You might have thought that Thamesreach, as one of London’s largest homelessness charities, would be savage in their criticism of the current housing policies at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). You might have expected outrage at the extension of right to buy, the slashing of housing benefits and the decimation of council housing with secure tenancies and genuinely affordable rents. You would have assumed, at the very least, they would have something to say about new rules being introduced which could see up to 95% of social housing sold in some boroughs.
Sadly however, Thamesreach have remained silent whilst the DCLG have gone about smashing up the social housing sector in London. One reason for this compliance is likely to be the significant funding the department has given the charity to set up an Employment Academy in Southwark to combat so-called ‘worklessness’ amongst homeless people.
To be clear, anyone who uses the word ‘worklessness’ when they mean unemployment, is a cunt. The only purpose of this term is to stigmatise those who cannot find a job and attempt to blame unemployed people for unemployment. And Thamesreach use this nasty little slur over and over again in their gushing promotion of their latest tax-payer funded gravy train.
According to the charity their Employment Academy is “helping thousands of unemployed and economically disadvantaged people find employment in the capital.” The truth is not quite so dramatic. Elsewhere Thamesreach admit that just 114 people have found work through the project so far. Which for s service which claims to have up to 1800 users a month is remarkably shit.
It is unclear how involved the DWP are in the Employment Academy although the charity do allude to a partnership with Jobcentres and the Work Programme. Thamesreach are known for their cosy relationships with DWP Ministers including Iain Duncan Smith himself who recently visited one of their other projects in Streatham. The charity are also notorious for their attacks on the most marginalised, such as supporting Westminster Council’s failed attempt to make it illegal to give food to homeless people, perhaps one of the pettiest and most spiteful laws proposed in recent history. They were one of the first organisations to launch a high profile anti-begging campaign claiming that if you give money to homeless people it will kill them and have even been involved in closing down squats in co-ordination with the police and UK Border Authority. Perhaps most astonishingly they support ‘encouraged’ repatriation of non-UK born homeless people as well as grassing up migrants who might be working illegally.
An organisation whose policies would not be out of place in the BNP’s manifesto can simply not be trusted at a time when the government is turning their attention to sick and disabled benefit claimants with the threat of compulsory treatment. So it is alarming that Southwark Coouncil have recently decided to locate mental health services inside Thamesreach’s Employment Academy in the form of their Living Well Hub. This follows a similar decision by Lambeth who faced protests after situating their Living Well Hub inside Streatham Jobcentre “where specialist mental health services operating alongside JCP (Jobcentre) staff are working together towards a common goal of improving health and well-being and helping people to get back to, or stay in, work.” That’s according to Thamesreach by the way, who are also involved in the Lambeth hub.
A protest called by Mental Health Resistance Network is being held this week outside Thamesreach’s Employment Academy demanding that there should be no attempt to replace mental health treatment with benefits removal and sanctions. It is vital to establish a line which must not be crossed, by local authorities, charities, welfare-to-work companies or any other organisation with their snout in the welfare reform trough. The protest has already been a success – the launch party of Streatham’s Living Well Centre which was to coincide with the demonstration has already been called off. Mental Health Resistance Network will be there anywhere, join them this Wednesday 9th December – meet at noon outside the Employment Academy, 29 Peckham Rd, London SE5 8UA or gather on Camberwell Green from 11.15am to march there together. Please help spread the word.
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