An open letter to Dun Laoghaire Intreo/Welfare

Subject: An open letter to Dun Laoghaire Intreo/Welfare
From: AH
Date: 27 May 2023


Dear recipients,

This is an open letter to Dun Laoghaire Welfare/Intreo, my local Welfare centre. It's a long letter and is published online as well.

You are legally recipients as I have copied you in on this letter.

After causing years of harm and distress to claimants and not operating professionally, Dun Laoghaire have made me their latest victim, seemingly through malice rather than just sheer incompetence, and as a result I am destitute and face losing my home. Any amount of frantic and panic stricken contact with dun Laoghaire welfare and other offices has been coldly and completely ignored. This is illegal, and I find that when an authority tries to ignore a vulnerable adult, the best thing to do is circulate the communication until that authority is shamed into carrying out the duties they are obliged to, this is why I'm posting this online and circulating it to TDs, councillors, Dun Laoghaire council and others, I may even post it on lamp posts around Dun Laoghaire.

As I write this, I'm so hungry it's hard to think, welfare have left me to starve for a month, I'm a multiple disabled vulnerable adult, they've also left me to lose my home, they've done this knowingly, I haven't been able to raise the money for my rent and I'm in immediate danger of homelessness, I have had to sit in the street in Dublin and beg for food, this is despite the fact that I'm ordinarily resident in Ireland, I have all my rights here, I'm a working age, I'm actively seeking work and I was forced to leave my job for a very good reason, welfare are aware of this and got all my documents. For a month, despite a recent cardiac diagnosis, I have had to fight and fight welfare for help and they haven't just refused me, they've ignored me.

I left my job when a violent and unpredictable manager threatened to hit me. I immediately applied for jobseekers online. My claim was ignored, I was ignored and my emails to dun Laoghaire welfare and community welfare covering my claim, destitute situation and proof of means and address through bank statement were ignored.

Welfare then closed the jobseekers claim within days of it being made, without any form of notification either through the mywelfare site, or by letter, email or text, welfare are aware that my disability means I cannot use a phone.

In panic I spoke to my social worker from my previous area and he contacted welfare and they lied to him, they refused my email authorizing him to speak for me and tried to tell him that it wasn't my email address. This of course affected the trust between me and the social worker and welfare did nothing at all. The social worker continued to contact dun Laoghaire welfare and his contact was ignored, he could do no more as he was in my old area and has bent the boundary to help me out of concern. There was no social worker available locally and in panic, I completed two SWA forms exactly the same and sent one to Dun Laoghaire community welfare and one to the minister for social welfare, explaining that Dun Laoghaire intended to ignore me and leave me homeless and destitute, it was now less than two weeks until my rent was due and I was destitute and hungry and having to trek to Dublin from south Dublin daily for food and to beg.

As expected, Dun Laoghaire welfare totally ignored my claim, never responded and sadly neither did the minister for welfare, I think her time in office is over, welfare are leaving people hungry and homeless in Dublin, swamping soup kitchens and day centres. I am hungry as I write, struggling into Dublin on crowded public transport that I can't afford and as a disabled person cant bear, and trying to get food at 4pm as I haven't eaten all day.
A month of this on top of a cardiac diagnosis and threat of losing my home is truly inexcusable on welfare's part. I have been very ill indeed. Many vulnerable people would not survive this.

If you look online at reviews of Dun Laoghaire welfare - try Google reviews, you will see that they routinely behave terribly towards vulnerable clients and among their reviews is one about them leaving a pregnant woman standing waiting outside in the cold for hours as well as them routinely ignoring phone calls and being rude to clients. They have ignored all correspondence from me, except one back covering lying email after my initial complaints, trying to issue the refusal letter which they never sent, and this was only when they saw that I had prepared a complaint to the ombudsman or court. I am a destitute vulnerable adult, why am I having to threaten them in order to get a response at all?

