Urban Futures occupied: Six months’ workfare no way!

Urban Futures are the subcontractors for Community Work Placements in Haringey. We went there to challenge them and let people know their rights!

Urban Futures are the subcontractors for Community Work Placements in Haringey. They treat people like rubbish. We went there to challenge them and let people know their rights!

Here’s a report from today’s occupation of Community Work Placement provider Urban Futures!

Today members of Haringey Solidarity Group and Boycott Workfare paid a visit to workfare provider Urban Futures in Wood Green. Fifteen people occupied the office with banners and a soundsystem – challenging Urban Futures on their treatment of claimants and speaking to people on enforced jobsearch about their experiences and sharing info on their rights.

We’d already heard that the managers are aggressive and bullying towards claimants, so expected the same. But the short occupation revealed the nasty attitudes throughout the staff team – about ten staff tried to hassle people out and came out with some revealing lines, taunting a number of us that we should “get a job” (yawn). When one of us replied that he had a job, they replied, “I can’t believe you have a job, looking like that.”

Staff grabbed and tore up know your rights leaflets

Staff grabbed and tore up know your rights leaflets

Staff tried to make sure claimants didn’t access info on their rights. They confiscated leaflets and tore them up, and blocked the doors to rooms where claimants were doing job search. They grabbed phones and bags off people and tried to take the banner too.

But this didn’t stop us making our point: by the time ten police turned up, almost every claimant had a copy of the flyer, we’d had some good chats and staff had been taken away from their nasty work for some time! On our way out, we ran into people mandated onto training courses with Urban Futures. They were really pleased to see us there, until the manager came up and, treating them like children, tried to shoo them back into the building. “Don’t speak to them, they’re doing meaningful activity,” the manager told us, before adding contemptuously, “unlike you, who have time on your hands.”

Today’s occupation is part of ongoing action by Haringey Solidarity Group to expose and challenge Urban Future’s role in mass workfare in Haringey. At weekly leafleting sessions outside their offices, disturbing stories of bullying and mistreatment have emerged. So much so that it is rumoured that a local Jobcentre has suspended referrals to Urban Futures pending investigation into claimants’ treatment.

A successful action with more to come

A successful action with more to come

Community Work Placements shouldn’t exist, but Urban Futures don’t even seem to be following the rules: most placements appear to be in charity shops (this kind of placement is meant to be capped at 25%), claimants are told to make up time for hospital appointments, staff give people the answers in numeracy and literacy tests, and placements are rarely matched to people’s job goals.

But today’s action aimed to put Urban Futures on notice: we are watching, we will make sure people know their rights and we will do everything we can to discourage organisations from accepting forced work placements from them. Just last week, ten placements at Traid were cancelled. This Saturday, Haringey Solidarity Group will be calling on North London Hospices to do the same.

Urban Futures weren’t the only workfare provider to face protests today. Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty blockaded Learn Direct in Edinburgh too!


Comments (7)

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Well done to all concerned!

Not difficult to see why this money-making outfit wouldn't want claimants to know their legal rights. The urban futures for those subjected to the mandatory daily torments of this crew is most bleak and extremely exploitative, I fear.

Paul Glendenning

Well done to all who took part in your week of action against workfare. As for Urban Future, what a nasty little group of bilious toads it seems the management are. Perhaps it would be a good idea for more visits to be scheduled to their placements and offices. Maybe you should consider setting up a sort of "inspection group" - participants could all carry clip boards with a spoof tick-sheet on-board. At the end of each visit, a sort of OFSTED type rating could be given .... HEY, you could even make a scene of presenting whatever d**k head happens to be the duty manager with the report sheet ..... Press opportunity at least ....

Whatever happens, please keep up the pressure. I am not out of work , in fact I am self employed, but I do hate the system that turns the unemployed into some sort of underclass composed of the deserving and so called undeserving ....


Like the idea! If you're in London, get in touch and help make it happen :)


Not about Urban Futures, but I remember the condescending nature of the staff in our local not for profit dole monkey training centre. They had us doing wordsearches, *this is not a joke*, as a course filler. All of our course material, the employability worksheets, were downloaded from the internet and badly printed/photocopied. These JSA training/learning centres are a scam.

Well done to all involved for occupying this branch!! I would have loved to have seen this happening in our local training centre. They are soul destroying centres! I'm sure the claimers in there appreciated the support.

Matthew MacCoughnahey

The answer to get a job should always be, I have one shagging your mum/dad.


well done!
i am on placement at urban futures and north london hospice charity shaops

they are a bunch of crap!

they reported me to jobcentre plus for missing an appointment, i was lucky not to get sanctioned
the whole thing is a scam, and urban futures
are totaly incompetant

patsy pudenda

I concur with most of the above(excepting the shagging your mum/dad) quote.
We should all unite and quash this regime of forced labour.
I am kept being told that I am a "Volunteer".
I keep saying that I never "Volunteered for this,I am being coerced into this,if not I will be sanctioned.