Today’s demo. Frustration, food parcels and anger. 

I was a bit anxious about the demo this morning for two reasons. The first being the weather, it looked like the heavens were about to open and Odin was about to pour all his wrath upon us. Secondly, it’s the school holidays and I have to bring my daughter with me. She’s normally very good, but is an active, intelligent girl that can easily become fed up. 

My fears were unfounded though, because the sun shone, it was warm and my daughter was kept busy thanks to my friend Karl and my friend Lel. My friends are wonderful thank you. 


As I arrived so did the food parcels. it wasn’t a long wait, and Roy dropped them off. He’s amazing. He used to work for Citizens Advice amongst other organisations and is now retired, although I don’t think that he has much spare time! 

I had noticed a lady that we hadn’t seen for a few weeks waiting across the way for a food parcel. I had been worried about her, but she assured me that she was ok. She took a food parcel and I double checked that she is getting all the advice and support locally that she needs. She said that she was, but she’s very quiet and isn’t too happy taking to new people. I will try and help her with this though. 
I spoke to a man that said that he needed a food parcel. He said that he was on the verge of becoming homeless and was caught up in a mess that he feels that he can’t see a way out of. He would only speak to me, and as well as offer him a food parcel, I asked him to go straight to a local drop in to see if he can get some extra support and help. He told me that he would, but I’m not sure if he did. I can only try my best to help people to engage. 
I spoke to a lady who is struggling with her Universal Credit payments. She’s waiting for her first payment to arrive and they keep changing dates and payment amounts. The poor woman doesn’t know if she is coming or going. They have told her that she will most likely receive her money in two weeks time, but two weeks without money can seem like a lifetime especially when you have children. She’s also having trouble with her child benefit payments. 

She is getting advice from our local Citizens advice Bureau, but I also signposted her to another local organisation. I really hope that she went to see them, but once again, I can’t force anyone. If they don’t know them they might not trust them. The whole DWP system makes them feel this way. 

As I was handing leaflets out and advising people, two men dressed very smartly walked towards the doors of the Jobcentre. I asked them if they were from any agency etc, and they replied that they wern’t but they investigate fraud cases. 

It was then that I recognised one of these men. I had taken a lady for an appointment at the Jobcentre under the guise of checking that she was recieving the correct benefits. When we were sat at the table I noticed that on the top of his letter, it said fraud in big letters. Of course I immediately questioned this because I knew that without a doubt that this lady had never committed any kind of benefit fraud, or crime in her life. I asked him about why she was there for fraud when her letter said a benefit check. I also asked him for any evidence of any so called fraud. Of course he couldn’t answer me, he went on to say that he would do a benefit check, which he did and she was claiming everything that she was entitled to. I knew this of course. 

Watch out for this folks, this is how they can catch you out, especially innocent vulnerable people. Always take a witness with you to any such meetings and make a full record of the conversation, either written of verbally recorded also. Don’t let them catch you out. I’ve seen too many peoples lives destroyed in this way. 

On their way out of the building he looked at me and gave me a glare, which was ok, because I was already glaring at him.

We also handed food parcels out to people that don’t want to be mentioned, but their struggle was real. They are very brave in the shadow of adversity and are the true heroes of this world. 
Towards the end of our demo a lady walked up to a colleague shouting at him. We had never seen her before. She was an elderly lady who was very obviously fed up with the system. She went on to rant about scroungers etc etc. Whilst I cannot sympathise with the words that she spoke, I can understand why she is angry. 

The town that we live in has been run down so much it was unrecognisable to a 70yr old man that we spoke to today. He had just returned back to England from South Africa where he had lived for many years. He told us that he didn’t recognise the place. It’s awful he said, no wonder young people have no hope. They’ve got nothing to look forward to, no chance of a decent job, no chance of anything. He said when an area looks run down and uncared for so do the people living there. I totally agree with this. 
The government has systematically destroyed communities, are not supporting people adequately in their time of need and cut a person’s lifeline off when they decide to sanction them. 

We can’t as a country carry on like this for much longer, something will have to give way, and the government realises this. 

When it’s time to vote folks, use your vote wisely. I can’t stress how important that this is. 


