British Heart Foundation’s Workfare Lies

Major UK charity, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), have resorted to lying through their teeth to hide their use of mass workfare.

Hundreds of people have contacted them objecting to their use of forced labour on the government’s various workfare schemes.  The charity have responded with this statement:

“Our shops rely on the efforts of paid staff, volunteers and people on schemes and placements. Every new person goes through the same process, irrespective of which route they have used to come through our doors. Our shop managers have a discussion with all applicants to ensure that their joining us is appropriate and mutually beneficial. If either side feels that this will not be the case, the applicant will not take up a position with us.”

This flies in the face of British Heart Foundation’s admission that they currently have 600 unpaid workers on the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme.  As the name suggests, this schemes involves four weeks unpaid work, and is used as a punishment by Jobcentre staff when they decide someone isn’t trying hard enough to find work.

When MWA was first proposed the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), who scrutinise government welfare rules, warned:

“We also wonder why, given that the Department views mandatory work activity as a beneficial change, people will not be permitted to volunteer to take part. This seems to us to signal that being mandated to mandatory work activity is regarded as a punishment rather than an opportunity to learn and develop new behaviours and skills.”

The committee recommended that MWA should not go ahead.  Despite this the Government ploughed on regardless and tens of thousands of people have now been sent on the scheme.  MWA does not help people find work, and it isn’t intended to.  Just like community payback, it is a punitive scheme, the only difference being that if you are caught burgling someone’s home you at least get a trial.

Increasing numbers of people have expressed outrage at major UK charities exploiting unemployed people to staff their charity shops.  The more ethical charities such as Oxfam and Marie Curie have already pulled out.  Others like the British Heart Foundation and Scope have carried on regardless and simply attempted to mislead the public about their use of forced labour.

There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence from people forced to work in BHF shops that despite the charities claims, they do not feel their placement with them is “appropriate and mutually beneficial.”

W King, in the comments of this blog recently noted: “I’ve been assigned to BHF starting next monday, definitely nothing voluntary about that.”

Most damning of all are the findings of Izzy Koksal, who recently visited a BHF charity shops in search of workfare and reported:

“Speaking with the manager, she looked around the room and counted those on Mandatory Work Activity, ‘1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 today’ she informed me, adding ‘we do have pure volunteers as well’.”

Speaking to those on workfare revealed the exactly how unhappy some of these ‘impure’ volunteers are:  “the young woman at the desk hearing why I was there, said quietly and emphatically ‘it’s not nice here, it’s not nice here’.”

“I went over to the three men who were fixing a broken wardrobe. ‘It’s a punishment’ one of the men told me as he hammered a nail into the wardrobe ‘it’s nothing to do with work experience, if you miss a day your benefits are stopped, it’s about stopping people from claiming benefits…Yes, I really appreciate this work experience, the 13 years of work I’ve done managing clubs in London really wasn’t enough’ he says good naturedly.”

The full story, which is well worth reading, can be found at:

Today (Sept 8th)  sees another National Day of Action Against Workfare and many groups will be choosing to target charities, including BHF, who are benefiting from unpaid workers.

Even those who don’t consider forced unpaid work to be vile exploitation, may think twice about supporting charities who are prepared to lie about their use of workfare.  After all, if they lie about that when what else could they be lying about.  Charities like BHF, and Scope who also deny using workfare despite having unpaid workers on the MWA scheme, risk bringing the entire charitable sector into disrepute.

With the government rekindling plans to force even claimants on sickness or disability benefits to work for free, it is vital we show these so called charities that the workfare is unfair, immoral and unethical.  And no amount of spin from high paid charity bosses will hide their dirty little workfare secrets.

For all the latest news on workfare and the campaign to bring unpaid forced labour to an end visit:

British Heart Foundation are on twitter @thebhf, whilst Scope can be contacted @scope – if you can’t attend today’s day of action in person then why not tell them what you think.


24 responses to “British Heart Foundation’s Workfare Lies

  1. BHF are c*nts. Had my nephew on MWA a while back and treated him like shite….

    Off topic, I know but are you aware of this??

    Royal Mail staff given access to confidential medical details

  2. Andrew Coates Old Grannie

    BHF are bleeding filth.


    I for one will make it a point of principle to never donate a single penny to this charity or to any others who take part in this disgrace of ‘workfare’. As charities they should know better. It’s a shame because these charities carry-out vital work.

  4. Another charity I have supported…but will now boycott! Disgusting!!

  5. Johnny V., slightly OT but some real neo-liberal nastiness going on here Kaliya Franklin aka Bendy Girl and the Brandon Trust today Sapere Aude! As they inexplicably say in Germany, in French.

