Take action: Invite organisations to Keep Volunteering Voluntary

KVV logoAll week we’ve been inviting people to take part in online action to challenge workfare. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please take a minute to:

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 a template letter, 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 430 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.

Download this template letter you can take to a charity shop, or adapt as an email to send to a voluntary organization.

Some responses you may get and 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 charity’s 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.

A massive thanks to everyone who has taken part online and organised demonstrations throughout the week of action! There are more protests in Amsterdam and Peckham today, and in Bristol, Haringey and Sheffield tomorrow!


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Landless Peasant

St Vincent de Paul, the “Great Apostle of Charity”, apparently, is a patron saint of the poor, and in particular also of Slaves. It may seem a little contradictory, therefore, and some may say staggeringly hypocritical, that one of the Workfare Providers in the Bradford area is none other than a charity founded in his name. Chas @ St. Vincent’s, or SVP, as it’s known, runs a large & busy furniture warehouse and sorting dept. for their charity shops, employed by an army of compulsory Workfare Slaves. The organization is headed in UK by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and Ann Widdecombe. It seeks,”in the spirit of justice and charity, to help those who are suffering poverty in whatever form”, yet is happily using unemployed people as unpaid full-time workers for 6 months (and potentially longer) who have been mandated to do so under direct threat of facing destitution and great hardship, potentially resulting in their deaths.

jj joop

Are 4 weeks MWAs about to bite the dust?

My adviser recently told me if anyone is unemployed for more than three years now then they have to do some kind of voluntary work. They are given the option to find something for themselves near where they live or they will be referred to a provider who will put them on a 4 week MWA.

This is the first I had heard about it. I have to say though, she didn’t sound very convincing. I thought there weren’t enough MWAs around for WP attenders to go on, let alone putting WP returners on to them. If that were the case then surely you’d be referred back to the provider after completing the WP.

I think the Jobcentre are just trying to pull a fast one. Has anyone else heard anything about this?

Landless Peasant

Cardinal Nichols doesn't seem to be in a hurry to reply. Perhaps he's busy counting his money or something.