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Friday, 3 October 2014

Protecting the vulnerable — listen to people who know by firsthand experience

By Swheatie of the KUWG

Induced by debt related to a JSA sanction and then eviction, Nygell Firminger's eviction was followed by his suicide in the same week that the Welfare Reform Act of 2012 was passed. Our campaigning and casework for the living continue.

There is a line in the play 'The Trojan Women' as adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre from the original by Ancient Greek playwright Euripides: "Those who give the order seldom see the mess it makes."

Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty in the piece linked below, cites how bad UK poverty was as far back as 2001 for vulnerable people. Yet — established in 2010 — the KUWG has its own, more local stories.

Nygell Firminger of the South Kilburn Estate committed suicide in April 2012 after being evicted by his so-called 'social landlord' Genesis on account of rent arrears. That was after he had fallen into the clutches of loan sharks and thus into rent arrears after Kilburn Jobcentre had sanctioned him for a period of time and he had fallen into rent arrears over which he had attempted to negotiate reparations — accumulating volumes of correspondence.

Tragically, by the time he was sanctioned even, he had left the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group in the expectation that the job he had been offered or given would 'see him through'. When we eventually heard of what had transpired since his departure from the group, we — meaning mostly people who had never met him — determined to seek 'justice for Nygell' who was 'all too human'. So we gathered evidence from the people closest to him who we met at his funeral.

To cut a long story short:

  1. In May 2013, Haringey Solidarity Group reported further heartlessness by Genesis Housing Association toward tenants who could be made vulnerable to rent arrears by "significant changes ... to the Welfare Benefit system." — Genesis Housing Association to evict benefit cap families
  2. The North London Coroner eventually ruled on 10 July 2013 that Nygell's death had been the result of "suicide due to the threat of eviction," severely criticised Genesis Housing over their handling of Nygell's case and issued a 'Rule 43' notice saying that landlords should implement measures to protect tenants in such circumstances who have mental health problems. (It was clear from his friends' testimonies that he should have received Employment & Support Allowance as a person with mental health problems, rather than a sanction from the jobcentre and an eviction from a 'social landlord'.)
  3. In December 2013, Genesis Housing reportedly sold the flat that Nygell had committed suicide in after he'd been evicted from it, for £375,000.
  4. Building expertise from within, and with currently no paid staff, the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group acquires collective expertise to help people get the state benefits they require.
I wonder how many coroner's reports on the deaths of vulnerable people those politicians who say that they will protect vunerable people have read in their research toward the welfare reforms that they are now implementing? (Note that the first case presented in the piece linked below is from as far back as 2001, and Revd Paul Nicolson launched a petition for UK Government to consider the implications to the UK in the 21st Century of Revd Dr Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech that was made on the 28 August 1963 centenary of the Gettysberg Address 'emancipation proclamation'. Martin Luther King petition.)
How many coroners reports have those who say they will protect the vulnerable read in their research?

Continue reading on the website of Taxpayers Against Poverty....

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