On Facebook


Homeless - Trapped - Homeless again - This can't be right?

The following was posted on Facebook a few days ago by a young chap who I’ve not actually met but who I know ‘On-line’ I have amended the language and grammar slightly but other than that it is word-for-word.

Please read it and then read my personal views on this situation:-

“Every second of every day is a pure battle to stay alive. Fighting my own mind on a daily basis is getting to me but trying to fight everyday life seems to be more impossible. Regardless {of} how hard I've worked over the past couple of years turns out it really was a waste of time. From next week on { I } am gunna be back on the streets {and} this is a case of facing my worst fear. I cant do this shit again I promised myself I wouldn't sleep another night on the streets but hey doesn't matter how hard I try or what I do for other people fact of the matter is my life has been made impossible from day 1. Growing up was met with addiction my father a drinker { and } my ma a smack head so what { xxxxxx } chance did I have?? Ideally I woulda loved to be a paramedic lifelong dream but people like me aren't privileged enough to have an education so my childhood dream got further n further from reach. I lowered my expectations to wanting to be a social worker { and } again I was turned down a college place because I was { in } a hostel. my life has been in and out of supported housing with people trying to dictate my life and steer me away from my dreams and potential. well here well done cos now am beat n don't know where to turn. Again my future is in the hands of a  charity that are about to make me homeless again regardless to how hard I've tried to put my life back together. A hostel trying to charge me £760 a month for a room and charging for support costs when they don't actually support me in getting where I want my life to go. I want to work with people that are facing homelessness and mental health and help practically but I find the people that are working in this sector haven't got a { xxxxxx } clue. Not saying { I’m } better qualified by any means but I do know what the homeless and less fortunate need and I know how to help but being in my position I don't have the capitol to do anything about it. Am about to lose my home for about the 10th time because I went back to work. What kinda society gives you a room in a hostel for free when your not working but then rape the { xxxx } out of you as soon as you start working again the whole system is backwards n that's coming from an Irishman. £760 for a { xxxxxx } room and { xxxx }all support never ever trust a { Charity } that's all I'll say.”

Clearly a very angry and embittered man. For obvious reasons.

My thoughts:-

(1) The system of support for those who are most in need in our country is disjointed at best and in some locations designed to be repellent. If for whatever reason you find yourself homeless the local authorities will do whatever is in their powers to wash their hands of you. In our case they used the all encompassing phrase ‘Intentionally Homeless’ because we left a self employed position with accommodation where I had been threatened with physical violence and evicted, leaving Sue to fulfil a two person role alone with serious health issues. In the most honest terms Sue would have died if she had remained.

(2) Charities have to attempt to fill in the gaps. However their hands are tied. They don’t have endless fiscal resources and have an ever increasing number of people who desperately need their assistance. In our case it was The Salvation Army who had the ability to force the local authority to reverse their ‘Intentionally Homeless’ ruling. This triggered a ‘One time offer’ system. As it happened we love our little flat and will do everything possible to remain here for the rest of our lives. But other people in this situation are offered housing which is grossly unsuitable. One example was a single man and his young son who were forced to take a four bedroom house in a village which is ten miles from his place of work. The additional Council Tax cost and travel expense meant that this was possibly the beginning of another route to homelessness as it was inviable for him to feed them both and pay their household bills.

(3) Homeless hostels are run in a similar way to an open prison. The presumption is that their inmates are addicts, criminals and mentally inept. In our experience the hostel was unfit for human habitation due to failure to maintain the property. The staff offered no advice whatsoever towards finding suitable long term accommodation and actively prevented access to a list of available properties which they were provided with on a weekly basis. They offered no advice about the various local organisations who could have assisted us and as we were not brought up in this city we had no prior knowledge of these services. The overwhelming feel of homeless hostels is that you are the one in the wrong – you created your own demise. In addition they impose structures which most people in settle accommodation would not accept and which further dehumanise you. Weekly ‘Room Checks’, ‘No visitors including family’ etc. We were even told we were not allowed a fryer as we might cause a fire! Strangely Sue has worked in commercial kitchens for the greater part of her working life and not once has she incinerated her place of work…..

(4) Universal Credit is a death sentence to people who are trying to escape homelessness. The cost of hostel accommodation far outweighs the amount provided by Universal Credit. Which means that you effectively have to use money which should feed and clothe you to top up the rent and service charges. If you take a job your life is thrown into even greater disarray. All housing cost support is withdrawn immediately as soon as you declare you have worked a single day. In a hostel situation the conflicting systems make it almost impossible to retain a roof over your head. Universal Credit insist that you take any work possible and the hostel costs if you do so are crippling and leave you unable to feed yourself.

Whilst Eat Well as an entity doesn’t have any political stance. I do. I know which political party is to blame for this situation. But that, I guess, is for another day…..

I have personally contacted the author of this Facebook Post and provided contact details for people and services which I hope will assist him. We can’t provided a home, but we can provide information and support if he chooses to take it.


Greenwashing by the Supermarkets

Greenwashing is a phrase I’ve because increasingly aware of in the last month or so. I my mind it is a cynical consequence of the interaction of big business and ecological concerns. I visit various Supermarkets on occasions often to check our prices are competitive. I’ve seen quite a few examples of Greenwashing. This is just one. I’ll not name the Supermarket as that would be underhanded and counterproductive. But they are all in on the act.

