Earlier this year, a member of Haringey Solidarity Group and Kurdistan Anarchists Forum spent two weeks in Syrian Kurdistan. Here he writes about his experiences and considers the attempts at self-government in the region against the background of the Syrian civil war and rise of Islamic State.
- Published: 29 October 2014
Reel News footage of our Urban Futures occupation as part of the Boycott Workfare week of action against workfare.
- Published: 19 October 2014
About fifteen people, turned up at the North London Hospice Shop in Wood Green today, to protest at their use of forced labour, and to ask them to sign up to the Keep Volunteering Voluntary pledge.
North London Hospice has been staffing some of its 18 shops across Barnet, Enfield and Haringey with people on Community Work Placements. These people are forced to work for their benefits, or they face having their benefits stopped - four weeks for the first breach, and 13 weeks for the second.
We had some lengthy chats with people working inside the shop - mainly those lucky enough to be paid - and were surprised and saddened to hear the view that the people on CWP had a "choice", that they were not forced to work there.
This "choice" is not a choice at all - it's the choice between working at the shop, or facing having your benefits stopped, leading to possible destitution or starvation. Hardly a choice at all.
Article 4 of the Human Rights Act protects the right of humans to live free from forced labour - this is work which is carried out under threat of physical or psychological harm. In many people's eyes, six-month workfare comes pretty close to contravening this right.
This is one of the many reasons why we are asking charities like North London Hospice to reconsider their involvement in the scheme. It's why we want them to pledge not to staff their shops with anyone other than those who are paid a (living) wage to be there or who have genuinely offered to volunteer their free time.
Have a look at our earlier articles for more info on how to contact North London Hospice, if you have any views on their involvement with workfare.
- Published: 11 October 2014
Today members of Haringey Solidarity Group and Boycott Workfare paid workfare provider Urban Futures in Wood Green a visit. 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 tried to make sure claimants didn't access info on their rights. They confiscated leaflets and tore them up, and blocked doors to claimants inside the job search rooms. They grabbed phones and bags off people and tried to take the banner too.
- Published: 09 October 2014
We all know Community Work Placements aren’t about helping people find work. Instead, forced unpaid work and supervised job search treat the unemployed like criminals. Six months of workfare is more than twice the maximum community service sentence!
CWP forces claimants to work for 34 hours a week – most of the time doing pointless and menial tasks. And all for £72 a week – that’s about £2 an hour. CWP is forced labour.
Placements with no relationship to our experience or what we want, bullying and mistreatment, and pointless and menial placements - all under threat of benefit sanctions - are totally wrong.
But together we can fight them. Know your rights, name and shame placement hosts and get involved to help end all workfare!
Urban Futures: breaking the rules?
Urban Futures is making money out of making people’s lives a misery. CWP shouldn’t exist in the first place, but are Urban Futures even following the rules?
DWP guidelines state that:
- Placements must be of clear and demonstrable benefit to the community.
- Placements must give work experience and develop skills.
- Support for claimants should include appropriate help and workplace training.
- Work placements must be supervised with tasks similar to those in a normal working environment.
- No more than 25% of the placements they arrange should be in charity shops.
- Provider must establish claimants’ current job goals.
- Placements must not displace existing jobs.
- Claimants must start placement within 20 working days of Jobcentre Plus (JCP) referral.
- Published: 08 October 2014
On Saturday, 11 October, from 12pm, we'll be outside North London Hospice's Wood Green shop, as part of Boycott Workfare's week of action against workfare. And once more, we'll be asking them, why they are still involved with Community Work Placements and other workfare schemes.
Join us from 12pm at North London Hospice shop, 19 High Road, N22 6BH. Three minutes’ walk from Turnpike Lane tube station.
Hundreds of people in Haringey are being forced to work for six months with no pay under threat of sanctions under the new scheme.
Urban Futures have a contract for Community Work Placements and are busy finding placements in charities and “community benefit” projects across north London. But these schemes cannot work without charities making the placements possible – charities like North London Hospice.
- Published: 06 October 2014
Pickets, protests, and online pressure are meeting each organisation that is found participating in the government's latest and longest workfare scheme - Community Work(fare) Placements.
On Saturday morning, 16 August, Haringey Solidarity Group held a picket outside North London Hospice charity shop on Wood Green High Road (near Turnpike Lane) about their involvement with the six-month long, forced labour scheme. The picket attracted lots of interest and support from passersby, with some saying they would no longer shop there and others saying that they would contact the hospice to let them know about their concerns.
We have spoken to at least two people on Community Work Placements at this shop, and others at the shop near Wood Green tube.
You can find more details about how to get in touch with North London Hospice in our article here.
