Last week, we were contacted by someone who was shocked to overhear a Pinnacle People advisor discussing clients in public in high street charity shops, including a Children’s Society store. She told us:
“The Pinnacle employee used the words ‘Mandatory Work Activity’, ’30 days’, and then they all had a moan together about how silly it was that ‘these people’ can’t be ‘put to work’ cleaning up litter and drains and stuff, like they do in the US. In the previous shop the Pinnacle employee was talking about how ‘work experience’ is a way of catching people who’ve got jobs on the side that they aren’t declaring etc.”
Following a few emails and phone calls, that campaigner has achieved a public commitment from The Children’s Society that they do not use workfare. The Children’s Society say:
“The Children’s Society has a strict policy of not accepting volunteers who are on the DWP’s Mandatory Work Activity Programme. Only last month, a number of agencies wanting to place volunteers in our shops who are on the programme, were turned down.
“Our volunteers play a key role in supporting our work with disadvantaged children. All volunteering at The Children’s Society should be done by choice and under no obligation from any other agency.
“On this occasion, it appears someone who is subject to the DWP’s Mandatory Work Activity Programme, has been volunteering in one of our shops. No mention that the volunteer was involved in this programme was made to the shop manager before the volunteer placement was secured. As a result of this being brought to our attention, the placement was immediately stopped. The Children’s Society’s Retail Managers will also be reminded of our policy not to accept volunteers who are involved with the Mandatory Work Activity Programme.”
Another powerful testament to people power when challenging workfare, and great news in the same week that Sense have finally pulled out of workfare too. For top tips on finding workfare on your high street, see this blog. The workfare week of action is coming up on 18-24 March..