Today’s demo. Food parcels taken immediately, anger, frustration and a visit from a French film maker. 

To say that today’s demo was busy is an understatement. It was both hectic and stressful. We also got a fair bit of verbal abuse from passers by.  Today was one of those days. 
As soon as I arrived I met the lovely man who is making a film about the awful DWP system in the UK. We had a quick discussion about what he was wanting to do. He also explained to me that the French government might be thinking of implementing a similar system. Awful. He’s against this. 
Gordon was taking the food parcels out of his car boot. As soon as he took them out they were all taken. We had none left at 10.05…. This says a lot to me. A stark reminder that far too many people are suffering. 

As soon as they had been taken a man arrived asking for a food parcel. They had all gone so I gave Gordon some money and he took him to the shop next door. Thank you Gordon. 

Then two more people arrived asking for food parcels. We had none and I was panicking slightly when I saw a member of the team, Pat arrive. She buys food from the cheap shop next door when she is able to come. Thank goodness for her because these people were able to have food. 

The need was greater than ever today.  The government and this cruel system have taken the very soul out of the people from my local town. No wonder it’s run down. Lack of funding from the government and lack of money for the basics ensures that the community suffers greatly and it breaks my heart. 
As we were talking to each other, a man stood across the way started shouting abuse at us for no reason at all. I understand his anger, he might have thought that we worked for the DWP or something. However he didn’t give us a chance to explain. I hope that he’s OK and that he’s getting the support that he needs. No one should be driven to feel that amount of anger. 
We spoke to a lovely man who has £4.50 to last him for two weeks. He took a food parcel from us last week and he was given another this week. 

He’s a lovely, polite man who had worked all his life. Seeing him in this state is awful though. His confidence has gone, he can’t wash his clothes and is struggling to keep going. He told us that we are his lifeline at the moment. We regard him as a friend. 
We spoke to a lady who had attempted to go in the Jobcentre and support her friend for her first interview with her advisor. She was wrongfully told that she wasnt allowed to do this, so we informed her friend of her right to do so. 

It might appear petty, but the breaking of these rules by the DWP sets the standard of how the claimant will be treated by that advisor. If they are aware that a person is not aware of their legal rights regarding Job searches etc then they will run roughshod over them. My advice to anyone having to make a claim is to research your legal rights and stand firm. 
Too many WASPI ladies were having to use the Jobcentre today. This always upsets me. The government has basically conned them out of their right to a decent retirement and pension. 
We had a person in a car drive past shouting “Get a job”…. As if we haven’t heard that before. Funny how they don’t get out of their cars and say it, they shout it and dive away at speed. 
I spoke to a lovely chap that I had helped in the past. He was looking much better and he wanted to say thank you. It was lovely seeing him. 
A lovely man started talking to us about the awful treatment that he had received from Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre and the DWP.  He was very vocal about it, good on him. He is in between jobs and only wanted to ask one question. He was refused that. This is how petty the Jobcentre is. 

He also went on to tell the film maker how awful it is inside the building and how the security guards are, as he described ‘like the Gestapo’. He’s not wrong there. 

He told us that his partner lives in London and her payment had been stopped for no apparent reason. She hasn’t received a letter which is usual. She’s got children, so the children might not be able to eat this week. It’s beyond disgusting. 

We gave him a leaflet which has a number for the Greater Manchester Law Centre. He is phoning them to get the details of local organisations in London that can help her. They are very pro-active there, and so is this man. 
We spoke to a man who sadly is in the belief that he will get his Esa for life. I hope that he does, but the chances of that aren’t high. 
Almost everyone that had to use the Jobcentre were rushing, looking at the ground on misery. This is what the system does to you. It stresses you out and wears you down. It literally never ends. 
Today was stressful, lots of different issues were brought to light. It’s hard work, and anyone that has attended our demos will attest to that. 
Before the demo started I bought a tent for a homeless chap that I buy a coffee for every day. His tent had been destroyed by someone and the local organisations had none. I hope that he is safe tonight. 
As for myself, I haven’t stopped and I apologise for the extra blogs. 

Please spare a thought for each and every person forced to endure this cruel system. And while Ian Duncan Smith still states that the film I, Daniel Blake is a work of fiction, I can say that it is not. The reality is even worse than the film. One day I will tell him so. 

