This week’s the Week of Action vs Sanctions and Workfare with daily online actions. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please take a minute to:
- Lobby Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice shops to withdraw from workfare
- Sanction B&M Stores who we’ve been told are replacing paid workers with workfare
- Ask the British Psychological Society to challenge psychological coercion in the benefits regime
- Tweet the leaders of the main political parties to challenge their unanimous support for workfare
- Challenge the Salvation Army about its role in workfare and sanctions
Today we’re supporting the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign’s call for people to contact the charities and voluntary organisations you support to invite them to pledge to shun workfare too. Read on for more info, and follow Keep Volunteering Voluntary on twitter and facebook.
There are a lot of organisations who have said they won’t take workfare, but still a lot who do. We want all voluntary work to be freely chosen, not a means for private companies to make profits or Jobcentres to force people off benefits. Keep Volunteering Voluntary (KVV) have set up a pledge and already over 450 organisations have signed!
You can help to encourage organisations to sign up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary in several ways. Firstly check whether they are already on the list of sign-ups.
- If you use or support a charity, try to find out whether they use workfare, and in any case ask them to sign up to KVV.
- If there is a local charity shop, go in and talk to the people there: find out whether there is anyone there on workfare, and ask the organisation to sign up to KVV.
- If you work or volunteer at a voluntary organisation, try to get them to sign up.
- If a place you work or volunteer at has any links with a voluntary organisation, try to contact them too.
Some responses you may get and some tips on how to reply:
“We’ve already signed up.” – great, well done!
“We don’t have anyone on workfare.” – so you won’t mind signing up to KVV then.
“We’re helping the unemployed gain experience.” – that’s not of much value if they don’t want to be there.
“What’s wrong with (unpaid) volunteers.” – there’s no objection to genuine volunteers, but to compulsory schemes and coercion.
“The people on placement want to be here.” – that’s fine, but they shouldn’t be threatened with sanctions.
If you can get any kind of statement from an organisation, that’s always useful – a way in to further dialogue, or good publicity for the campaign. Let Boycott Workfare know and we’ll pass it on to KVV as well.
Some charities – such as Age UK – have a national office but each local area branch is ‘independent’ and may sign up separately. So if you see a local branch signed up but not your area, that’s an added incentive for your local to sign up too.
Without charities’ support, workfare schemes will collapse. That’s why every extra new organisation to sign up is so important – helping build consensus in the voluntary sector that workfare is completely at odds with its aims and values.
Perhaps you’d like to take the opportunity to contact some persistent workfare-using charities with your concerns too?
- See if there are any charities local to you on our list of workfare exploiters
- Ask hospices how they can reconcile caring for the community with sanctions. Contact North London Hospice shops or other charity hospice shops too
- Contact Groundwork UK – which hosts hundreds of placements and a DWP sub-contractor for the schemes
- Contact YMCA – which releases reports condemning sanctions, but then helps sanction people on Mandatory Work Activity
And don’t forget to check out the list of actions taking place across the UK today and tomorrow as part of the Week of Action vs Workfare and Sanctions.