Dear British Heart Foundation – a letter of complaint

Dear British Heart Foundation

As a previous regular donor to my local British Heart Foundation (BHF) store, I wish to complain about your organisation’s use of ‘workfare’ placements along with the misleading information about the nature of the schemes on BHF’s website.

You state on your website that:

“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.” (1)

I believe this statement to be a deliberate misrepresentation of the nature of the Government scheme from which BHF draw many staff.  As BHF are doubtless aware, those on Mandatory Work Activity, and some of those on the Work Programme, face having benefits removed should they not attend workfare placements.  They are not ‘applicants’ but have been sent, under threat of sanction, to attend BHF.  A claimant is therefore unable to say that they do not feel the placement will be “appropriate or mutually beneficial” as this may result on benefits being stopped.  Anecdotal evidence is clearly emerging which suggests many workfare staff at BHF do not consider the placement appropriate and beneficial, as an examination of workfare staff in just one BHF store found:

“Before I could even ask a question, 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’. She went on to tell me that she had a qualification in retail and so ‘it’s not benefiting me at all’.”

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’” (2)

Evidence suggests that Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) has no benefit in helping people find work (3).  The Social Security Advisory Committee pointed out that this scheme cannot be volunteered for and could be regarded as a punishment.  The Committee also warned of the prospect of disabled people being referred to Mandatory Work Activity without “proper safeguards being put in place around unrealistic expectations of what they could do.”  It is clear this could also apply to those unwell due to a heart condition.  The Committee recommended that “Mandatory Work Activity Does Not Proceed.” (4)

Whilst BHF claim some workfare staff have gone on to work with the charity, it is crucial to note that under current guidelines, workfare placements must not come with a potential job offer attached. (5)  In the interests of transparency, are BHF prepared to release details of how many of the 1,600 people on Work Programme or MWA with the BHF have moved into paid work with charity and how many have completed an NVQ in Retail or Customer Services as part of their placement?

Due to the recent re-assessment for health related benefits, hundreds of thousands of claimants have been moved from sickness or disability benefits onto Job Seekers Allowance –  including many people suffering from heart conditions.  Several people have been found ‘fit for work’ only to die from heart disease days later (6).  Many people may be suffering from heart related conditions which limit the amount of work they can do, however they can now be mandated to undertake full time unpaid work, possibly in a BHF shop.

BHF recommend that for those diagnosed with a heart condition: “Your GP or heart specialist will help you decide when you are fit enough to return to work.”  Under MWA, claimants could be referred to workfare regardless of the opinion of their GP or other medical specialist.

I therefore wish to make a complaint on the following grounds:

1)  Workfare is unethical.  Workfare for those with health conditions even more so.  Can it really be considered acceptable that somebody with a heart condition could find themselves forced to work without pay in British Heart Foundation’s charity shops?  Stress is a well known aggravating factor in heart disease, and the constant threat of benefits sanctions and unpaid labour are hugely stressful for unemployed benefit claimants.  BHF themselves recommend that doctors, not jobcentres, are the best guide of whether someone with a heart condition is fit to work.

Even if BHF were able to screen out potential unpaid workers who may face health risks due to MWA, the charity’s involvement in the scheme implies an endorsement.  A charity such as BHF should not appear to support a government policy which is potentially detrimental to the health of those unemployed and diagnosed with heart conditions.  There is a clear conflict of interest between BHF’s desire to improve the health of those with a heart condition and the charity’s desire to gain free labour from workfare schemes.

I believe BHF’s use of workfare workers who may have diagnosed, or undiagnosed heart conditions, and the apparent endorsement of MWA, breaches Hallmark 1 of the Charity Commission’s Hallmarks of an Effective Charity which states: “An effective charity is clear about its purposes, mission and values and uses them to direct all aspects of its work.”

2) Whether an organisation uses workfare staff has become a major factor in whether people choose to donate to that charity.  BHF is evasive about the nature of their involvement.  The claim that all those working unpaid with BHF have agreed that their placement is “beneficial and appropriate” cannot be substantiated by facts and is contradicted by anecdotal evidence. Even if the conversation between shop managers and those referred to workfare takes place, the claimant is unable to provide an honest answer.  A claimant who tells the manager they don’t want to work in a BHF Shop will have benefits sanctioned.  Therefore no potential workfare staff can make the choice to “not take up a position” with BHF.