I had already appealed the illegal refusal made without correspondence from welfare. I had also made an emergency SWA claim which to this day is ignored.
The refusal and being ignored was pushing me towards rent day destitute. I was so ill that I had to bow out of all my volunteer roles which bring light to my life.

The claim for Jobseekers was 100% valid, with a good reason for me to leave my job, my proofs of income and address sent to Welfare in a covering email as I have no computer and couldn't upload them, and a very comprehensive email covering the claim, as the online claim form is severely limited and gives something like 500 words maximum to explain your claim. Welfare closed the claim without correspondence and without even asking for further information, and have never responded to the SWA/Emergency exceptional needs claim. It doesn't even show up on my Mywelfare account, despite the fact it was sent to the Minister for Social Welfare, Heather Humphreys as well and it was checked for postage by Dun Laoghaire post office.

Now, for a month I've battled for my life, battled to get food, to get through the terrible public transport from Carrickmines to town, to the daycentre, which is almost impossible due to travel cost or walking distance, I have a broken spine and EDS has ruined my joints so I can't walk far, so I manage daycentre for breakfast and then have to go and beg for lunch, dinner, toiletries, bus fares and other essentials, but a majority of my income from begging has gone on stamps, envelopes and printing to fight welfare for my case, all the way up to the offices of the Tánaiste and Taoiseach.

I believe that in my case racism is a very strong factor in the poor treatment by Welfare, but also that Dun Laoghaire Intreo is not fit for purpose, as shown in their reviews.
I have to go to Nutgrove every fortnight now, another long difficult journey, I go there for a food parcel from Crosscare as that is the nearest foodbank to my area, when I went for my first food parcel, I was lost and walked into Nutgrove Intreo, the staff were polite and welcoming, they thought I was there to sign for jobseekers. Now this was not hostile unwelcoming Intreo, this was accessible and easy to communicate with Welfare, but they didn't know where the foodbank was, and I found it anyway. One of my requests, especially as I am going to take action against Welfare, and Dun Laoghaire in particular, is that my claim is transferred to Nutgrove immediately and nutgrove can be assured I am very compliant when treated with respect, and very focused on going back into work.

I found the foodbank that day, and I had to grab what food I could as it would all be too heavy for me, miles from home and using public transport, but I had to go on into town and go to a job interview. I have never stopped applying for work, but the thing is, in deep poverty, my clothes are worn down, I don't have smart interview clothes, and my hair, which needs thinning monthly, hasn't been done since before Christmas, so even though I'm actively seeking work, as a destitute beggar and unable to get smart, I'm wasting my time. Welfare's refusal of Jobseekers is refusal of support into work for a vulnerable adult already facing huge barriers to work, this is why I ended up working for a bad employer before.

I have continued to contact welfare, Dun Laoghaire, appeals, customer services, Heather Humphreys, and I've been ignored. The time to make up the rent was running out, and I was only getting enough money through begging to deal with immediate needs such as food, toiletries, letters to Welfare, and travel costs, there was no hope of raising the money for the rent, and I've been so sick with stress over it. I have continued to be ignored by Welfare, their brief correspondences have included changing my title, name, address and also, very recently, trying to phone me when they know I can't use a phone, their message was almost inaudible even to someone who can hear a phone, and the message demanded that I phoned them to make an appointment, that was on Friday, with just a few days to go before the rent was due, the number was inaudible and it's unclear who was phoning or what appointment was required. My questions on this by email were just ignored.

I stepped up my pleas for help as this went on, contacting Leo Varadker and Micheal Martin's offices and Heather Humphrys. I contacted the church and SVP despite knowing the SVP cannot pay rent, cannot give cash, and if my landlords knew I relied on the SVP, I would no longer be a viable tenant.
Sadly no one helped me, no one got back to me on time and I had to tell my landlords I couldn't pay the rent. Before I tried to tell them, which left me in tears anyway, I looked at borrowing from a loan shark, with no income, there wouldn't be anywhere else I could borrow money from, but sadly the loan sharks want to loan quite a bit more than I need for my rent, and they can charge what interest they like and some of them are pretending to be in Ireland and not, so it has been dangerous so far, but I'm still forced to look for a loan and will be left suffering the interest if I want to keep a roof over my head.