  6. Johnny – this has nothing to do with BHF, but there’s something I need some help with.
    I’m useless at links and repostings (Luddite-itis) but there is a very sad story on diaryofabenefitscrounger about someone who really needs some help.
    I’ve written to a few MPs but if you can repost it or tweet it or whatever I’d be grateful.

    Anyway – thanks for all you do, even if you can’t help here.

  7. Isn’t this appalling, I had no idea!! Where I live (West End Lane, London) there is a whole row of charity shops, and until just now I was under the impression that they were all staffed by volunteers…well, most of them are, I know the people and they are mainly pensioners. What makes it more ironic is that I| once got into trouble with the Benefits Agency for doing voluntary work – because if you’re doing voluntary work you’;re not ;available to look for work’, are you???!!!!

  8. Fuck these Nazi bastards !

  9. Charities Act 2011

    [14] The Commission’s objectives

    The Commission has the following objectives—
    1. The public confidence objective

    The public confidence objective is to increase public trust and confidence in charities.
    2. The public benefit objective

    The public benefit objective is to promote awareness and understanding of the operation of the public benefit requirement.


    [36] Claims and objections to registration

    (1)A person who is or may be affected by the registration of an institution as a charity may, on the ground that it is not a charity—

    (a)object to its being entered by the Commission in the register, or

    (b)apply to the Commission for it to be removed from the register.


    Complain to the Charities commission, they are violating their stated charitable objectives by accepting forced labour. They are also damaging public confidence in charities and operating against the public benefit.

    BHF Charitable objects:

    Ironic that Sir Michael Gideon Marmot, one of its trustees, argued in ‘THE STATUS SYNDROME: How your social standing directly affects your health and life expectancy’, that socio-economic position is an important determinant for health outcomes. The causal pathway Marmot identifies concerns the psychic benefits of “being in control” of one’s life. Autonomy in this sense is related to our socio-economic position. Based on comparative studies, Marmot argues that we can make our society more participatory and inclusive in order to increase overall public health.

    What could be more calculated to deprive one of control than forced labour? When it accepts forced labour it undermines the voluntary nature of charities and by the research of its own trustees, it undermines the health and life expectancies of those forced labourers.

  10. Cold as Charities : hard at work with taxpayers’ money……forced labour at public expense…..making a profit for the head honchos in ‘management’, using slaves and ripping off the public. I mean, have you seen the prices they charge for donated goods in The Britshit Heart Foundation shops/outlets? And they don’t pay taxes coz they’re a fucking charity. Nice work, the poverty bizness.
    Sick as fuck…..any way you look at it. Heartbreaking really.

  11. Link to Diary of a benefit scrounger story (as mentioned above):

  12. Very much recognise the izzy koksal story – all appears to be running as long suspected.

    Some ten years ago my letters to and from the Charity Commission on a much different matter showed good results, which surprised me as almost every other public body at the time appeared to be bent (hacked by neoliberalism).

    Perhaps it is worthwhile writing to The Charity Commissioners with your own FACTUAL accounts of what you have found out yourself about the BHF?

  13. and remember these heartless bastards pour millions into animal experimentation

  14. 05 September 2003
    The British Heart Foundation has announced the appointment of Peter Hollins as its next Director General. He will replace Major General Leslie Busk, who retires in November.

    At that time Leslie Busk was on salary from BHF of £115,000,12406,1042677,00.html

    Following the announcement of Peter Hollins’ retirement after nine highly successful years as Chief Executive, the Board of Trustees is now seeking to appoint his successor.
    Posted:28 August 2012
    Ref:Chief Executive
    Contact:Jill Stewart
    Location:London (City of)
    Level:Senior Executive
    Hours:Full Time
    Salary:Competitive salary and benefits

    For further information, including the role description and job specification, and details on how to apply, please download the Appointment Details at quoting reference number 1099. For a confidential discussion about the role please contact Jill Stewart, UK Charity Lead Consultant at Perrett Laver on 0207 340 6200.

    The closing date for applications is noon (BST) on Monday 17th September 2012.

  15. Pingback: A selection of stories from the start of September. | Cautiously pessimistic

  16. We forced the BHF Furniture & Electrical store in Edinburgh to close for almost 2 hours on a Saturday afternoon during the Day Of Action against workfare on 8 Sept.

    And the last time we were at this store (31 March 2012) we occupied it for an hour!

  17. You wouldn’t believe how badly I was treated by the BHF when applying for paid employment as a nurse – BHF has no respect even for the nurses who care for those with heart conditions – guess they thought that they might get me for free on the forced labour programme!! It was an appalling ordeal just going through the recruitment process with BHF.

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