BHF’s statement gives a false impression of consent on behalf of workfare workers.  This Breaches Hallmark 6 of an Effective Charity which states: “An effective charity is accountable to the public and others with an interest in the charity in a way that is transparent and understandable.”

Please treat this letter as a formal complaint.  My attempt to speak to somebody on the telephone at BHF on this matter was unsuccessful despite numerous attempts.  Therefore should a response not be forthcoming within 28 working days I will refer the complaint to the Charity Commission.

Ta

johnny void

(1) http://www.bhf.org.uk/about-us/our-policies/our-shops/work-programme.aspx
(2) http://izzykoksal.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/workfare-at-the-british-heart-foundation/
(3) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jun/13/mandatory-work-scheme-government-research
(4) http://ssac.independent.gov.uk/pdf/MWA_report.pdf
(5) https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/workfare-must-not-lead-to-a-job-say-guidelines/
(6) http://www.birminghammail.net/news/birmingham-news/2012/07/04/birmingham-dad-dies-of-heart-condition-after-being-ruled-fit-for-work-97319-31317519/

48 responses to “Dear British Heart Foundation – a letter of complaint

  1. I did a work placement at my local bhf last year it was of no use to me the only thing i got out of it was i did not have to sit in the a4e all day
    one of the lads on placement was a crakedd he used to smoke it in the toilet at the bhf store!! the staff used to take most of the good stuff donated to the store for them self.. one good thing i bought a print of a picture for £7 sold it for £150

    • Buying stuff from BHF (as staff) with the intent to sell it has now got a whole paragraph in the manual which points out its against their rules.
      I didn’t gain anything useful from my time their either, I missed calls from agencies which could have resulted in jobs, went home exhausted and poorer than before. Staff buying a lot of the better stuff for themselves is pretty commonplace by the look of things then.

    • David Kinsella

      I visited British heart foundation Bedford Thursday 2nd April 2014
      and spotted an item that I wished to purchase and asked could
      they deliver item to my home 3 miles away and at the same time
      collect an item of furniture that I wish to donate to them free of
      charge, and after looking around the shop it was clear that the
      donated item would sell for around £130, which I have no problem
      with as am happy to support the charity, but what upset was
      the fact that the shop were insisting on charging me £10 to
      deliver the item although they were collecting donated item
      at the same time, I asked them could they not wave the delivery
      charge as I was not only buying an item from them, but also
      donating, but they would not budge on the delivery charge.
      Sadly I left the shop without purchasing the item and have now
      donated my furniture to another charity shop who are happy
      to collect free of charge….
      British heart foundation lost out on a sale that would have
      put £165 in the till, and I would not be left a nasty taste in
      my mouth

    • Donate to another charity

      No wonder they refused to take a perfectly good table with just required repainting. They advertise nationwide as taking unwanted furniture but are in fact picky on what they take. If the staff is helping themselves, that would explain it. They are supposed to be a charity but behave like a business whose sole aim is profit making, with near zero costs (as they get all their goods and labour almost for free). Stop donating to the British Heart Foundation and give instead to other charities who are actually helping people (but lack money to advertise nationwide) and not solely pursuing profits.

      • David Kinsella

        I have been a regular customer with British Heart Foundation Bedford
        since moving here 20 months ago, I downsized from 4 bed
        house to flat and donated 95% of my furniture which was only
        18 months old to my local BHF store , I have bought items from
        the store on at least 6 occasions in the last 12 months and always
        been happy to pay the delivery charge of £10 although I only live
        2 miles from store, but what upset me the other week is I [popped in
        to ask them to collect some items that I wished to donate, one
        of the items I was giving away would sell for over £130, which I
        Have no problem with , As I wa leaving the store I spotted an item I wished
        to purchas , I paid for it and asked could they drop the item off
        when the colllect the items I wa donating, I was flabbergasted
        when they insisted on charging me £15 to deliver item when they
        were coming to collect anyway.. I left the store with a nasy bitter
        taste in my mouth,, is this good customer relations.