A massive thank you to everyone that managed to join us today. It was a very slow start, but I’m so happy that you all arrived. Thank you so much. 

Thanks to my daughter for taking the photos. She’s fab. 

Please share and talk about this blog as much as possible. A lot of people still have no idea of what life is like for people having to endure signing on and claiming any type of benefit. It’s heartbreaking having to share these stories every week, and often we return home upset and frustrated. 

Also please donate if you can. Every penny helps thank you! 
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Blackberry Crumble. Frugal and almost free to make! 

it’s that time of the year again, time to harvest the free fruit that grows around us. 

Blackberries grow almost everywhere, even in urban areas and they are a delight that we should all take advantage of. 

They are high in vitamins, and if you can’t afford to buy fruit and vegetables from a supermarket or shop, you can pick these for free. 

Children love eating these whilst picking and my daughter always eats more than we take home. 

There are lots of things that can be made from Blackberries. Jam, Cake, Crumble, Wine, Cordial. The list goes on and on. 

Yesterday, because the sun was shining for a change and I’m skint and didn’t have anything sweet at home, we decided that we would go Blackberry picking and make some Blackberry crumble when we returned home. 

This is how I make it, everyone has their own tastes and therefore the recipe can be adjusted to suit yours. My reciepe is very basic. 


It’s important to wash your Blackberries after picking and to soak them in a very diluted solution of salt and water. This helps any bugs and debris  that might be lurking to float to the top. I’ve never come across any bugs, but I keep up the tradition of doing this. Call me old fashioned, but if it was good enough for my grandparents to do then I will follow suit. 


After soaking place in a dish of your choice. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one. The one that I use is an old lasagne one left over from the days when I could afford to cook lasagne. You can use any dish that’s suitable for the oven. 


Once in the dish, sprinkle with normal granulated sugar to taste. If you have a sweet tooth add more, if not add less. I also added Cinnamon mainly because we like the taste and for the various health properties that it has. 


Time to make the topping. 

My daughter and put as much flour as we thought would be needed to cover the top in a bowl. Yes, we played it by eye. We like a lot of topping and I’m really bad at using exact measurements. 

I grated enough cold butter to mix and bind the four together so it resembles sand once finished. Again we used guesswork and I’m hopeless with measurements. 

I also added some sugar and cinnamon. Just enough to make it nice and sweet. 


My daughter then placed the topping on top of the Blackberries. She likes to make a pattern on the top. She’s ten years old and it’s a good sensory activity for her. This did take her some time to perfect her pattern!


Ready to put in the oven. 

I placed it in the oven at gas mark 5, 375f and 191c. 

I watched it and took it out when it looked ready. It really wasn’t in the oven long therefore not using much energy up. 


The finished creation. 

This can be ate on its own, with custard (the packet custard is really good with this), and if you can afford it it can be ate with cream and Icecream also. 

To make this a vegan dish just replace the butter with a vegan equivalent. 

Happy eating! And don’t forget to look out for the blackberries. 

I’m harvesting some cherries from a friends cherry tree today, and will also be harvesting some Sloe berries to make some christmas presents with. 

Free food given to us by nature is the best food! Enjoy! 

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

Please donate if you can, every penny helps! Thank you! Also sharing the blog is just as important and is appreciated also! Thank you!

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A hard morning. A man crying, rain pouring. It’s supposed to be August.

I’m not going to bother you with talking about the weather, I’ve said it in today’s blog title. It was raining AGAIN. Will we ever get a break, and have some good weather for once? My heart went out to Richard, a homeless chap who I buy a cuppa for most mornings and chat to. We always put the world to rights. He deserves a medal, such a nice man who has unfortunately fallen on hard times.

Gordon, who normally drops the food parcels off is currently unwell, get well soon Gordon! We missed you today! So Roy collected them also. He’s not feeling 100% well either, nor am I but we plod on and thank you so much, Roy, for your help and dedication.

IMG_3173

 

The food parcels went to people who had no food or very little through no fault of their own. it’s extremely hard to manage on the meagre amount of money that the government provides, that is, if you haven’t been sanctioned or refused your rightful claim of ESA. People still have to pay the bedroom tax and the council tax supplement. They also might have debts to pay, gas and electric to buy. The list never ends does it?

