthless, subhuman and unimportant by the DWP system of sanctioning and failed medicals which are still being conducted by the likes of Atos. People are dying everyday as a result, but the government just shrug their shoulders and look the other way. 

A WASPI lady committed suicide after the general election because she felt stressed, unworthy and unwanted. Isolated at a time when she should have been enjoying her retirement. Once again the government don’t care. 
On Friday I had to travel to Manchester, something that I don’t do as regularly as I used to. I had to use the public loos and I started a conversation with two young homeless women. They were lovely women, bright, bubbly and friendly. They told me about their life on the streets, and the difficulties they face every day. Both told me that they had been begging all morning and hadn’t got any money, they needed a pound so I gave it to them. They also needed a hairbrush so I gave them mine. I got hugs from them, and smiles that I haven’t seen for a long time. I couldn’t change their situation, but a little bit of kindness gave them hope that people do care. And thats all it takes sometimes. 
In an ideal world we would have a society that wouldn’t exclude anyone, where everyone would have a home, money in their pocket, food and have the support that they need. It’s called socialism and this country is crying out for it. 

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Our 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!

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Exhausted and Thursdays demo.

As usual I’ve been very busy this week, its been a mentally challenging week and the implementation of the new benefit cap and the american elections hasn’t helped.

We all have our own struggles, and mine have been compounded by the reminder of Christmas looming and my daughters birthday next week. Not being able to afford either is a struggle, and is a struggle for thousands of parents. We don’t normally speak about it we just muddle on and do our best. And the government have just made it a whole lot worse.

Anyway, enough about me. Thursday was an exceptionally cold day. We had wind, rain, hail and snow all in the space of a couple of hours. Not unusual for the north west of England. The cold atmosphere emanating from inside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre certainly did not help matters.

As I was unpacking my leaflets from my trusty shopping trolley I noticed a young man stood outside the Jobcentre watching me. He looked cold and worried so I walked over to him and asked him if he would like a leaflet. At first he was hesiitant, but after I explained what the leaflet was about and who I was he opened up.

He had been sanctioned twice for non attending appointments which he never received notice about. This is not unusual and I have wrote about this before. He was not told of his right to appeal against their decision. So I informed him, of his rights and he confirmed that he would take action. We had a good chat and he went inside the Jobcentre for his appointment.

I noticed that there was alot of older people having to attend the Jobcentre this week, hardly any of them suitably dressed for the weather. We engaged in conversation and handed leaflets to them. They need to know that they aren’t alone.

We spoke to a young woman who had to attend the Jobcentre with her young baby. She’s claiming ESA and her Jobcentre advisor is treating her appallingly. She suffers extreme anxiety and was shaking when we were speaking to her. She told us that her advisor had told her to stop crying and shaking because she seems many other claimants and they don’t cry and shake. She showed a wilful ignorance of this poor ladies medical condition.

This poor woman has been made to jump constantly through hoops, the requests made upon her are unreasonable and we explained this to her. I told her that she must get help and advice asap and to see her local MP, whom luckily is very sympathetic and pro active. We gave her a food parcel which was much needed, and we let her know that we are there for her to support her. Knowing that you aren’t on your own makes a massive difference and can sometimes make that difference between life and death.

We handed out all food parcels in record time, but I must state for anyone attending our demos that they are given on a first come, first served basis. The demand for them is really high because there is so many people having to use the Jobcentre who is hungry. I just wish that there was more that I could do. Also there’s no shame in needing a food parcel. The shame is directed to the government who are knowingly and willfully allowing innocent people to starve. This is never acceptable. We also handed out portions of home made curry donated kindly by a comrade. It was very warmly welcomed and was a nice surprise.

We did so much more, and the turnout for our demo was at one point 25. I think this is amazing. Comrades braved the cold weather to support the people who are forced to use the Jobcentre, they wanted to show solidarity which is amazing. They are all wonderful.

This weeks demo was absent of the “Go and get a job” or “Scumbag” hecklers. It was a refreshing change, maybe the cold weather scared them off.

Some good news this week, which was convieniently hidden within the American election results. I’ve got to hand it to the Daily Mail, they are good at releasing news, when they know it will be hidden. The United Nations Court Of Human Rights has issued the first part of their very damning report into the way the sick and disabled are being treated by the government and the DWP. This report is very damning, and I’m sure that they would like it to be swept under the carpet. Unfortunately for them, it’s not going to be. Both myself, comrades from DPAC who are absolutely amazing and other groups will be constantly reminding them. It’s an issue close to my heart, especially after helping claimants for so long. I would say on average about 75% OF claimants that I talk to are disabled and have failed their ESA medical. Some days that figure is higher, but never lower. It’s appalling.

