Just to recap – I’ve decided to go on hunger strike in protest against the continued roll out of Universal Credit in the UK.
Conversations are beginning to happen…
The vast majority of folk who’ve been in touch with me over the past few days have been concerned, but very supportive
A number of people are going through the shitstorm that is the Universal Credit application process have been contacted me, and they’ve been 100% supportive about what I’m doing.
There are others though, who are less sure…
This message on Twitter, I think, encapsulates what a number of folk think.
‘Agree with everything said about UC but cant support anyone choosing to starve & weaken themselves when there are people who have no choice When there are people actually starving because of UC it seems crass & indulgent to starve yourself as a gimmick however good the intention’
What do YOU think?
A couple of thoughts came to me in response to this…
Bad things happen when good people do nothing.
I thought I could stand by and say, ‘Bloody Hell, this is terrible, isn’t it?’
Or, I could do SOMETHING! Granted, you may not think it’s the right thing, for me or the people going through this awful process.
And Pastor Niemöller’s great poem
‘First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.’
Bear in mind, this is a system deliberately set up to abuse people in this lovely country of ours. It is causing harm to hundreds of thousands of people – now – today.
These people aren’t ‘others’, they’re you and me.
This hunger strike isn’t about me – it’s about all of us standing together and saying, ‘This isn’t good enough!’
People, at their most vulnerable, are being kicked while they’re down – with a lack of services – no, or little immediate help for their mental health and/ or physical health problems – on top of that they’re slapped in the face with a,
‘Sorry, mate, you have to wait 42 days for any money.’
This isn’t a safety net. People are being punished for being poor.
I read today that 32.8% of folk who are unemployed, find work within 5 weeks.
That’s 32.8% of unemployed folk who receive NOTHING from the state in their time of need.
It’s time to move away from the endless anti-poor propaganda, from ‘Benefit Street’ to, ‘Can’t Pay? You shouldn’t have had it in the first place, you scrounging Bastard’
These people are US. They are you and me, and they are suffering today.
It’s great we’ve got food banks according to Jacob Rees Mogg, rather uplifting…but people have to be referred to them, and they can only receive support 3 times a year.
Benefit sanctions – stopping people’s benefits for anything from missing a meeting to making a mistake on a form…perceived or otherwise…for anything between 3 days and 3 years (!) are rife.
In the recent roll out of Universal Credit in Leeds, 25% of ALL APPLICANTS were sanctioned!
People with mental health problems are hugely over represented in this group – in 2015, nearly 30 thousand people with mental health problems had their benefits sanctioned.
Last year, according to a recent report by Mind, 300 thousand people lost their jobs because of mental ill health.
That’s 300 thousand folk with mental health problems, in a climate where services have been cut to the bone, who have to wait for 42 days for any money.
You can change this. You can speak with your local councillor or your MP.
The government has just lost 2 debates on Universal Credit – I believe, with your help, we can tip the balance and get them to rethink the roll out – and while their at it, put an end to their Draconian system of sanctions.
Surely the limited amount people receive in benefits is sanction enough?
Regarding the Hunger Strike – I feel I’m on a bit of a tightrope – I want to tell worried friends this is going well, with little impact – at the same time acknowledging the lack of food is shite.
Apparently on day 3, I go into ketosis, where my body finally understands that nothing is coming in through my mouth and starts devouring itself.
But this isn’t about me – this campaign is meant as a vehicle to raise awareness.
I’d like to think I’m giving a voice to those thousands of folk who don’t have a voice – who are suffering the state sponsored shame for the crime of being unemployed – people who have to choose between eating or heating, feeding themselves or their children.
Make no mistake, this is poverty, and it’s increasing across the country.
Walk a Mile