Dial-A-Provider: A charitable call: DAY 1

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:

Salvation Army

The Sally Army chooses to describe their ‘offering’ of forced placements as a “hand up” .

(020) 7367 4500

Cancer Research UK

The charity appeared to Boycott Workfare on a list of MWA-accepting organisations as part of a Freedom of Information request. We have heard nothing from them publicly to deny the involvement. Have a talk with them to ask what’s going on.

(Switchboard) 020 7242 0200

Age UK

Having said they’ve no “formal links” to the Work Programme nationally, Age UK’s February statement went on to say that placement decisions occur at a local level, and was to be looked into.

0800 169 87 87
(freephone from a landline)


Whilst the charity’s position is not to accept Mandatory Work Activity placements, it is happy taking on Work Experience placements. Though the sanctions have been temporarily removed from this scheme (except where reasons of gross misconduct apply), we know that those who choose not to take part have been moved onto Mandatory Work Activity by jobcentre staff and that others continue to be given the impression they will be sanctioned if they do not take part. This is an issue you may wish to talk through with Barnardo’s.

Head Office: 0208 550 8822

Rounding off with one more call…
(The Charity Retail Association – 020 7255 4470)

The Charity Retail Association is the trade body that represents the member interests of over 350 UK charity retailers (the above included). As members, charities are bound by the CRA’s Code of Charity Retailing. One of its codes reads as follows:

1.2 Members should not bring the charity retail sector into disrepute, or undermine it, by any inappropriate or illegal activity.

By calling the CRA, you will help show that a loss of support has hit the sector because of workfare policies amongst its member charities (something we are constantly told in the emails and tweets we receive). You don’t have to make this a long conversation, the point is to highlight what member involvement in workfare means, and how this has led you to stop making donations and supporting stores – none of which tally with the aims of the CRA code:

  • increase donations to charity shops
  • promote public confidence in, and support for, charity shops

As with all calls, please keep things civil, because as much as we detest these schemes, it is not the fault of the person we are speaking to, and the point is to have somebody listen.

Staying online

If you can’t contact them by phone, then why not take part online? Here are some readymade tweets we recommend you use for each of the above charities (the Charity Retail Association will be copied in):

I can no long support @TheBHF whilst it accepts #workfare placements. I am no longer going to
shop with them or make donations. @charityretail
I can no long support @salvationarmyuk whilst it accepts #workfare placements. I am no longer going to shop with them or make donations. @charityretail
I can no long support @CR_UK whilst it accepts #workfare placements. I am no longer going to shop with them or make donations. @charityretail
I can no long support @age_uk whilst it accepts #workfare placements. I am no longer going to shop with them or make donations. @charityretail
I can no long support @barnardos whilst it accepts #workfare placements. I am no longer going to shop with them or make donations. @charityretail

And the Facebook and contact pages for each charity:


Salvation Army

Cancer Research

Age UK


The Charity Retail Association

That’s it! More tomorrow…


Comments (3)

Leave a Reply

john foley

Time to protest outside these shops to...Time to protest on the streets also were they have people trying to sign you up through your bank..I told BHF on bold street Liverpool what i thought of them now...Never mind they are a charity,protests must come...


charity shops arnt replacing paid workers, their workforce is not paid, how is this an argument?

Anne O'Neill

All emailed and no more donations until they pull out of the workfare schemes.