A big shoutout to everyone who came along this week, it was amazing to see you. A big shoutout to everyone that supports us online, it really means alot. Also a big thanks to Pauline, Rick Burgess, Dianne and everyone else that has had to put up with me this week. A massive thank you.


As you have read, this campaign is really hard work. Alot of time is involved on the streets, talking to people and attending meetings. Indeed, Ive just returned from a meeting despite feeling under the weather. The campaign comes first as always! Because one day we will have justice for everyone who has died and suffered as a result of this governments inhumane treatment of the poorset and most vulnerable in society. Austerity is a political choice not a necessity.
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Sick note refused under government new scheme. 

This is a true shocking account of a young persons visit to their G.P recently.  Sadly it’s true and I’m hoping that most G.Ps are refusing to implement this. 

I’m going to call this person X. It’s quite appropriate because that as I see it is how this government sees most vulnerable people in this country. This government has a great disdain for the poor, sick and vulnerable indeed I have been quoted in the past as saying that this is a war against the poor and those in need. This is another tactic that they want to employ. 

Many times now this Tory government has been quoted as saying that they they want to get rid of ‘the sick note culture’. They don’t want anyone off work. People are expected to quite literally work themselves to death. Getting a sick note is seen by the Tory party as ‘a conveyor belt to a life on benefits’. 

Indeed it is not. Most sick notes are obtained as a necessity to get over a bout of illness or to recover from an illness. Sick notes are no longer handed out like sweets at a sweet shop. It’s not easy getting one and you do have to be ill to get one. 

X attended the doctors on Friday. It was an emergency appointment. They were very anxious and depressed and wanted to take their own life. The doctor refused a sick note even though X was suicidal. Why? Because young people should be in work. The government wants you in work they quoted. X was very upset at this and it triggered another anxiety attack. They are now challenging this. I do hope this doctor is acting out of the ordinary. Being suicidal is a good enough reason for a sick note. 

This led me to undergo a bit more research. I have found out that the government have introduced a scheme where all GPs refer patients that have had a sick note for 4 weeks or more to a private company. Much like ATOS I suspect. 

This is supposed to be a trial but as with all government trials they quickly become permanent.

The new scheme will cost £134 million over 4 years and is aimed at people who are off work with long term illnesses. 

The new programme was piloted in 20 GP surgeries from February this year and will now be extended nationwide. Patients who agree yo be referred will undergo a telephone assessment of their physical and mental abilities from trained nurses and occupational therapists. It’s called the “fit for work service”. 

The British Medical association has said it will boycott the scheme if doctors felt it was forcing people back to work. Business leaders of course said it should be compulsory.

It’s wrong in my eyes that the sick are being targeted again like this. 

It’s also wrong that a young suicidal person was refused a sick note because “the government wants you to work” regardless of how sick and unable you are to do so.   

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Committed suicide because of a wonga loan. 

It’s true this government is driving people to take out loans with unscrupulous money lenders and pay day loan companies such as Wonga etc. I live on a council estate and there are always money lenders putting leaflets through doors or knocking on doors. People are so desperate for loans to buy basic things and white goods if they break down. Long gone are the days when you could ask the DWP for a loan and local authorities have had their funds cut so drastically that they can’t offer a white good service either. 

Now this leaves people in a desperate situation. Let’s say their fridge or cooker breaks down. They need a replacement but they don’t have the ready cash to buy one to hand. This is when companies like Brighthouse and Perfect Home seem so attractive. They offer white goods, settees and televisions at what seem like reasonable weekly repayments. But these repayments quickly mount up. The staff persuade you that you can afford more than you can. The debt soon becomes out of control and before they know it more or less all of your money is being given to these unscrupulous companies. 

Desperation sets in and vulnerable people can often take desperate action. Suicides, attempted suicide can occur because they can see no way out. They are hounded daily by companies such as Brighthouse and Wonga. It’s a horrible feeling. There’s nowhere to turn they feel. 

This young man had everything to look forward to in life. He wanted a new start took a loan out and didn’t realise that they would empty his bank account to take back a repayment. He was very vulnerable and the pressure was too much. 

Rest in peace Kane. Your death will be sadly remembered and actions to prevent this happening again will be taken. The coroner was clearly disturbed by this and he is taking this matter up. 

  
Full details can be found on the Manchester evening news website. 

