First presentation available from the January 2018 GMWRAG meeting in Salford.

There are a lot of materials to upload from the recent GMWRAG meeting in Salford so apologies in advance for doing this in a slightly piecemeal manner. All presentations at meetings are permanently located within Our Meetings sub pages if you can’t find posts like this which initially announce their availability.

Our a.m. speaker in Salford was Catherine Connors, Commissioning Manager from the People’s Directorate in Salford City Council. Her presentation on “The development and delivery of the Tackling Poverty strategy in Salford – the role of specialist advice providers.” is now available for download.

Summary notes from the presentation will be available as part of the minutes

Anyone wishing to view the strategy itself, titled “NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: A joint strategy from the Salford City Mayor and Salford Youth Mayor can view/download it from here.

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A riddle wrapped up in an enigma – yes, the GMWRAG accounts are available.

Those of you who have been nagging for weeks and then sending your apologies asking politely about the agenda, minutes and other details of the forthcoming GMWRAG meeting this coming Friday will have hopefully noticed that the GMWRAG accounts have a brief slot in the afternoon ahead of our speaker.

Please note that the latest accounts have been uploaded and are available for viewing. We’re sure GMWRAG members are (largely) bright enough to figure out where we hide them on the site and that they are password protected should you wish to print off your own copy before Friday. A small number of paper copies for the elite will be available for perusal on the day but we’d much rather you brought your own.

If you can’t figure it out then the accounts are available from here.

GMWRAG did imply we would post separately about food in Swinton if you’re staying for the day. We were amused to learn that if we used TripAdvisor to give you a list of nice places to go in Swinton it largely sends you to Eccles or Manchester! Most local and nearby pubs no longer serve food. However, we’re going to suggest GMWRAG members have one of four realistic choices. The excellent but small Stupots on Partington Lane (a mere 7 minutes walk from the Civic Centre where we’ll be meeting) or the Asda and Morrisons cafes or dining al fresco at Greggs! Either that or bring your own. The committee room will be available throughout the lunch period.

Agenda for the forthcoming GMWRAG meeting in Salford.

The next full day GMWRAG meeting takes place in Salford on Friday the 19th of January 2018. Full details of the meeting and options for travel have already been posted. We may even post options for food at lunch time in the next week if you’re planning on coming for the day.

Minutes of the last meeting can be downloaded from our minutes page and the full agenda is now available for download.

We have a packed agenda including two excellent speakers:

We look forward to seeing you there.

A quick reminder about the first GMWRAG meeting of 2018 in Salford.

We confirmed back in October 2017 that the next GMWRAG meeting would take place in Salford on Friday the 19th of January 2018. The meeting will take place in committee room 3 of the old town hall in Swinton (M27 5FJ). It will be a full day meeting. Minutes of the last meeting in Oldham have long since been posted in the usual place and we ask members to print off and bring your own copies. The agenda is almost finalised and will be published imminently. We were hoping to have two speakers but both have had to drop out due to circumstances beyond their control. We have secured one excellent replacement but we’re still working on getting a second speaker so we’ll publish as soon as we know we have that sorted one way or another.

Many of you will have been to Swinton before and recognise there are considerable difficulties in securing parking, especially if needed for the day. For this reason GMWRAG urges attendees to either car share or use public transport. There is public transport information available at https://www.salford.gov.uk/council-buildings-and-venues/how-to-find-us but we have alerted Salford to the fact much of this out of date. Some options have improved (electric car charging) and some have not (parking generally).

Salford is well served by public transport with a train station less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre and buses coming past the civic centre on Chorley Road and Partington Lane on a regular basis. Guided busway and other buses also go down the East Lancs. Road and drop off less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre. You could even Park and Ride from Wardley a couple of stops on a V1 or V2 bus to Worsley Road in Swinton.

To the best of our knowledge there are no train or bus strikes on the day of the meeting but please keep checking https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/strike and https://www.tfgm.com in case anything changes. Also be aware that the roads remain exceptionally busy at this time of year and Swinton is a particular blockage for road travel. Please allow extra time for travel so that we can start the meeting on time.

Anyway, the agenda should be out at the start of next week at the very latest and we look forward to seeing you in sunny Salford.

First GMWRAG meeting of 2018.

We confirmed back in October 2017 that the next GMWRAG meeting would take place in Salford and we anticipated this would take place on Friday the 19th of January 2018. We can now confirm this as a definite date. The meeting will take place in committee room 3 of the old town hall in Swinton (M27 5 FJ). It will be a full day meeting and we are just waiting for two of three potential speakers to confirm. Minutes of the last meeting are awaited from Oldham and we’ll distribute those and a full agenda as soon as they’re finalised.

Many of you will have been to Swinton before and recognise there are considerable difficulties in securing parking, especially if needed for the day. For this reason GMWRAG urges attendees to either car share or use public transport. There is public transport information available at https://www.salford.gov.uk/council-buildings-and-venues/how-to-find-us but we have alerted Salford to the fact much of this out of date. Some options have improved (electric car charging) and some have not (parking generally).

We can tell you at this stage that Salford is well served by public transport with a train station less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre and buses coming past the civic centre on Chorley Road and Partington Lane on a regular basis. Guided busway and other buses also go down the East Lancs. Road and drop off less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre.

We’ll post more about your transport options when we post up the full meeting details with agenda, speakers and minutes of the last meeting.