  2. Pingback: Dear British Heart Foundation – a letter of complaint | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues | Scoop.it

  3. Wow I’m always in the BHF shopping (can’t afford new clothes, wonder if Card scheme will let me shop in charity shops ?)

    I am disgusted that the BHF are taking part in WorkFare bcus they will KNOW full well that the people sent their can’t say NO.

    But then n again we need to ask another question “When did charity stop being affordable” as charity shops where originally set up as a place for the poor to shop and the proceeds went to the Charity, but Charities are getting greedy, they charge a lot of money for certain items (name brand) clothing which prices it out of my pocket again.

    I once found a Primark dress that cost more in the BHF foundation than it was brand new in Primark !

    Also they have started to price match (cancer charity shops being THE most expensive) and now other’s moving up to par.

    So to now have the free FORCED labour of WorkFare workers knocks my stomach sick !

    Not only can the poor no longer afford to shop in charity shops they are using FORCED poor people to work for them !

    Its all wrong !

    I am glad you have written that letter and hope something is done about it.

    • I found myself wondering “How many of the shops run by the charity essentially only generate money to pay for the wages of the directors and such” I’d bet it takes 2 or 3 shops at least to cover just one of the highest staff members wage.
      I also never had the conversation with the manager over whether the placement was “appropriate or mutually beneficial” but i suspect that was because the manager knew I had no choice either way.

  4. Southport British Heart Foundation store is proudly celebrating their second birthday Over the last two years we have raised over £400,000 selling furniture and electrical goods to help fight heart disease and heart related illnesses.
    (over priced tat a lot of the stuff you could buy cheaper brand new) they also get brand new stuff from whole salers at a knock down price then bang it out at full price

  5. As if living under the constant fear of sanctions is good for anyone’s heart health. All these BHF cunts are doing is placing claimants hearts under constant stress and thus contributing to heart disease and needless deaths. BHF should be fucking ashamed of themselves. BHF are SCUM!!

  6. Great post. I have been sanctioned and had my job seekers benefits removed because my partner (a pensioner), earns £5 a month more than the limit. I am refusing to attend any workfare or A4E rubbish. While in this position. I spend my life as a councillor, school governor and Chairman of a charity. Sucks to them.

  7. Work it out correctly

    Your point is lost given that this is not workfare, it is work experiance. The examples you give about a retail qualified woman not benefitting is missing the whole point. She is gaining work expeiriance and clocking up time to be able to prove to an employer that she has recent experiance and to prove via a reference that she is worth a look at. This is what all potential candidates need to be able to prove who have not come through a back to work scheme. This will make her a competative candidate against anyone who has recently been in work or is looking to change jobs.

    If this is putting work experiance gainers under stress then how will they fair in a full time paying job? your arguement suggest that they wouldn’t be able to cope in a ‘normal job’

    It is emotive to say that they are placed there under threat of sanction. Why would anyone not want to get work experiance if they have been out of work for a significant amount of time and need some recent experiance to help sell themselves.
    They are still recieving benfit and housing support, their travel is paid for. They should not be out of pocket and they are helping themselves.
    No advisor is going to sanction a participant if they are working to help themselves get back on their feet.
    I don’t get your animosity towards this.

    • It is true to say that people are there under threat of sanction, if that is emotive then that’s hardly my fault. the evidence shows mandatory work activity does not help people find work. the SSAC even questioned whether MWA on a CV could have a negative effect and warn that time spend on workfare may impede people’s ability to actively seek work.

    • You seem to have conveniently missed the point. You have no objection to people who have been found unfit to work by their GP and Specialists, often with heart complaints, being erroneously found fit for work by Atos and then forced to attend compulsory work placements at a Heart Charity?

      You clearly also have no understanding of the sanctions regime. Over half a milion people were sanctioned last year, usually for the most insignificant of reasons, and many because they were simply too ill to attend.

      It is one way of keeping the unemployment figures looking better as those on sanctions are not counted as unemployed.

      The obvious point though is that if there were any real jobs out there, none of this ridiculous and costly scheme would be needed. People would simply be taken on to fill the vacancies and any training needed would be provided relevant to the job, as has always been the case until recent times.