Please share my blog, talk about it, tell your friends. Thank you
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Also a MASSIVE thank you to all the team for being amazing and really going out of your way to help people. You are all fantastic. 

Thank you oncw again. 


Sanctioned for making a spelling mistake.

You couldn’t make it up… Well actually it’s become the norm to be sanctioned for making a spelling mistake. A gentleman who spoke to us on our Thursday demo told us that he was put on a three month sanction at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for making a spelling mistake. He wasn’t given a chance to correct it, or a chance to explain it. He was told very bluntly “we are sanctioning you for spelling this word incorrectly on a form. This will prevent you from getting work so therefore is a sanctionable offence”. This man received a three month sanction for this so called offence. No one bothered to ask him if he was dyslexic or had any other issues which may have prevented him from spelling the word correct. Neither is it a crime to spell a word incorrectly. Indeed we are all human and are prone to making mistakes. This is shocking but had become the norm at this Jobcentre and jobcentres up and down the country. It reminded me of why Jobcentres were created in the first place. They were created to help you find work. They also used to help you fill in forms and make telephone calls if this was required. They were very productive places in those days, you stood a chance of finding work and not being sanctioned. I prefer to call Jobcentres sanction centres now as their main aim is to get people off benefits in any way possible. If bullying, sanctioning, coercing claimants to commit suicide and taking away a persons every means of survival is needed to do this then they will do this…. They have targets to reach, and reach them they will by whatever means possible.

Another issue I would like to write about is the ever increasing amount of homeless people sleeping roughon our streets. I’m not talking about people that are homeless and are sofa surfing, that’s another issue that I may cover in the future. I’m well aware that there are hundreds of homeless people sofa surfing or in temporary accommodation in my town.Indeed in my small town I have been give a rough number of those sleeping rough on the streets as totalling towards 20. It’s shocking, but my local authority deny this saying there is no homeless.. Neither is there much if any provision for them. There are a couple of shelters and outreach places where they can go, but many homeless people have complex needs and cannot access these. Many have ptsd which prevents them sharing accommodation which is the only accommodation available to them. Indeed a local homeless man whom I have got to know quite well said that my local council refused him a night shelter when the temperature outside reached below 0 as the law says that they have to provide some kind prof provision. It seems that three met office apps stating the temperature wasn’t good enough. Tameside council have their own app which stated it was above 5 degrees…. Well I’ve never seen frozen grit at 5 degrees before. The council officer stated this then ran into the back and locked the man and his helpers out of the building. As a result he spent a very cold night on the streets. He said to me that it was that cold his fingers froze, he says that he knows it’s below zero when they do that.

Four people came to speak to us about their three month sanctions which were conveniently issued just before Christmas. All for totally illegal reasons. Most are being challenged. But the result was a very cold and miserable christmas for them with no food or heating or indeed light. We put some hats and gloves out on the table at our demo for anyone that needed them. Claimants were going in freezing. One man came up to me and gave me a hug and said thank you very much I can be warmer now. A member of our group put some food on the table and it was very thankfully taken by a man that hadn’t eaten for three days. We hope he felt better after eating.

All of the above is so wrong, and it breaks my heart. We need to stop this and we also need to help each other more if we can. Let’s show this government and to the future government that wants four more years of austerity and will be worse than the Tories, that we can and we will help each other and we will stand together and show this government that this is wrong. Austerity doesn’t work indeed we can see that it doesn’t. Don’t vote for any future government that wants it. Vote for a government that is opposed to it and actually wants to help the poorest in society. We can do it.

Why did the select committee fail us?

Last week there was a select committee at parliament which covered the issues surrounding sanctioning at Job Centres throughout the country. At first I was excited about this I naively thought that we might be given a decent representation and would be given chance to have our say. Not so. I myself had sent quite a few details of illegal sanctioning from Ashton Under Lyne Job Centre. I had hoped to have heard something from the committee even an acknowledgement. No not a thing. Then other organisations have contacted me stating the same thing. No response from them at all and no mention of this at all.
I’m not happy. The people of this country and the government need to be told of the reality of sanctioning. Now I am asking another question to Anne Begg who was the spokesperson for that committee. Why did you not acknowledge our concerns? I truly think that we deserve to be heard so I am calling for another fair hearing.