On the streets of Dublin are hundreds of people who shouldn't be on the streets, many weren't substance abusers before they met the harshness of the streets, they aren't just there because DRHE are a failure, they are there because the Welfare system isn't fit for purpose and denies help to the most vulnerable routinely. I am a survivor advocate and I know that one of the tactics of abusers, especially narcissistic abusers, is to step back and enjoy the screams of their victims and refuse to communicate, and I feel that is what Dun Laoghaire are doing, as I face losing a safe tenancy where I'm happy after surviving a lifetime of abuse and violence. Abusers thrive on their victims being isolated, unheard, the voiceless vulnerable, and this letter is for all of us, the silent screams, this letter is for the men forced to suicide by Welfare, the women forced into prostitution, those left on the streets as I'm about to be, those who died of malnutrition, those who, like me, had no one to turn to. Dun Laoghaire, you are bullies, you are cowards, to abuse the vulnerable, and the current Dun Laoghaire Intreo management need to leave. Welfare is a service for the most vulnerable in society but you act as if it's a way of punishing them and terrorizing them, my friend says you act as if you own the money and treat claimants as thieves.

The soup kitchens and lines at the soup runs are too much for me, I have a broken spine and the joints in my legs are defective, even if I could wait in line, cigarette smoke causes me breathing problems, and as a vulnerable adult, the aggression around the homeless outreaches is bad for me, and even getting to any homeless outreach is hard for me due to my mobility and difficulty with public transport and lack of money for fares. Now, Dun Laoghaire is up to an hour away from me by public transport and there is no local Intreo to me. The reviews for Dun Laoghaire talk about people waiting for hours outside the Intreo Centre and I won't be able to. When I went to Nutgrove to find my food parcel, I walked into the Intreo centre, which was on level ground and accessible with no lines to wait in, was greeted by people with pens and forms, who asked if I was there to sign for Jobseekers. That was very accessible and simple even though it wasn't why I was here, and as Dun Laoghaire Intreo are not going to treat me well and is inaccessible, it would be better to transfer me to Nutgrove, it's a long journey on public transport but it would work.

Today is May 27th, my rent was due on the 24th, there's no money and I'm sick with worry, not sleeping properly and it has caused hurt and damaged trust between me and my landlord. I have spent a month, just after a cardiac diagnosis, worried sick and literally sick as a result. On May 24th, the day my rent was due, Dun Laoghaire decided to twist the knife, at 4pm after I had spent the day fighting welfare and pleading with the church for help and searching for loan sharks, Welfare sent me a message. 4pm on the day the rent was due - this is a classic Welfare, usually they will send a harmful message to a vulnerable adult last thing on a Friday on the hope they will commit suicide over the weekend.

Now the message, after leaving me destitute all that time, was that Dun Laoghaire had awarded jobseekers - presumably this was a reviewed decision on the illegally refused award, there was no explanation or apology for the weeks of trauma, they were basically forced to award because I wouldn't stop raising the matter with the leaders of government, and decided to deliberately override my crisis situation and make the award useless to me and my crisis and inaccessible, they sent a letter through MyWelfare, making the award, but the letter was unprofessional and rambling, with incorrect dates and a very unclear indeed scenario regarding the delivery of the payments. Firstly, although I left my job on April 21st and applied the next week for Jobseekers, Welfare had awarded from May 1st, denying me a week of Jobseekers and thus affecting my ability to pay my rent even if there was any Jobseekers payment arranged.