      Why should the public subsidise the private sector to train its own workforce on schemes which are proven to be of little or no value and worse, may actually be impeding people from finding work? After all, if you are forced to work for 30 hours a week for a charity or a retail company, that leaves little time to job hunt and also reduces the need for companies to actually take on paid staff and thereby create proper full time jobs. It also has the handy side effect of driving down wages for those who are in employment.

    • “Work it out Correctly” – you are a clown, and what you say is pure Tory propaganda. You have been reading too much of the Daily Mail and been very gullible indeed.
      Work Experience is another word for Workfare – in other words Work for your Welfare. Its SLAVE LABOUR and nothing you say will change this. Any work experience which is not paid the national minimum wage and is under duress, is modern day slavery and the BHF are massive users of this kind of Slavery. People want to work, of course they do, but they dont want to be exploited and made to work full time for next to nothing, especially under the threat of total removal of life supporting benefits for non compliance.
      The BHF are singled out as an exploiter of workers, but many other so called charities and private companies are at it as well. It is not on, and it is exploitation on a massive scale of people who dont want to do it, and get no reward for doing it.
      Forced work with no reward is demeaning and belittling and this is the whole theme of this Tory Government’s back to work policy – work for no pay other than miserable amounts of benefit, and get sanctioned for refusal to comply.
      Properly paid jobs are what people want – not slave labour, and this scheme WILL get brought down, the more people get pissed off with it and join pressure groups like Boycott Workfare.
      These workfare utilising companies will be made to pay for their blatent abuse of people’s human rights. Its just a matter of time.

      • Work it out correctly

        Poor start to an discussion. It’s irrelevant what I have or haven’t been reading. Typical left wing hysterical attempt to discount any alternative views. Work fare is not a technical or factual description. It is a purely emotive made up word designed by the left to lay false negative connotations on any attempt to improve people’s lives.
        Any comparison with slavery is frankly vile. Slavery consisted of hundreds of thousands of deaths, families ripped apart and human suffering on a massive scale. The slave trade, is I suggest something you should read up on.
        You are comparing people in the uk, paid to exist, with multiple areas of support available to them, and every opportunity to survive and thrive, with every health related support acessible, with people forced to work for nothing, where death and physical harm was common place and whose only exit from slavery was death.
        Any comparison with this is frankly sick. I suggest you wake up and thank god for what you have and do yourself a favour and make good use with what you have at your disposal.

        Get some perspective, and do what the rest of the country does and look after yourself. Stop expecting others to do it for you. The Human rights argument is a non starter. Think about what you are saying!

        Ps there are loads of properly paid jobs. You have to work towards them. Work experience helps towards that. Just do it for long enough to get the experience you need.

        • Hmmm. Why are you so envious of the starvation benefit that people receive? I suggest you look at your underlying psychology. it is painfully obvious that workfare is a reality in this country and pointless for anyone with qualifications who have previously “work(ed) towards”
          a good job and career. Where does your lack of compassion come from?
          Or are you too lazy to think in a sophisticated and intelligent manner about government policy and it’s effects on people and society?
          Grow up!

          • Work it out correctly

            Typically trying to question the personal motivation rather than looking at the bigger picture of te points I make. Workfare as I have argued is an inaccurate term used to try and demonise an idea designed to support people. I have heard no other alternatives to back to work programmes other than create more jobs. How? And how do you expect to get people to fill them when they have the kind of angry and destructive attitudes that some on this forum present? Employers would run a mile when faced with some of the underlying animosity written on here.
            I do not lack compassion. I am tolerant of other peoples views, and do not resort to attacking people personally when presenting an arguement, but this is irrelevant anyway because it has no relevance to these points that we discuss.

    • Hey cunt, you try spending all day in a fucking BHF shop being shouted at and generally been treated like a piece of shit with constant treats that “all it takes is one ‘phone call and I will get your benefits stopped”. A worker all right will absolutely fuck all workers right, not even the right to be treated with fairness and respect; a human being with absolutely no human rights. Oh, and the right to a fair day’s pay. Or does that not concern you, afterall they are receiving JSA, you not like JOBSEEKERS Allowance, something never intended as a substitute for a WAGE! Why don’t YOU try it one day – thought not! Well , fuck right off you smarmy cunt!