 

 

I spoke to a man who had been made homeless due to no fault of his own. He was living in very sub standard accommodation and had complained about it. The landlord then made the decision to evict him. I’m not sure about the exact details, but I do know that he hadn’t received adequate advice regarding how to claim housing benefit etc. If we had met him previously we would have done so.

He started to cry and went on to tell me that yes he does drink, but not to get drunk. Just enough to stop getting ill. “I’m 47 years old, I never expected that I would be living like this. I had a home, a life. I worked. Now I’m treated like crap and only a few care”

He took his phone out of his pocket and showed me the photos of his previous accommodation. To say it was disgusting is a massive understatement. No one should be forced to live like this and my heart went out to him.

We did signpost him to relevant organisations, and he assured us that he will work with them the best that he can do.

 

 

I said hello to a man that I’ve seen in my local area for a few years now. He’s a refugee and has managed to get permanent residence to stay and work in the UK.  His advisor is giving him a hard time though, most likely because his English is poor and from experience, they do target people with a poor grasp of the English vocabulary.

They have had him on daily signing on appointments for a long time now, he hasn’t been told why but he has to attend or get sanctioned. When a person is put on daily signings they are given a special card that gets them into the Jobcentre quickly. I would say a get out of jail card, but it’s more like a get in jail card. They told him that he wasn’t allowed to show anyone the card but I saw it. Their excuse is that it’s the property of the DWP. No, it’s not. If the gentleman has to carry this with him every day, then it’s his property. He can show who he likes when he likes.

Look out for people having to carry these cards. They are a sign that the person carrying it has been singled out for some reason, so it’s always worth asking them.

 

 

I spoke to an older gentleman who had been refused his ESA. I offered him help, but he is a man on a mission and was adamant that he will be appealing and he has it in hand. So hopefully he has, and hopefully, he will overturn that decision, as so many rightfully do.

 

 

I spoke to a young lad who has managed to find a bed at a local homeless hostel. He’s trying his best to sort his life out and to get on top of his mental health issues. It’s not going to be easy living there, but I could tell from what he was saying that he will do it.

 

 

We saw far too many older people forced to use the Jobcentre today, one man, in particular, looked very ill but didn’t want to speak to anyone. That place does that to you. The system can make a person shy away and become wary of society. They are treated like rubbish by their so called advisors, so expect the same from everyone else.

 

 

Once again, far too many WASPI women forced to use the Jobcentre and also far too many women with very young children. This also breaks my heart.

 

 

There were only four of us there today, I and Roy were on our own for a good while. It was tough, heartbreaking and stressful, but we will always be there to help others. They need the support.

 

Today should have been our 4th anniversary, but I made the decision to postpone our special demo because we have guests from other campaigns coming to visit in several weeks and I would like it to coincide with their arrival.

 

I couldn’t take photos because I left the big camera at home due to the rain, and the phone I’m using is rubbish so please forgive me. I am trying to rectify this though.

I’m tired, a tad fed up but I won’t stop helping those in need because their journey is far harder than mine.

 

 

Please donate help keep the blog and campaign going if you can. If not please share. It’s important that we keep talking about this all the time. This has become a full-time job for myself, and anyone spending any time with me will attest to that.

Thank you!

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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!

.

Claimant told to break his probation to attend Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. 

As I arrived for our weekly demonstration I was approached by a young man who appeared a little anxious. I took my leaflets out of my shopping trolley and asked him if he would like one. I could see that he was cold and worried.

He was a pleasant young man who had just been awarded his claim for ESA after a long battle to receive it. He had been helped by his social worker and other support workers. He openly told me that he had been diagnosed with a personality disorder after a long period of diagnosis and during that time, because he wasn’t receiving any treatment he had fallen off the rails and had got into bother.

He explained to me that he was trying to get his life in order and was doing his best. He said he just wants to be able to get stable on his medication and start the long journey of getting his life back.