Radical Readings

Radical Readings in  progressGMWRAG has generally been good over the past year publicising theatrical and cinematic events related to rights based advice work. We know many of you took the opportunity to attend events like Powerlines and Wish List. Indeed GMWRAG followers who have been paying attention will be aware that Cardboard Citizen’s “Cathy” is imminent. Welfare reform can at least take credit for some powerful art if nothing else especially positive.

Unfortunately, GMWRAG managed to attend one such event and forgot to tell members about it. We’re going to tell you about it now and hope that you’ll anticipate and book a place on the next one in 2017. The event in question was the second ever “Radical Readings” and it took place at the University of Salford as a fundraiser for the Working Class Movement Library in Salford on Sunday the 27th of November 2016.

Christopher Eccleston, Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Mike Joyce and Maxine Peake, who are all strong supporters of the Library, participated in an afternoon of prose, poetry and drama telling stories of radicalism and revolution.

Following on from 2014’s fantastically successful fundraiser for the Library  the audience were treated to old favourites, Ewan MacColl, Robert Roberts, Shelagh Delaney, Harold Brighouse and many more, as well as readings on such diverse subjects as Peterloo, the Spanish Civil War, Engels’s view of the Salford slums, and memories of Broad Street and Rat Week…

Maxine Peake, who is also a Trustee of the Library, said; ‘It is always a pleasure and an honour to take part in the Radical Reading and support the wonderful and invaluable resource that is the Working Class Movement Library. A building we should all be proud of’.

There is a comprehensive report of the event on the Salford Star web site. It’s hoped that the next event will include music as well as readings, prose and poetry.

If you would like to know more about the WCML please check out their web site or email them at trustees@wcml.org.uk. Indeed, if you’re really interested then this Saturday, the 3rd of December 2016, they are running a free event called Looking Back at the Grunwick Strike 1976-1978. Click on the lick for more information.

GMWRAG promises to try to stay more abreast of such things in 2017.  Why are we posting such stuff? How is it relevant to welfare rights advisers? Take you pick.

“Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.” – Clive Barker, Days of Magic, Nights of War.

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” – Pablo Picasso.

Powerlines: New Stories From The Urban Edge at the Manchester Literature Festival.

This years Manchester Literature Festival, features an event on the 20th of October 2016 which will be of interest to all GMWRAG members, If you can’t go, maybe send details to your local DWP, local councillors or your MP!.

The project began following a discussion with ex Manchester Advice worker, David Gaffney, about the lack of real, genuine voices around the subject of welfare ‘reform’ and benefits in general. In particular annoyance (to put it mildly) about the DWP inventing stories to justify sanctions.

The idea was discussed of using the Manchester Literature Festival, to create a platform  for the ‘real’ stories (from those on the sharp end of the benefit system) to get a hearing. A bit unusual for a literature festival but worth giving it a go. The festival were keen and so Church Action on Poverty were approached to become a partner (based on their previous work in this area and direct experience of working with them around financial inclusion). A successful bid was made to the Arts Council for funding, participants recruited, workshops ran and now material gathered. Other partners include The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and Salford City Councils Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service.

The evening will be a mixture of pieces (poetry, prose, visual, audio), the vast majority of which will come directly from the participants themselves.

Five artists have worked with people in Salford to explore the lives unfolding far beyond the aspirational city of artisan coffee shops and slick new builds.

Join poet Jo Bell, graphic novelist Darryl Cunningham, sound artist Gary Fisher, short story writer David Gaffney and novelist Stephen May as they place these stories centre stage.

These stories will make you cry, laugh and shout with rage at inequalities perpetuated by a social security system that is no longer social or secure.

Steve Quinn from Salford Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service was asked by David to write a short piece in the first person, from an advisers perspective, which we may use in the run up to the festival. It may or may not chime with your experience, but hopefully it contains something that you can recognise. Powerlines will shed light on some of the too-little considered realities of life in the Northern Powerhouse.

You can find out details and even hear a sound trailer here.

Please download and circulate the flyer for the event.

Tickets are free but the performance space has a 100 person capacity. We expect more people to take tickets than attend and so if people can’t get tickets online we would still encourage them to attend.

Tickets can be obtained here.

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.

DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford – One Year On.

In 2014 a Task Force comprised of Salfords Financial Inclusion Practitioners Group in Salford was invited by the Chair of the Skills and Work Board to produce a report into the impact of DWP conditionality and benefit sanctions in Salford. An interim report was produced in August 2014; endorsed by the Skills and Work Board and publicly launched in October 2014.

The conclusions of that report will surprise no-one. The threat and use of sanctions help no-one to move into work but do cause damage to the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants and can lead to hunger, debt and destitution. Furthermore, public and voluntary sector organisations were increasingly having to step in to support claimants in crisis due to sanctions but also benefit delays. This added to the strain on resources when faced with local government budget cuts.

It was recognised that the impacts of welfare reform were only just emerging so it was agreed an additional report would be produced after a period of at least 12 months had elapsed and particularly following the introduction of Universal Credit. That report can now be viewed here. Again, the conclusions should surprise no-one.

It was launched in Salford on Monday the 23rd of May 2016 at an event which included keynote speakers

JobcentrePlus were also in attendance.

We thought GMWRAG members would have an interest in all aspects of this subject.