      • Steven2011@lavabit.com

        Wellsaid mate! These workfare schemes are the reason I don’t sign-on even though I am unemployed. If this government was rational about the subject of unemployment and how to resolve it then they would design schemes to help unemployed people to find work. All the present schemes do is falsify the unemployment statistics and if they aren’t stopped soon then the more unemployed people will do as I have done (gone off the system). This may be good for a while for the government but if too many do it and for too long the economy will one day totally collapse and there will be nothing the government will be able to do about it.

        If I was forced to do these worthless workfare schemes, I would do eveything humanly possible to be a nuisance and to fuck things up.

      • You have a lot of anger. Maybe you should address that and you may find that you are treated better by others. I’d also look at your sentence construction. It pays to make sense when arguing a point.

      • Work it out correctly

        Nice. Your attitude is why you are experiencing what you are. Try mellowing a little and see how your life eases up. No one is treated like a piece of *****.

    • This the same old shite that the DWP and “provider” cunts come out with: “Why wouldn’t someone want “help?”, “Why would someone turn down an “opportunity?”. What a load of shite!

      • Work it out correctly

        Why wouldn’t they. Are you suggesting people don’t want help and prefer to continue on the same trajectory? It’s goes against logic and human nature that someone would not want to improve their lot. Unless this is confirmation that the system does encourage people living on benefits because it’s easy (which I doubt) as your argument suggests.

    • What experience does working in a charity shop selling tat provide that’s so essential that bypassing human rights and dignity is acceptable? Can’t people be helped to find proper decent work and not made to work for nothing?

    • Work It Out Correctly – pay heed to what the other posters have replied or are you just a ‘post it and run’ type?
      I have long term health problems. I have done much voluntary work in the past, some of it in a charity shop. It gave me work experience. But the clue is in the word ‘voluntary’. That is exactly what voluntary work should be, giving dignity and allowing those choosing to donate their time freely an element of control over their work. Forced voluntary work is a contradiction which undermines the whole concept and value of voluntary work and degrades it.

  8. Great work Johnny.

    By the way, how does the fact that in order to be a “registered charity”, there must be no political purpose or bias to the work carried out, fit with charities’ involvement in the work programme? Surely carrying out a much disputed and potentially illegal government policy is definitely fulfilling a political role and purpose and as such does not fulfill the criteria needed to be a bona fide registerable charity.

    It seems many charities need to be referred to the Charities Commission to have their status removed because they are in fact acting outside their remit and acting as agents for government employment policies, often against the interests of those they are meant to serve.

  9. BHF will have a very large bill to pay for wages owed at some point in the future, as will every other company involved in the blatant illegal exploitation that is Workfare and MWA.

  10. something survived...

    The workfare seems to match people to the least suitable jobs and only sends you to things you don’t want to do. (Vegetarian —-> Abattoir)

    Today somebody said something. She wanted to be self employed running courses for people and making things. So she approached the Jobcentre and asked them if they would send her ‘volunteers’ if they have to go on something. She would get a job as their boss and tutor, in exchange for days of digging they would get free outdoors survival, sports and traditional skills lessons. The Jobcentre said no, and also made her get rid of her existing volunteers. One said he WANTED to do digging all day!
    Right after this, he got put on Workfare in a Charity Shop. He didn’t want to, so messed around and behaved badly till he got sacked. [and presumably lost his benefits] (Those guys making the wardrobe in the article by the way: did they have skills? Training? Supervision? How does anyone know they will not, deliberately or through ineptitude, make a dangerous rickety wardrobe that collapses and crushes someone?)