Of course this suits the government well. These companies are often owned by tax dodging bosses and they also take the pressure of this government. It’s a win win situation for them. So what if someone commits suicide. They don’t care we are just a number to them. 

I apologise for not updating my blog lately. My life has been very stressful lately and my daughter is in hospital fighting a tumour behind her eye. 

Because of this I have seen the best and the worst of treatment offered by the NHS. I’ve seen how drastically underfunded they are and how much a struggle it is for the nurses and doctors. Please support the NHS it is the backbone of this country and we need to fight to save what is left of our NHS. 

Donations towards my blog are most gratefully received. Writing this blog takes time away from my paid work but it is important that I keep blogging.

Five more years of tyranny. 

Shocked could be a word that I could use, but I won’t. Thatcher got voted in for a second and third term in parliament despite much opposition. So then the Tory party got re elected it wasn’t so much of a shock, it felt like something had died in our country. Yes the Tories have regained their power and will no doubt use this power, unopposed by anyone to inflict the worst damage that has ever been known to the poorest in society. 

I was interviewed by a local paper whilst at the election count and the reporter said to me “How would you feel if the conservatives won the election?” I said that I would feel sick, I would cry. I would not be crying for myself I would be crying for the people of this country. A country that will be systematicically destroyed and taken apart by the Tory party for the benefit of the rich. I don’t use the name that the Tory party have rebranded themselves with. The very name conservative does not suit them. The definition of the word conservative is to not like change, to be quiet. Well they are going to do exactly the opposite. We know this. They plan to dismantle this country as we know it bit by bit, piece by piece. Every single safety net that we have relied on will soon be gone. If it doesn’t benefit the rich then it will no longer exist. Make no mistake they don’t care for anyone who isn’t one of them.

My first experience of the Tory party began when Mrs thatcher came into power. Even as a child I knew that this would be bad. For the first time in my life I felt what it was like to be poor. We had holes in our shoes, filled by cardboard and had no money for anything other than to exist. If it wasn’t for my grandparents we wouldn’t have had new clothes. My father was an engineer, a trade he didn’t really like but it was a job and we depended on it. Back then we had local industry, and we depended on that industry. I was told that the Tory party were bad, they only looked out for themselves and he was right. As a result there was strikes, but as a child I knew that what they were fighting for was right. I remember arguing with my parents about this. But I always had this belief that we must stand up for what is right.

So what now? Do the people who have voted in this government again realise exactly what they have voted for? I doubt that they do. Many I suspect have read and believed the mainstream news and voted as a result of the innacurate stories in the newspapers. Here’s a list of what will most likely happen, now there is no one to stand in their way.

The snoopers charter will be passed. Say goodbye to your privacy.

The NHS will be sold. There is opposition to this and Caroline Lucas is the head of this opposition. I hope that she gets enough backing to prevent the sale of our precious NHS.

TTIP will happen. This will have vast implications on our country as a whole.

Zero hour contracts will increase. More likely they will become the norm.

The benfit sanctioning regime will become worse, if it possibly can.

Homelessness will increase massively.

No social housing will be built. 

The human rights act will be scrapped.

Climate change investments will be slashed.

The BBC TV license will be scrapped and a subscription based service introduced.

Employment regulations will be slashed, they will merge regulators and cut costs.

The Tory party want to reduce seats in parliament to 600 from 650. This will be pushed through as a priority, making it difficult for another party to get into power in 2020.

There will be a referendum in Europe.

Fracking plans will go ahead. 

Cameron’s majority is wafer thin and he now only has a majority of 10 very rebellious back benchers to whip. Maybe this will work in our favour….

What can we do now? 

All anti austerity parties need to now join together in solidarity. We need to put aside any differences and work together. By doing this we will form a very powerful opposition indeed. We didn’t quite get it right before the election but we can do now. And the Labour Party needs to become the left wing party that it used to be. They will gain more support if they stop cosying up to austerity ideas and plans. They need to start saying no. By supporting all people again not just working people. We also need to look at the SNP and learn from them. They started as a small minority party but have grown massively. 

We can survive this, and we will by joining together. If you work join a union, if you don’t join unite in the community. The Tory party will try and attack the unions as much as possible now. And whilst they haven’t acted as strongly as they should have done in the past I feel that they will start to act more strongly now. There’s strength in numbers and we need to remember that. 

Always remember that a compliant society is easy to control, a non compliant society isn’t easy to control. So let’s not make this easy for them. 

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Want to know more about how and why the NHS is being privatised? Please watch this.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=Cz5dl9fhj7o