Mixed Peppers are a relatively light weight product used frequently in our recipes. They are commercially grown throughout the country with YFS (Yorkshire Farm Salads) near Selby being the nearest grower to my knowledge. In the Supermarket in question a plastic packed selection of three mixed Pepper is £1 while an individual unpacked Pepper taken from the cardboard delivery try is £0.55. So you are paying £0.65 extra for the privileged of not having plastic packaging. I can see no logistics reason why it would be so much more costly for them to handle trays of Pepper without the packaging as opposed to trays which have been packaged. Indeed there must be a cost element in running them through the packing process. So why are they so much more expensive?

I gut instinct is that the additional cost is simply because there is a growing demand for unpackaged goods and the big supermarkets are just cashing in. In my experience the wholesale cost is about 10% higher for the packaged version, so in this case I don’t think I am unnecessarily creating conspiracy theories. I’m not a great fan of the Supermarkets but we all use them on occasions I guess. So perhaps a little consumer pressure may do the trick. I have heard of a lady who unpacks everything she can at the checkout and leaves the plastic for the cashier to deal with. Perhaps a little extreme, but it will certainly slow things down and make a very visible point. I’m not advocating such direct action but I’m pretty sure if public pressure is directed at the Supermarkets this underhanded practise will cease given time.




The Veg Box

We have sourced a local Wholesaler in York to help us provide low cost home delivered Veg Boxes.

Delivered by bicycle to prevent adding to our "Carbon Footprint" initially to the area within the A64 / A1237 Ring Road

The Veg Boxes comprise a selection of locally sourced vegetables suitable for individuals and families including staples such as - (Depending on the season):-

Super Box:- £10

Potatoes - Jackets and Washed whites - (Approx 1kg)
Carrots - (Approx 1kg)
Parsnips - (Approx 300g)
Cabbage - (1 Jumbo Head)
Cauliflower - (1 Jumbo Head)
Onions - (approx 1kg)
Swede / Turnips - (1 or 2 depending on size & season)

Buster Box:- £15

Potatoes - Jackets and Washed whites - (Approx 1kg)
Carrots - (Approx 1kg)
Parsnips - (Approx 300g)
Cabbage - (1 Jumbo Head)
Cauliflower - (1 Jumbo Head)
Onions - (approx 1kg)
Swede / Turnips - (1 or 2 depending on size & season)
Courgettes - (3 or 4 depending on size)
Leeks - (3 or 4 depending on size)
Tomatoes - (6)
Mixed Peppers-  (3 mixed)
Broccoli - (1 Jumbo Head)
Spring Onions- (1 Jumbo bunch)

By buying in bulk from a York based wholesalers we are able to obtain the discounts usually only available to the hospitality trade. This means that a Banana sized box of vegetables will be prices starting from £10 including free delivery to your door.

We don’t expect you to buy large quantities in one go, we would rather deliver to you regularly to prevent or at least reduce food wastage.

To order add your details below or call Sue & Tony on 07598 382309 – Deliveries available 6 days a week at a time to suit you. Cash on delivery.

“Universal credit is likely to be the main cause of the explosion in food bank use, the government has admitted, after years of denying the link.
Delays that meant people “had difficulty accessing their money early enough” could be to blame for claimants seeking emergency food aid, Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, told MPs.” - Full article here  
The truth is a bit more complex than they are actually admitting, but an attempt at honesty in Politics is a rare event and one which should celebrated.
There are three main failing in Universal Credit which we are aware of. (There are doubtlessly many more)
(1) Late initial Payments. Although we did have some money to survive the initial 5 week waiting period it was literally less than £100 when we initiated our claim. Yes they do offer you an Advance. But as with anything you borrow it needs to be repaid. Taking 10 monthly repayments from a sum which is impossible to live on in the first place is hardly assistance in the long run.
(2) The “Housing Element” The cost of housing is simply not reflected in the capped limits imposed on an area by area basis. We unfortunately spent six month's in a Homeless Hostel after two very damaging contracts cost us everything we had. It soon became clear that even in a Homeless Hostel we had to add £120 per month from the money which we were supposed to feed and cloth ourselves with, just in order to make up the rent and service charges and keep ahead. If you default when you are in a Hostel there really is nowhere else for you to go. This left us with the princely sum of £4 a day for two adults to live on.
(3) Couples are discriminated against. If you live together or did when you initially make a claim, your payment is some 42% lower than two individual single people making separate claims. The Conservative party once proclaimed themselves The Party of Family Values?
Clearly there will always be an element of society who want a free ride. But personally I can't imagine anybody making an unnecessary Universal Credit claim. Once you are “In the system” you are effectively trapped in poverty. If for example you can not afford to cloth yourself appropriately for an interview, you are clearly at a massive disadvantage. The threat of being “Sanctioned” hangs over your head constantly. But unlike “Job Centres” in the past they do not offer any assistance in finding work and a way out. 

Universal Credit & Employment Agencies!

I appreciate that the Job Centre Plus staff have a very difficult job to do. I also appreciate that they have internal rules and guidance to follow.
However if they have information and documents which might assist those looking for work I would have thought that it was their duty to share these with their clients. It would seem this is not the case. Here is an example:-
“Having had several appointments over the last few months and also having made it clear that I was happy to do anything in my power to find employment, I asked on the off-chance if they had a list of Employment Agencies in the York area. Strangely the agent reached into a desk tidy to her left and plucked a copy from a stack in the top shelf which contains names and contact details for 25 Agencies which are active in the area. Many of these are not easily located using Google as they have head offices in other locations.”
Not a great service from a failing system really is it?
If you are willing to work for an Employment Agency in the York area here is the list as a .PDF. (11.46Mb) You can also click on the picture above in you are using a mobile phone, because we like our services and articles to be accessible to all! It's possibly not the greatest quality but if you call in and ask they are more than willing to give you a copy.
But which should you have to ask in the first place?

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