    But most recently, her partner became terminally ill and she had to be her fulltime carer so could not work. She applied for disability benefits and ESA for her dying partner but was refused. She was refused Carers Allowance, and was not herself ill so could not get ESA even though it is meant to cover the old Income Support as well as Incapacity Benefit. BOTH were put on JSA and told to go for jobs. Then the partner’s JSA got stopped because of something like ‘not doing enough to find work’. And her JSA got stopped completely for ages because of voluntarily making herself a carer of an unrelated person, and unavailable for work. Even though it was her PARTNER. (apparently despite years of legislation no lesbian or gay relationship really counts as a relationship, and is not 100% equal to a straight couple’s rights.) [Funnily enough if you marry a RELATED person, you are committing marriage fraud and incest!] They were both left with nothing, and she looked after her partner till she died. Right up to then, the council and jobcentre kept harrassing them about getting jobs/being scroungers even after they took the benefits away. The partner has just died, and they expect her to go straight into a (nonexistent) job. (“only heterosexuals are allowed to grieve”)

    I know of people like mainly married heterosexual couples, where one died but was then pursued after their death by the authorities about failing to turn up for Signing On. Letters often keep on coming addressed to the dead person and giving/threatening sanctions. Or your ‘household changed’ (yeah Council, my partner DIED) so your Housing Benefit gets cut or stopped or you actually get evicted (or are ‘told to move to single accommodation’), often right after it happens.

    Ideas if this happens: Make an appeal in the name of the dead person (after all they have a go at them for their strange ‘failure to respond’ to
    the numerous letters addressed to them). DON’T send the original death certificate: 1)They may well lose it.
    2)Or they’ll pass it around and laugh.
    When they call the dead person in, bring the dead person in! (You are insisting I am alive, demanding I attend, so okay here I am, I’m dead as you can see. I probably died at least in part of this common disease called the government, in particular the jobcentre plus and the workfare.
    What job would you like me to apply for today? Helicopter pilot? Acrobat?
    Flower arranger? Concert pianist? Since I died I have had a lot of time on my hands. I was just saying to the worms, this government is absolutely right, being dead and lying about decomposing all day is no way to behave. And no excuse for not getting up and getting a job. So I’m coming to sign on, sorry about the smell…)
    If anyone asks (requires chest freezer and vehicle) why you brought a corpse, explain that they are up till now unable to tell the difference, that a dead jobseeker is still a jobseeker and has been ordered to participate in mandatory work related activity.

    “‘Work until you die’ is too soft on them, they should work forever.”
    Said Ian Duncan Smith, stroking a cat, which promptly turned around and bit him. (And then had to spit out the nasty taste of the unidentified substance which might have been a) earwax b)embalming fluid c)acid
    d)strychnine e)Ian Duncan Smith.)

    Ian Duncan Smith
    Died quite some time ago
    And hasn’t realised it yet

  11. I cant seem to figure out where all this money these charity’s raise goes. Unless it goes to pay the directors!

  12. soon to be deceased

    In this ConDemNation, Death stalks us all.
    IDS has unleashed the grim reaper to stalk the land this winter.
    It is fertile ground for its swinging scythe.
    IDS smiles.
    His time has come at last, this rough beast slouching towards our doorways.

  13. Johnny, if you’re gonna keep you using that picutre for articles about BHF, can’t you photoshop it in some way to make me look a bit thinner (I’m the portly fella in the middle)?
    Just a minor quibble – another spot-on article about sickening hypocrisy within BHF (not the only ones in the charitable sector who have stuck their noses in the workfare trough).

  14. Great stuff Johnny.

  15. http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-welfare-reform-death-scandal-3
    Please sign and share this petition widely. The numbers dying are thought to be even higher than when we started it.

  16. No, Work it Out Correctly- i could write quite an erudite piece regarding what may be a better alternative, or not; like you,I do not have all the answers. However, I am seriously ill so do not have the required energy or motivation to answer your rather haughty response to me. Rather, I appeal to your common sense and by the way, you do lack compassion. Compassion is a sophisicated tool that allows society to function at a higher level than it would otherwise do. Weigh it up.

  17. Having managed a charity shop and knowing people who ran the above I can vouch that workforce staff did have to work – although some said they were given a choice of where they worked from the job centre. Generally the workforce people stayed four weeks and moved on which did not help the shop much as quite a few took this long to train up – it was very stressful for the staff. Many people did obviously not want to work but a few were really good workers and I wish we could have given them paid jobs. Unfortunately the chance of getting a job in the charities is minimal and you cannot get NVQ’s for such a short period. Exceptional people with good personalities and who pick things up quickly did go on to get jobs because they had learnt till work. With regard to anyone with a heart condition. If this was explained at the beginning they would be given a very easy job to do. However, we were sent people who were at risk because of the environment itself and the nature of the work i.e. sharp objects, overcrowded work areas, too cold for some, things all over the floor. The work could also be very tiring physically as it involves lifting and carrying in some instances, steaming and sorting bags/books. Again though if someone has a condition this is worked around. What we did find was that it was hard to get volunteers – everyone was looking for a paid job and that is probably why reciprocal arrangements came about with those not working. It does give an indication of those who don’t want to learn anything, those who are lazy and those who are genuinely trying to work towards getting a job. Definitely not a job for shirkers! It is the hardest job I have ever done and I volunteered for five years. Great fun though!

