CHARLOTTE HUGHES has been blown away by the support for her campaign against jobseeker sanctions
I HAVE been holding protests once a week outside my local jobcentre in Ashton-under-Lyne against the DWP’s treatment of jobseekers.
Last Thursday was a wet and dreary day — and it was also our second anniversary demonstration.
I’m sorry to say that we have had to hold these demonstrations for two years.
It’s a very sad indictment of today’s society and the way this government treats the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
As usual I had no expectations about how many people might join us. I try not to put pressure on people because they are already under a lot of pressure anyway trying to keep going.
But I was overwhelmed. I asked for a headcount and 37 people had arrived from organisations all over north-west England.
We had members of Disabled People Against Cuts, Old Swan Against the Cuts, the Mary Quaile Club, Stockport Against Austerity, Unite Community north west branch, of which I am a member, members of the Lancashire Anti-Fracking Nanas and individuals who read my blog, my newspaper reports, my Facebook and my Twitter accounts.
The atmosphere was fantastic. We had several speakers, who drew quite a crowd across the road. Very disappointingly a man walking past felt that he had to shout at us all, saying that we should all get jobs.
Of course we responded in a very peaceful way, and a local police community support officer escorted him out of the way.
Sadly people still believe the media rhetoric which is played constantly on our televisions and newspapers.
Interestingly, for the first time in two years we had a local newspaper reporter arrive and he proceeded to interview myself and Rick Burgess from DPAC.
We have waited for two years for the local press to take notice. Despite many emails and telephone calls they had been very reluctant to attend, but we are happy that they have now.
We handed out nine food parcels in less than two hours, which is a very sad reflection of the DWP’s awful regime.
Claimants were surprised to be offered them, and were thankful. Lots of other food was handed out as well which was very gratefully appreciated.
I’d like to think that we won’t need to be campaigning for another two years, but sadly I feel that we will.
Universal credit has just been rolled out to a nearby jobcentre, despite Theresa May’s announcement that there will be no further rollouts.
We will continue to support the victims of the inhumane sanctioning system, the victims of failed employment and support allowance and work capability assessments, the victims of the workfare programme, the victims of the work programme and for everyone that may need us.
And as Rick Burgess from DPAC said: “We have you in our sights and we will be back.”
Please donate if you can to enable myself and the team to carry on our valuable campaigning. It’s not just about standing outside a jobcentre. A whole lot more goes into it. A massive thank you to everyone who has helped us during the two years.