debt / welfare benefits

Anti-workfare protest at North London HospicePickets, 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.

No Benefit Sanctions, No WorkfareWhile 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.

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No pay at the YMCAToday members of Haringey Solidarity Group joined Boycott Workfare in paying a visit to the London headquarters of workfare exploiter YMCA. They’ve defended their use of unpaid, forced work in previous statements and we’ve called them out on it. Mandatory Work Activity forces people to work without wages under threat of sanction, and doesn’t help them find a job anyway. Whereas the Salvation Army have stated they will not get involved in the new 6 month long Community Work Placements starting later this month, the YMCA have yet to make a public statement on the issue.

The YMCA wants to have its cake and eat it. Their president, Bishop John Sentamu, has spoken against workfare. Yet, the organisation still takes part in some of the harshest schemes.  They’re also involved in delivering traineeships – workfare by another name.

We say volunteering should remain just that, and that people shouldn’t be “made to volunteer” under threat of sanction.

The fight against workfare is more important than ever, with 74,000 people being sanctioned every month. Sanctions are one of the main reasons people are turning to food banks to feed themselves, and you can now be sanctioned for up to three years. This is forcing people to make the choice between heating their homes or eating.

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with families, carers & supporters
11am, Saturday 29th March 2014
Assemble at Bruce Castle Park,
Lordship Lane N17 8NU

Move off 11.30 – march down Tottenham High Road to Tottenham Green East, N15 4UR for a

PUBLIC SPEAK-OUT
1000 Mothers March 2013
Follow up meeting; Haringey benefit claimants and supporters
11 am – 1 pm Saturday 12th April
North London Community House, 22 Moorefields Rd, N17 6PY

MOTHERS OF LONDON SAY

MARCH TO DEMAND

living incomes and decent, affordable homes to rent or buy for waged & unwaged

MARCH TO REJECT

bedroom tax, housing benefit caps, unfair taxes, hunger and cold homes – austerity hurts vulnerable people, the rich get richer

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Come to an info and skill-sharing day in London on 15 February, 10.45am-5.30pm, Maiden Lane Community Centre near Kings Cross. Directions here.

Getting your welfare rights is about a lot more than just knowing your welfare rights. Across the UK, people are getting together to support each other and pushing back workfare, standing up to sanctions, wrong decisions, and insecure housing.

Meet others from across the UK, hear inspiring stories, learn info about our rights and share tactics that work. This isn’t a day for speakers from the front. Party political representatives aren’t invited. It’s about people at the grassroots getting together and working out how we can support each other and throw even more spanners in the government’s plans!

If you are in a local group where people share mutual support on welfare or housing (or plan to start one), Boycott Workfare should be able to help with your travel costs. Please get in touch as soon as you can so we can sort it out.

Planning on coming? There’ll be tea, coffee and a free lunch! Please let us know you’re coming so we know how many people to cook for!

Want to know what to expect? Check out the agenda here. There’s an open space session in the afternoon if you’d like to offer a workshop too!