  18. Pingback: British Heart Foundation Are Out of Some Workfare – But Announcement Leaves More Questions Than Answers | the void

  19. I was a manager for the British Heart Foundation and I would very much be against the idea of gaining cheap labour. Thank goodness I now work for another charity. How about providing paid jobs, or at least if on a placement pay a real wage! The big companies are taking advantage of the unemployed, if they can find the room for placements why not instead provide a real position and pay!!! I wonder why this is not obvious to some possibly brainwashed by the media and propaganda of those of whom profit from schemes such as this. We could actually debate MP expenses for starters – taxpayers money? No instead blame the unemployed tut tut!

  20. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and
    found that it’s really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.
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  21. I work at british hart foundation at westgate Bradford but because I am not English the manger said I have to work 20 hours aweek then they will pay me bus fair.i work for free.but they do pay other English people.my name is jawaid hashmi

  22. I am jawaid hashmi today is 09 09 2013 but answer yet from any one at british hart foundation

  23. Can, anybody tell me how anyone on minimum wage can afford to eat following the recommended BHF diet, I was advised by the hospital after having a stent fitted to follow the BHF Diet unfortuneatly food is not available on prescription!
    Also are you ( the BHF) really sure the this is the correct food to eat, some things such as white bread etc?

  24. I have worked for the BHF, as a volunteer, for over a year. It has not been beneficial in getting me a job, although I like it. I am a nuclear physicist and engineering and physics lecturer. But there may be a chance of a part time sales assistant working for the BHF on minimum wage. However I would be worse off than being on benefits.£96 per week, before tax, is not really a wage. Why do the BHF pay their workers minimum wage? It makes no sense. Our shop takes around £1,500 a day. OK the rent is high, but there are 3 full time staff members but 30 volunteers. The volunteers get free tea and coffee and discount on items they can’t really afford, as they are on benefits. There are some wealthy volunteers who work weekends and buy loads of discounted gear. While the rest of us struggle to buy lunch. Go figure.

  25. This is a terrible top down system that masquerades as trying to help the hopelessly unemployed. There is clear exploitation going on here from the BHF company if this is still going on.

    They know the people are volunteering to try and get full paid or part time paid work or a genuine retail qualification and yet many of their Volunteers feel like spare parts that are not part of a team at all. The Volunteer should not have to beg to be put on the NVQ Course, the one they are promised on the induction, along with the possibility of being offered a job before anyone applying from the street.

    The truth is if you don’t beg for the NVQ course you don’t get offered one. Simple. You have to compete with other Volunteers who are putting in 36 hours a week along with Saturdays for absolutely nothing and still they are not sure they will get taken on. But surely, they would not be filling in so many hours if they thought otherwise. This is clear manipulation..

    The fact that the DWP are involved with them sends shivers down my back. This is supposed to be a charity. Its all a big political scandal that that needs to be addressed. I am sure the full picture of what is going on will go public soon.

    I just hope the British Heart Foundation start acting like a charity and not an agency for the government to herd the unemployed and sick in to its stores for free labour.

    They should honour the Volunteer after all they are giving up their time for the charity and should be treated with respect and given every opportunity to succeed in life.

    Tyke

  26. Turns out it’s not gotten any much better. My sister started volunteering on Monday, because she’s job seeking and thought this would provide great experience. She came back Tuesday afternoon because they had ignored her, didn’t set her any tasks, didn’t show her how to do anything and were rude when they actually did address her. Because she’s not doing it as part of JSA she’s under no obligation to go back, and certainly won’t be, but it still pisses me off so much that they think they can treat people like that.