The letter was unclear, they obviously owed arrears but rather than making sure I had that money to pay my rent, they made confused references to it, and with a garbled and nonsensical 'If you're this, if you're that' it appeared that they were trying to send me to a post office miles away next Tuesday, June 3rd, to get? One payment, why is unclear as I gave my bank details for my application, indeed I don't actually know if I go to the post office or not. It appears that Welfare have gone out of their way to deliberately harm me and make me homeless, and repeat emails about the matter through Thursday and Friday were totally ignored, leaving me absolutely panicking, nothing has been clarified, no letter, no email, so I am taking the behaviour of Welfare to be a malicious effort to leave me homeless rather than just sheer incompetence, their letter was nonsensical, I've neve been on a jobseekers payment and I have learning difficulties, and rather than responding to my urgent situation, they decided to send a garbled nonsensical letter and leave me still terrified and facing homelessness.

I am too vulnerable to be in the dangerous hostels in Dublin, I cannot fight for food in town and begging is dangerous, sitting on the dirty ground leads to illnesses which can include HIV and Hepatitis, begging on the ground is dangerous for a person with a broken spine who cannot spring up when attacked, which happens frequently, addicts are territorial and a non addict getting begging money makes them angry, a beggar near me was stabbed not long ago. If made homeless, I will sleep rough, and I am very vulnerable, and Welfare cannot say that they were ignorant of my situation, all the emails and letters going right up to Heather Humphreys and the heads of government are amply evidenced. As yet, my landlords have let me stay on, but I cannot even say to them 'I'll have the money by Tuesday' or any other day, because Welfare have made sure of that a) I don't know how or when I will get a payment, b) not making any arrangement for arrears, and c) deliberately cutting my claim short by removing a week, to ensure I won't have enough for the rent! They worked really hard to do this damage, and because even if they deny it, their handling is incredibly incompetent, dangerously so, especially when they were fully aware of my situation, this letter is also a serious formal complaint.

So here I am, desperate and distressed and facing homelessness. My original Jobseekers claim was perfectly eligible, and Welfare have had all my documentation, they didn't even discuss the claim or ask for more information and simply closed the claim within days of it being made, without notifying me. Had welfare awarded instead of trying to close the claim without correspondence, awarded it, from the date it was due, then I would not have spent a month fighting them and being ignored, suffering and in extreme fear and distress, I would have had the money coming in weekly to save towards the rent, anyone reading this who doesn't think that can work, it's how I lived before on SWA in the past, yes it can be done, many people don't qualify for rent supplement or HAP and pay their rent with their weekly payment. Welfare have failed to even tell me if my payment is weekly nor when or how the arrears are due, even if I won my review, they've left the payment in an incomprehensible mess and left me unable to pay the rent, and have ignored my application and plea for an exceptional needs payment. When closing the Jobseekers claim and not notifying me, Welfare also didn't award SWA.

An open letter has a purpose, this one shares my traumatic experience with the world, but I also have requests to make. Recipients of this letter, please contact Dun Laoghaire and ask them to provide a payment on May 29th so that I can pay my rent, whether it is arrears of Jobseekers dating back to the time I left my job, an exceptional needs hardship payment or an exceptional needs hardship Loan, or a backpayment of the SWA that I applied for when they refused me jobseekers, and failed to respond to the SWA/Exceptional Needs request. I will apply again for the SWA emergency payment, but they will ignore it and ignore me unless you step in. Abusers don't like to be in the spotlight over their abuse, they like to hide.
I would like Dun Laoghaire to stop ignoring communication, the same goes for the rest of welfare departments, they have no right to ignore communication, and I would like them to refer me as a client to Nutgrove as, after what Dun Laoghaire have done and what they are reputed to do to the vulnerable, they are not a viable Intreo Centre and need to undergo a 'visitation', and audit assessment to find out who is making them a non-viable Intreo Centre, they are the only Intreo Centre in a massive densely populated area and that too is not right, Social Welfare have obligations, and by providing one very inefficient, cruel and incompetent centre in a huge area of South Dublin, they are compromising the lives of many vulnerable people. This matter is just a highlight of their treatment of all vulnerable people, and the management behind it are due for dismissal.

This letter will be posted online until my rent problem is solved, it will be sent to activists and possibly the press and will be circulated to local dignitaries, councils and other leaders,