Unfortunately he had been placed in the work related activity group of ESA. Which does mean that he still has to comply with some job search related activities. One of these involves attending the Jobcentre for interviews and a request that he starts a course with the group invicta whom Ive spoken about before. He said that his advisor said that they will be able to help with his illness. The first appointment is voluntary but the following aren’t. This isn’t good because he isn’t stable enough to commit to anything at the moment. He wont be taking them up on their offer of attention this course for more than the first voluntary attendance. His priority is meeting up with the proffesional agencies that he is involved with. One of these being probation.

Unfortunately he has been given a curfew, and it includes the ruling that he doesn’t go anywhere in the town centre. Simple enough to understand, but the Jobcentre advisor just doesn’t seem to understand this. He was forced to attend a Jobcentre appointment last week, the police spotted him on the towns cctv camera and they pulled him up. Infact they were waiting outside the police station for him.

This week he was forced to do the same thing. He explained to the Jobcentre that he has a curfew, and they told him that its tough. Either he attends his interview, or he doesn’t and he gets sanctioned.

This has plainly put him in an impossible situation. He can’t afford to receive a sanction, no one can and his illness would get far worse. So he had to break the law because of an advisors ruling. What hope is there for him?

He is getting further advice on this and after his appointment he ran off to attend an appointment to try and sort this out. I of course advised him.

But the DWP openly telling this young man to break the law is plainly law. The DWP aren’t above the law, even though they think that they are and I really hope that he takes legal action against them and the advisor. They should not be giving advice like this. But of course in their eyes the Jobcentre comes first.

As I arrived at the Jobcentre with my trusty shopping trolley I was called a scumbag by a passer by. I’m used to awful comments like this and one day I will be able to buy a video camera to show folk what it can be like at times.

We were stopped by a lovely lady who’s brother had been failed his ESA decision. He’s a type 1 diabetic and he’s had no money for weeks. She travels all the way from Wales to help him, to make sure he has some electric on his metre and to give him food. He has an ulcer on his leg and as well as the diabetes he has many other diabetic related illnesses. I’m very sure that he would be dead by now if it wasn’t for her care. We advised her and she had made appointments with Citizens Advice to further that help.

Lots of comrades and supporters arttended our demo today. A comrade counted 25 at one point. The amazing film I, Daniel Blake has certainly played a massive part in this. Thank you so much Ken, Paul and team.

Two of my friends from the anti fracking movement the Nanas surprised me with a visit. They had travelled miles and I started to cry. Tears of happiness they are amazing women.

It was freezing today and Ive been very busy campaigning because as I said there’s alot more to this campaign than just turning up for a two hour demo every Thursday. My daughter told me this morning that obviously she comes first and then the Jobcentre. Sad but true. It’s not easy being a single parent on a very restricted income.

Please donate if you are able to, if not please share my blog etc.
Some good news though! One of the men in our video has now got a flat of his own to live in. I said last week that he had received his first ESA payment and now he has his flat. Its amazing news he was very proud to be able to tell us that he was able to cook his first meal and sleep in his own bed. I have spent time in a women’s refuge on several occasions in the past so I can totally relate to this. The feeling is amazing. I’m so happy for him I just wish that everyone had somewhere to call home for themselves. It’s not alot to ask is it.
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https://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2016/oct/21/meet-the-real-daniel-blakes-ken-loach-video

Bad news though, the new benefit cap comes into play this week and its going to hurt alot of people. I knew that this was happening but it doesn’t stop me from getting angry and upset.

Come and say hello! 

Tomorrow will be our weekly demonstration day please come and say hello!!

We have been protesting every Thursday for nearly 15 months now and we have never had a week off. Whatever the weather decides to be like we never miss a week. 

We do this to offer compassion and support to the claimants that have to use Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. We hand out informative leaflets, warm drinks and hats, gloves and scarfs to those needing the warmth. 

Sanctions are unfair and unjust. After being sanctioned people go hungry, become ill, and some can’t see no way out so they commit suicide. 

We are a committee bunch of people and the demos are A political which means that anyone is welcome to join us providing that they come in peace. 

Please come and say hello. We would love that. 

You can find us outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old street Ashton Under Lyne.  1-3pm. 

Just bring yourself that’s enough!!