  27. please do not show that because it upsets me

  28. British Heart Foundation stopped taking in people on community work placement and other scheme’s from 2012….hahahahahahahahahahahah.

    This is the email I sent to BHF last week (editied for names, etc):

    To whom it may concern,

    After looking on your website it state’s the following on the work experience page:

    We are no longer involved in the Mandatory Work Activity scheme, the Work Programme, or the Community Work Programme.
    We have a partnership with Job Centre Plus to actively promote volunteering as an option for anyone who is unemployed and wants to gain work experience. We do not take on anyone whose benefits could be affected by their placement with us.

    As someone who is currently on the Community Work Programme scheme I would like to inform you that I was placed in your Woolwich Shop at 10 Powis Street, SE18 6LF. The manager of the Store is (Editied).

    I started on Friday 6th November 2015 and my last day was Tuesday 5th January 2016 (last day due to injuring my right arm while having to lift heavy tubs/crates as I was the only youngish man in the store and now suffer from Tennis Elbow).

    On my first day at the store I was told that we (as in people on the community work placement scheme) were not supposed to be there but they needed the people as they don’t have enough volunteers. I was then made to fill in the volunteer forms.

    Whilst at the shop, there was myself and 3 other people there from Ixion (the company that find placements for the people sent to the them from job centre plus).

    On my last day at the shop I could not use my right arm due to my injury, I informed (editied -Manager) of this and asked if I could go home and call my Doctor so that I could make an emergency appointment. (Editied-Manager)informed me that no, I could not go home, that I would have to stay for the rest of the day and that I would also have to attend until midday the following day due to her having her area manager coming round and that the area manager wanting to speak to us “volunteers”.

    I immediately contacted one of the personnel at Ixion, informed them of the situation and they advised me to go home and call my doctor and that they would call (editied-Manager) back asap and let her know. After receiving the call from Ixion, (editied-Manager) came round to me and told me that I should never go round her again. I then left the building. After seeing the Doctor I was signed off all work for 2 weeks due to suffering from Tennis Elbow in my right arm due to over lifting/strain.

    Before you ask, yes I did read the health and safety pamphlets, and I have previous experience of lifting. I had just come back from 2 weeks off over Christmas and found that there was a large amount of items that needed to be taken from the 1st floor, down the steep flight of stairs and out into the back yard to be put into the relevant creates. This was due to the other male person from Ixion finishing his placement at the British Heart Foundation shop in Woolwich, Powis Street on or about Monday 21st December 2015.

    All the containers at the time were fairly large and there were no smaller containers to split the items into. I took my time lifting/carrying the containers and taking short breaks in-between. I took all practical steps whilst moving all the items from the 1st floor, down the flight of steps, down to the back yard and putting the items into the relevant creates.

    I am no longer placed at the British Heart Foundation shop in Woolwich. Apparently I was no longer welcome/needed at the store.
    Also (edited-Manager) told Ixion that I did not suffer the injury whilst working at store, which I can assure you I did.

    I have popped into the shop since leaving (due to having to get an incomplete time sheet signed) and found that they have 4 people from Ixion working there.

    To have my placement confirmed at the store, here at the contact details of Ixion:

    (editied)

    So basically I am reporting that she still has and currently does source people who are on the community work placement scheme from Ixion, with the full knowledge that the British Heart Foundation does not take people on who are on the scheme.

    Also I would like to report that whilst under (editied-Manager) care at the British Heart Foundation, I in my own opinion was not allowed to seek proper access to medical care (as in not allowing me to leave the building, go home and contact my Doctor – as I don’t have my doctors number on my mobile phone).

    I have spoken to other people at Ixion who are also on the work placement scheme and it appears that some of the other stores in South East London are also sourcing people who are on the work placement scheme in from Ixion as well.

    I am informing you of this as I do believe that your charity does a lot of good for people with heart problems, I’ve had family and friends who have suffered from heart problems and I am finding that (editied-Manager) is bringing your companies image and message into disrepute, as well as her being a manager, as she clearly isn’t showing your company in any form of a good light.

    If at all possible I would like a reply with what’s being done by your self’s in regards to rectifying this issue/problem.

    Yours Sincerely,

    (editied).

    Not holding my breath for a reply.

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