- Published: 18 August 2014
While the government would like to keep their names secret, the companies involved with running the recently launched Community Work Placements seem proud to publicise their involvement.
G4S won the contract for six regions across the country and was "delighted" to announce its involvement with the scheme which consists of six-month, forced, unpaid work placements for unemployed people. (The placements need local council and charity participation in order to claim to be of “community benefit”.)
But, being as they are the world's largest security company, G4S isn't bothering itself with the day-to-day business of sorting out placements for workfare conscripts. Instead, they have teamed up with "top-performing placement brokers" in the six regions for which it has a CWP contract. One of these regions is West London. This is the one that covers Haringey and, of the five partners it has here, only one, Urban Futures, appears to have an office in Haringey. They have expressed similar delight at their involvement with the government's newest forced labour scheme.
We have tried to figure out exactly what Urban Futures do, but their website, with all its talk of employment, training and apprenticeships, manages to hide the fact that they are fully signed up to a programme that threatens some of the most vulnerable people in our community with destitution and abject poverty.
Urban Futures may or may not be a lost cause, but we want to find out the names of the local charities and community organisations that they are using to fulfil their part of the CWP contract.
We have been talking to the people going in and out of Urban Futures' Wood Green offices. So far, the only confirmed partner is North London Hospice. According to personal testimonies, they have taken on a number of workfare conscripts in their Wood Green shop, and possibly others.
Many of us in HSG were really disappointed to hear about this. North London Hospice provides a service which places value on the quality of life of local people. Its complicity in this workfare scheme seems totally at odds with its main aims.
- Published: 12 August 2014
Monday 4th August 2014
Join us on for a peaceful remembrance vigil on the third anniversary of Mark's death. Mark's family are still fighting for justice and they need your support. There will be a meet up at 5pm outside Tangmere House on Broadwater Farm, to make our way to the spot on Ferry Lane where Mark was shot, for 6pm .
Directions: Tube & Train stop Tottenham Hale - Buses 41, 123, 192, 230 , W4
JUSTICE FOR MARK DUGGAN
- Published: 03 August 2014
Demonstrate on 28 July 2014 6.15 at a Pre Application Planning Meeting at the Civic Centre Wood Green N22
Instead of a Sell Off - let's expand the provision on Haringey's only hospital site. Residents are calling for a Walk In Urgent Care Centre, more GP Facilities, a Child Health Centre and expanded Mental Health provision
Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust are putting forward their plans to sell off 2/3rds of our NHS at what is called a Pre Application Meeting where Members (of the Council) NOT the public can raise concerns about this development.
This seems a sneaky way of smoothing things through before a planning decision is made by the Council in Mid September.
Come and raise your own concerns and anger about the way this plan is being pushed through without any Health Assessment or "Health Check" made of the health needs of the Borough.
No Sell off Without a Health Check !
Meet 6 15 at Civic Centre Wood Green High Road N22
Bring friends and colleagues! Bring placards.Show you want a Better St Ann's
-Last Chance to Save this NHS land being lost forever ! If the Plan goes through in September 2014 it could be sold on to any developer!
On 20th June Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust (BEHMHT) submitted the outline planning application for the St Ann's Hospital site. This is our hospital, it is NHS land that belongs to us, they cannot be allowed to sell the site without demonstrating how our health will benefit.
At a recent so called "Consultation"Meeting on 16/7/14 despite anger and concern expressed by residents and hospital users there were more questions than answers from BEH and the planning bureaucrats!
No Sell Off Without a Health Check! Residents and HaNSAH have consistently called for a Walk In Urgent Care Centre, more GP Facilities, a Child Health Centre and expanded Mental Health provision.
See Our Ideas for St Anns and How you can Object to BEHS Plans for Your St Anns Hospital see the HaNSAH Leaflet at the bottom of this email .
Link to Pre Application Agenda ....http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=728&MId=7044 .......St Anns at the end.
OBJECTION If you cannot get to the Demo then please make an an Objection.You can say that you object in principle to the change of use from a hospital and suggest the above health facilities be provided. And please do before 1 August 2014
Sign the petition against the Sell Off : http://tinyurl.com/loa6lzg
- Published: 27 July 2014
Tottenham Town Hall, Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham, London N15 4RY
6.30pm, Monday 9 June
Bring your neighbours and friends
Tenants and residents are objecting to Haringey Council's planned 'estate reviews', to sell off, demolish and redevelop many of our Council housing estates around the borough [*See details at the end]. There have already been large residents' meetings on some of the estates and people are saying 'We Will Not Be Moved!'.
Please come along to this important Lobby. Your family, friends and neighbours are all welcome. Let's put our case to the newly elected-Councillors, and speak out about the future of Haringey.
- Published: 07 June 2014