A mission to get a massage!

GMWRAG is disappointed to report that once again we’re asking you for money rather than advertising jobs in the advice sector but we’ll live with it as this is once again for a good cause. We’ve even had to now (reluctantly) create a “Fundraising” category for web site posts. This has made us “sad”. That’s GMWRAG sad not Donald Trump sad.

You may recall that GMWRAG member Rob Jenkins raised money for The Wellspring in Stockport whilst Kate Anstee, Sean Finnegan and Yasmin Green raised money for Greater Manchester Law Centre. GMWRAG noted very carefully the bump up in sponsorship some of the above had after our posts. but all attempts to cream some money off the top for GMWRAG funds have thus far failed.

George Oldbury is now attempting to raise money for Wood Street Mission. Unlike the above named, George has set his sights low and is looking to raise a mere £100 through the folly of cycling from Manchester to Blackpool. Surely GMWRAG can help him do better than that?

For those of you who don’t know much (or anything) about Wood Street Mission please do have a read of the above link as they’ve been around a long time; do hugely useful work and will need to continue doing so (see our Universal Credit post/rant from yesterday).

If you’d like to sponsor George you can do so via his hugely disappointing JustGiving page. No pictures. No humour. He’s no Rob Jenkins is he 🙂 but he does need your money.

So, we’ll do the hard work for him and tell you all about cycling from Manchester to Blackpool. It doesn’t appear to involve much cycling. It starts from the Piazza in Salford Quays and covers (a mere) 60 miles to Blackpool with what’s described as “lots of refreshment stops along the scenic country lanes of Lancashire and finishes on the South Promenade in Blackpool.” That scenic stuff seems wrong to us as the route map we’ve seen suggests it goes through Leigh!

The mere act of finishing appears to entitle you to “food, beer tent, live music and a well-earned massage!” A what??? Pfft. Sounds a pamper session to us. There’s even special buses back to Manchester in the afternoon.

So, if you’d like to sponsor George to get a massage raise hugely needed funds then you know what to do.

Robot foodbanks – coming to Manchester soon!

GMWRAG was fascinated to come across “Action Hunger” via a colleague posting on Rightsnet. It’s worth quoting verbatim from their mission statement.

“Action Hunger is committed to alleviating poverty and hardship amongst the homeless. We install vending machines that provide free food and clothing in key locations of cities across the United Kingdom — and beyond.

The machines dispense water, fresh fruit, energy bars, crisps, chocolate, and sandwiches, as well as socks, sanitary towels, antibacterial lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste combination packs, and books. A considerable amount of the food we vend is received from redistribution organisations that seek to reduce food waste.

Use of the machines is exclusively permitted to those in need, and items can only be vended with the use of a special key card, which our partner organisations in each locality give to our users.

At the most elementary level, Action Hunger’s machines provide access for the most vulnerable in our society to satiate the most basic of needs — that of sustenance.”

They also say

“We’re growing across the U.K. and wider Europe. If you know of a suitable location for installation of a machine — particularly in London, Birmingham, or Brighton — please send us an email at hello@actionhunger.org. Prospective sites must be accessible 24/7 and ideally well-lit, safe, and sheltered from inclement weather.

We’re also planning for two installations in New York, USA in February 2018, with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle to follow. If you’re interested in supplying food or other items, or would like to help in another regard, please get in touch.”

A report on their Nottingham location makes for an interesting read.

GMWRAG notes that they are “Installing soon…” in Manchester and have an impressive list of supporters. We will contact them directly but wonder if any GMWRAG members know anything more about this interesting idea, albeit that we can’t help thinking that if you know of a location that is “… accessible 24/7… well-lit, safe… and sheltered from inclement weather” then you’ve probably just identified a location for homeless accommodation rather than a vending machine!

Nevertheless we shall watch this develop with genuine interest and feedback anything we learn.

Correction to Manchester TUG details – GMWRAG apologises for actually being administratively worse than the Tribunals Service.

Our recent post re: the Manchester TUG was incorrect.

