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National day of action against charities involved in workfare

September 4, 2012

From Boycott Workfare

Boycott Workfare is calling on anti-workfare groups up and down the country to take action against charities who are profiting from workfare on Saturday 8th September. Thousands of us have taken action against the corporate workfare exploiters, so it’s important that we don’t let charities off the hook.

Charities are using workfare on a massive scale.

Numerous high profile charities have replaced staff and volunteers with forced unpaid workers. One British Heart Foundation manager boasted that her shop was run mostly on the constant supply of workfare that she received from the local provider. British Heart Foundation’s policy director told the Guardian that everyone of their 700 stores had work programme placements ‘some mandatory, some [read – none] voluntary’

Workfare is clearly happening in the charity sector big time.

Workfare pushes people into destitution

How can charities claim to make the world a better place when they are directly responsible for driving people into poverty and destitution through sanctions? The disturbing reality is that unemployed disabled people could be forced to work in the Scope, Cancer Research UK or British Heart Foundation charity shops that claim to support them. Salvation Army and Barnardos claim to fight poverty but claimants face the loss of subsistence benefits if they do not take part in workfare in their stores. Meanwhile, the heads of BHF and Barnardos receive £153,000 a year and £166,000 a year respectively.

The government wants to massively expand charity involvement

Never has it been more urgent for the voluntary sector to make a stand against workfare exploitation. The government has plans to put a further 1.06 million unemployed people on workfare for “community benefit”. Thousands of people freely volunteer their time for charities they feel passionate about. Forcing people to work without pay on risk of destitution couldn’t be further from this tradition.

Our actions are already having an impact

Public pressure has already resulted in numerous charities pulling out. Oxfam put their reason for doing so simply: workfare is “incompatible with our goal of reducing poverty in the UK”.

Take action to end charity involvement in workfare

On 8th September, take to the streets or join the online wave of action to end charity involvement in workfare.

Get involved with an action near you or organise one yourself! Workfare walks of shame, pickets, and occupations are some fun actions you can do on your local high street. Or go online to let these charities know what you think of workfare using twitter and facebook.

Post your actions on the facebook event or in the comments and we’ll add them to the list!


Which charities are involved?

Barnardo’s – work experience scheme and Work Programme (personal testimony)

British Heart Foundation – Work Programme and Mandatory Work Activity (sleuthing and personal testimony)

Cancer Research MWA placement (personal testimony)

Community Service Volunteers – MWA placement (personal testimony)

RSPCA – Mandatory Work Activity

Salvation Army – Work Programme

Scope – Mandatory Work Activity (DWP press release link no longer working)

Sue Ryder – Mandatory Work Activity (personal testimony)

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