The poor side of life

I made my way to our weekly demo after dropping my daughter off at school. I like to have a cheap cuppa beforehand and people know that they can find me there.

I was excited at the prospect of good weather, yesterday had been roasting hot. Today was sadly different. It didn’t rain though, although the breeze was cold. I sometimes think that we are destined to have bad weather.

Roy had met me at the café and we walked over together. As we arrived we noticed the queue for food parcels, but it isn’t your typical queue. Many people needing help often feel embarrassed, so they don’t line up. Instead they wait around in various areas near the Jobcentre. Some are also scared that their Jobcentre advisor will see them.

The food parcels arrived, delivered by Gordon and the queue moved towards the car. To say that it’s awful…

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The poor side of life

I arrived at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre as usual, and placed my bag in its usual place. I use it to carry our leaflets and anything else that might be required for the morning. I looked up and I must have been spotted from afar, because our usual recipients of the food parcels were waiting.

We spent a few minutes chatting, catching up with things and seeing if anything has progressed. Like last week, nothing much has, but they have taken our advice so  now it’s a waiting game.

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere outside the Jobcentre, but anyone who has joined us will tell you its hard work. Today we were battling with wind and heavy rain at one point. I’m not complaining but I’m highlighting this because many of the people that we speak to really can’t dress appropriately for the weather, nor can they afford to. The weather also affects…

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It could be you

To fully understand what I write about and why, it is useful to understand where I have come from. What path has brought me here.

“Here” is a man in his mid-forties who suffers from recurring mental health issues in the form of deep and debilitating depression. I have suffered this in various, but ever worsening forms since my teens. The recurring bouts can be triggered by various things, but primarily these have been stress, especially prolonged periods of stress.

I have found that I cannot make sense of the world around me, I don’t understand why people are the way they are and do the things that they do. I fear almost everybody I don’t know and suspect the worst of everybody. Ah, some may be thinking, he’s paranoid. If only it were that simple.

Add to this that I have a deep self-loathing, no self-confidence and little self-esteem…

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The poor side of life

Today’s demo felt a bit strange. It’s the Manchester Mayoral elections today and everyone is so busy campaigning for that. Also it’s one of those weeks where members are called away. It’s important that they deal with their personal issues. As a result numbers were expected to be low.

I arrived and the lady delivering the food parcels was waiting for me. I walked over with her to collect them. As I did I noticed a gang of people gathered across the road waiting for food parcels. We make no judgement, but we do make sure that they are accessing the local help available to them. They can get a tad aggressive so I’m so glad that I wasn’t on my own. It was a clear reminder that Jobcentre demos shouldn’t be done alone. We gave them all the help that we could and a sympathetic ear.

The three regular…

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The poor side of life

As I arrived on this cold Thursday morning I was greeted immediately by a group of people that had been gathering across the road waiting for the food parcels to arrive. They were slightly anxious, and this is why its important for myself not to be on my own.

As the food parcels arrived they took them straight away. I don’t judge anyone because their need was obvious. As they collected their food parcels other people who depend on our food parcels arrived to collect theirs. We work on a first come first serve basis, its the way that it has to be.

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Because it was cold and miserable the mood sort of reflected that. People using the Jobcentre almost running in and out, most likely afraid of being late, afraid of being sanctioned.

The mood of apathy filled the air though. Most people forced to use the Jobcentre are…

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The poor side of life

This morning I am guilty of having a slight meltdown myself on my twitter feed. I checked my bank account and it said zero balance. Not good, but I could manage and I’m not asking for sympathy. But it was a shock and I woke with a start at 4am.

Today can only get better I said to myself and it did.

Anyway I digress. On Tuesday I met a lovely lady whom we had been helping at the demo.

She was in the process of sorting her claim out, and had been relying on food parcels and various places where she could get a free hot meal. She had access to local facilities but holds a great deal of trust with us. People go to whom they trust sometimes.

She had ran out of food, and because she’s particularly vulnerable I arranged to buy her some basic essentials to…

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