The Manchester and Stockport TUG will take place on Monday the 27th of March 2017 (not February) at Manchester Crown Court Building, Ground Floor, Crown Square off Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3FL. It will start at 10am and no doubt finish on the dot at 12:00pm.

As per our Blackburn TUG post you need to let the Tribunals Service know if you’re attending.

If you haven’t been notified of the meeting by post then you will need to contact Sandy Barnes, Clerk to the Tribunal on 0151 243 1451. Questions will need to be submitted in advance and the clerk is also the route for that as far as we can ascertain. TS are also asking for details of your organisation, work phone number and work email address. GMWRAG refuses to be anything other than highly amused at the latter given ongoing issues persuading them that appeals can be lodged by email.

We’ll see you there or, alternatively, in the Spinning Fields Costa Coffee beforehand 🙂


Manchester TUG sort of announced.

GMWRAG refuses to accept we will ever come up with a better post title than Blackburn Tug(ay). However, with grateful thanks to our friends at Stockport Advice (at least that’s what we thought they were called) we are pleased to announce that the details for the Manchester Tribunal Users Group are now available.

The Manchester TUG will take place on Monday the 27th of February 2017 at Manchester Crown Court. It will start at 10am and no doubt finish on the dot at 12:00pm. If the Tribunals Service ever let us know more details then we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, as per our Blackburn TUG post you need to let the Tribunals Service know if you’re attended. If you haven’t been notified of the meeting by post then you will need to contact Sandy Barnes, Clerk to the Tribunal on 0151 243 1451. Questions will need to be submitted in advance and the clerk is also the route for that as far as we can ascertain.

Blackburn Tug(ay).

We think that’s the most sophisticated football pun we’ve ever used in a GMWRAG post title but what do we know.

Anyways… GMWRAG has been advised that the next Tribunal User Group (TUG) meeting for the Blackburn area is listed to take place on Monday the 6th of March 2017 at 10:00am.

For the purposes of clarity this TUG will cover issues for the Blackburn, Bury, Rochdale, Bolton and Burnley venues.

The meeting will take place on the second floor of Soho Foundry, Cicely Lane, Blackburn BB1 1HQ. Perhaps someone from Blackburn could explain to GMWRAG why the Tribunals Service have missed out the first line of the above address from their communications? For those of you wondering it’s  “DWP – NORTH WEST GOR 03”.

A Google of the post code should show you where you’re going. It’s easy enough and it looks remarkably like a factory/workhouse.

You need to let the Tribunals Service know if you’re attended. If you haven’t been notified of the meeting by post then you will need to contact Sandy Barnes, Clerk to the Tribunal on 0151 243 1451. Questions will need to be submitted in advance and the clerk is also the route for that as far as we can ascertain.

Finally, please note that GMWRAG is aware that this must mean other TUGs are being listed. We haven’t had our invites so, if you have, especially for the Manchester TUG, please let us know asap.

URGENT NOTICE – this weeks North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group meeting has been cancelled. We’re exhausted just typing that sentence.

GMWRAG has been advised that this weeks NWMHWRAG meeting has been cancelled as it became clear a significant number of attendees were unable to attend. GMWRAG feels your pain, although we have guessed most of you are on some kind of holiday and possibly couldn’t care less. The next meeting will take place on Friday the 30th of September 2016 as planned. Further details will be posted nearer the time.

We just wanted to write “MH mtg. cancelled cos loads of apols.” The combination of Summer heat; post holiday fatigue and endlessly having to write GMWRAG or NWMHWRAG is making us want to invent new names for these things!

At least we don’t have to write that thing about you all going through the wrong door to the Fire Station for a little while (yes yes, we’re sure it was an accident and nothing to do with firemen being there!!!)!

CPAG Welfare Rights Conferences 2016 – Universal Credit: Next Steps.

CPAGs 2016 Welfare Rights Conference focuses on the challenges facing families as the roll out of Universal Credit accelerates.

The next few years will bear witness to a huge change in the welfare rights environment, with the full Universal Credit service set to be rolled out to over one hundred local authority areas during 2016-17, and across all 381 local authorities by June 2018.

