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Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

Help make sure British Heart Foundation go the whole way

Posted: November 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Call to action, Charities | Tags: | 1 Comment »

Mark Thomas has spoken out against the use of workfare by British Heart Foundation: “As someone who fundraises and supports BHF (L2B bike ride regular) it’s gutting to see them join an exploitative scheme like Workfare. BHF involvement in Workfare has undermined my trust and committment to them as a campaigning group. I would ask BHF to reconsider. If they wish to keep their public status as a charity that is automatically thought well of by the public then they should cease their involvement with Workfare.”

A few months ago, British Heart Foundation was proud to say that “Around 1,000 of [people working in their shops] are on placements with us through Work Programme schemes and 600 [people working in their shops] are placements on Mandatory Work Activity.”

But since September’s day of action against charity workfare, more and more volunteers, customers and members of the public have been speaking out against their exploitation of the unemployed. Comedian Mark Thomas even added his voice saying “BHF involvement in Workfare has undermined my trust and commitment to them as a campaigning group.”

Our efforts are paying off and last week British Heart Foundation announced “Currently we are moving away from involvement in the mandatory work activity programme towards schemes which provide longer term voluntary placements.”

However, we have since heard that people are still beginning mandatory Work Activity placements in their stores. We want them to confirm publicly that they will end ALL placements which put people to work on threat of losing benefits. Please keep up the pressure until they do, and help make sure this charity which has profited from exploiting literally thousands of unemployed people pulls out of workfare entirely.

BHF Retail HQ – 01372 477 300
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bhf
Contact: http://www.bhf.org.uk/contact-us.aspx
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheBHF

Unless we hear they have withdrawn completely, help us keep up the pressure by visiting your local store during our week of action which kicks off on 8th December!


More reasons to take action this Saturday

Posted: September 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Charities, Name and shame, Personal accounts | Tags: | 2 Comments »

Comedian Mark Thomas has this week spoken out against the use of workfare by British Heart Foundation: “As someone who fundraises and supports BHF (L2B bike ride regular) it’s gutting to see them join an exploitative scheme like Workfare. BHF involvement in Workfare has undermined my trust and commitment to them as a campaigning group. I would ask BHF to reconsider. If they wish to keep their public status as a charity that is automatically thought well of by the public then they should cease their involvement with Workfare.”

One charity which has admitted to using workfare on a massive scale is British Heart Foundation. This week, comedian Mark Thomas has spoken out against their involvement. Below, Izzy Koksal blogs about a visit to her local store to speak to the people forced to work without pay. Want to take action? Saturday is the day to do it as people across the UK take on charity involvement in workfare.

Forget second hand furniture – the British Heart Foundation is the place to go if you want to understand the reality of workfare. I popped along to my local store this afternoon in the hope of speaking with someone about their experience of workfare. The policy director of the BHF had announced that every store had people on work placements from the government’s various schemes and so this seemed like a good place to start. Speaking with the manager, she looked around the room and counted those on Mandatory Work Activity, ‘1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 today’ she informed me, adding ‘we do have pure volunteers as well’. I certainly had come to the right place to witness workfare at work. Three men were at the back of the room hammering at a wardrobe, a young woman was answering the phone and arranging for donations to be collected by the van, another woman was sticking price tags on sofas – all of these people were here because, as one of them put it, ‘there is no choice’, if they refused they would lose their benefits.
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Dial-A-Provider: A charitable call: DAY 1

Posted: July 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Call to action, Charities | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Dial-a-provider! Image: Kristian Dela Cour / Flickr

Boycott Workfare has already seen some success with charities pulling out from workfare: Shelter, Mind, Oxfam and Marie Curie have all having opted out. But others have refused to budge and continue to use workfare. Today is the first day in a series of online protests to coincide with the Week of Action. Get involved – make a few calls to the charities who think it’s still alright to replace paid workers and volunteers with people who are forced to work unpaid.

The BHF to start.

The British Heart Foundation continues in its use of Mandatory Work Activity and work programme placements, though has shifted from its once placatory position to a newly brazen one. Its policy director, Betty McBride, recently told the Guardian’s John Harris that “…in every one of our shops, we have work programme placements – some mandatory, some voluntary.”

This is a shameful development, but at least they are no longer denying that people work in BHF stores against their will. That’s why British Heart Foundation are top of the list to call and ask a few questions. Such as, how is it alright to make people stop their genuine volunteering elsewhere to be mandated to work for BHF? (As happened to this twitter user.) And then, since they now acknowledge they have mandated ‘hires’ (previously ‘volunteers‘), how can they justify that they might be responsible for pushing people into extreme poverty, unable to heat their houses or buy food, through benefit sanctions? Can they understand the resentment felt by these workers, not only at having to do something against their will, but because of the draining worry that any mistep can lead to sanction?

The questions are many.

Why not give the BHF a call and tell them why you are against workfare, and if already you are, or minded to, why it is you are going to be boycotting their stores until they declare themselves a workfare-free zone?

BHF Retail HQ – 01372 477 300


While you’re on the phone…

…here are four other charities that you might wish to speak to about workfare, with all but Barnardo’s offering Mandatory Work Activity placements:
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Update for the National Day of Action Against Workfare (March 3rd)

Posted: March 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Call to action, Info on schemes, Name and shame | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

By claiming to withdraw the sanctions from its Work Experience scheme, (just one of five workfare schemes) the government has appeared to budge a tiny bit. Importantly Workfare has been exposed as a truly and deeply unpopular policy, with rattled ministers failing to reassure companies like Boots, who continue to pull out of the scheme. This is a direct result of the enormous public pressure that has been put on companies who have been profiting from workfare. But this is not the end of workfare and therefore we must keep the pressure up. That is why we will be taking to the streets this Saturday and why our campaign continues.

Work Experience is just 1 of 5 workfare schemes. The Work Programme is another one of these schemes in which job seekers will be forced to work unpaid in high street stores, including well known charities, up and down the country. Some of these stores that may be worth a visit include –

Wilkinsons, Savers, Asda, Pizza Hut, British Heart Foundation, Barnardos, Holiday Inn, Poundstretcher.

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No foundation for a Heart

Posted: February 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Charities, Name and shame | Tags: | 22 Comments »

The British Heart Foundation, contacted by a Boycott Workfare campaigner back in November, were insistent that they “would not actively encourage any placements, regardless of the scheme name, where the person involved is not a willing participant…” But PBarclays, a commenter on the Guardian’s cif pages, is willing alright, willing their time at the British Heart Foundation under a MWA placement to come to an end, speaking of the charity they say:

Lets get things straight, I am being FORCED to work for one of these SO CALLED CHARITIES, I dont know if im allowed to name them here but they are running a prominent ad campaign with vinnie jones and initials BHF… Read the rest of this entry »