Increasingly, families and the advisers working with families will need to understand how Universal Credit is supposed to work, who wins and who loses, and the lessons to learn from the early implementation of the new system.

With expert speakers, a range of focused workshops and the opportunity to network and share ideas with welfare rights workers, policy workers and other advisers from across the country, the conference is not to be missed. With both conferences expected to sell out, please book early to avoid disappointment.

For more details on the planned workshops and programme, together with instructions on how to book your place, please see below.


09.15 – 10.00   Arrival, registration, coffee and exhibition stand viewing

10:00 – 11.15    Host welcome and keynote speakers (tbc)

11.15 – 11.30    Refreshment break and viewing of exhibition stands

11.30 – 12.45   Workshops – morning session

12.45 – 13.30   Lunch and viewing of exhibition stands

13.30 – 14.45   Workshops – afternoon session

14.45 – 15.00   Refreshment break and viewing of exhibition stands

15.00 – 16.00   Panel discussion and Q&A


You can attend two workshops from the list below.

Universal Credit Housing Costs
David Simmons, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG

Universal Credit Digital Roll-Out
Simon Osborne, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG

ESA ‘Substantial Risk’
Dan Norris and Nizam Ahmed, Welfare Rights Workers at CPAG

Human Rights Challenges
Sophie Earnshaw, CPAG Trainee Solicitor and Martin Williams, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG


Our Manchester venue is the University of Manchester Innovation Centre, Core Technology Facility, 46 Grafton Street, Manchester, M13 9NT.

Our London venue is Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA.

Exhibition Space

We will have an exhibition space at both conferences hosting exhibitors showcasing their work, products and services. If you are interested in exhibiting at our conference, please email Sebastien at sclark@cpag.org.uk.

Booking a place

Delegate tickets, which include a choice of four expert workshops, teas, coffees, buffet lunch and conference materials, are

  • £130 for a voluntary organisation and
  • £175 for statutory and lawyers.

The Early Bird booking price – valid before the 11th of July 2016 – is

  • £115 for a voluntary organisation and
  • £150 for statutory and lawyers.

To book place(s) please complete our online booking form here.

Please note that bookings cannot be processed until you have selected your workshops, and workshops will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

  • North (Manchester) Thursday the 8th of September 2016.
  • South (London) Friday the 16th of September 2016.


The first post European era minutes of the GMWRAG Manchester meeting are now available plus lots of supporting documentations from the speakers and, yes, we are aiming for the longest title ever…

We’ve now had a taste of the future, what with needing to take passports to get into Manchester town hall for our last meeting! The first post European GMWRAG minutes are now available for download from our minutes page. Grab them now before they get turned back at the borders. On the plus side, sanctions will presumably need to be re-named as we start to lose French words from our language! The “Universal” in Universal Credit is in trouble too although possibly in more ways than we can cover here 🙂

In addition the supporting documents below have all been added to our presentations and notes pages.

Details of the next GMWRAG meeting in Trafford in September will be posted as soon as we have them.

New job vacancy on GMWRAG.

Welfare Reform Support Officer
Salary £17,891 – £25,694 (NJC Points 18-29) Closing Date 27-Jun-16
Hours 35 hours per week Interview Date 04-Jul-16
Annual Leave 25 days + 4 Additional Days Location Manchester

We are currently recruiting for: Welfare Reform Support Officer.

Lifeline Project is a national charity dedicated to improving the lives of individuals, families and communities affected by drugs and alcohol. We work with individuals, families and communities both to prevent and reduce harm, to promote recovery and challenge inequalities linked to drug and alcohol misuse.

For an informal discussion in confidence about this post please email david.bligh@lifeline.org.uk to arrange a convenient time/date.

The closing date for completed application forms is midday on the 27th of June 2016.

Interviews will take place week commencing the 4th of July 2016.

All posts are subject to DBS Disclosures, and receipt of satisfactory references.

Lifeline welcomes applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability or age. Applicants are considered on the basis of their merits and abilities for the job.

Details of the post can be found on our permanent jobs page.