Tag Archives: Streatham Jobcentre

Streatham Jobcentre Besieged By Protesters Demanding No Forced Treatment

no-forced-treatmentAround 100 people marched on Streatham Jobcentre today in a fantastic start to the fight against forced psychological treatments for unemployed, sick and disabled claimants.

Protesters gathered in Streatham Memorial Gardens with many carrying banners showing the growing anger at the collaboration of mental health workers and charities with the DWP’s workfare and benefit sanctions regime.  At just after 2pm the protest took to the streets, taking over the busy road before fnally arriving outside the Jobcentre which now also contains much of Lambeth’s mental health services.

The ever present G4S security guards blocked campaigners from entering the Jobcentre, with one member of staff informing the amused crowd that there were no jobs available today.  What bungling Jobcentre workers didn’t realise is that several people were already inside the building where they proceeded to disrupt the opening party of the so-called Living Well Network Hub and hung a banner out of the window to large cheers from the crowd.

The message from those present was clear.  The threatened forced psychological treatments pledged in the Tory Manifesto will be fought every step of the way – and any charities or healthcare professionals who collaborate with this unethical practice will also be held to account.  The re-locating of vast swathes of local mental health services in the Jobcentre building was also the target of anger – a move carried out without any public consultation and which suggests a chilling future for mental health service delivery in Lambeth.

According to The Guardian, the DWP are now denying that Streatham will be one of the pilot areas for the upcoming scheme which will eventually see therapists stationed in 350 Jobcentres.  Apparently the department made a mistake when they said this would be the case.  South London and Maudsley NHS Trust are also spinning fast, claiming there are no plans for ‘formal’ links between the new Living Well Network Hub and the Jobcentre.

A press release by homelessness charity Thamesreach, who are part of the network of agencies running the project, reveals a very different story however.  According to them the Hub brings together voluntary sector providers, GPs, psychiatrists, nurses, occupational therapists and social workers with Streatham Jobcentre Plus staff.  The intention, according to the charity, is “specialist mental health services operating alongside Jobcentre Plus Staff” with the  “common goal of improving health and well-being and helping people to get back to, or stay in, work.”  And that is why the project was recently visited by not just Iain Duncan Smith, but the former DWP Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper.  They must think we are fucking idiots if they expect us to believe this is all just some big coincidence.

The protest was called by the Mental Health Resistance Network, whilst campaigners were also present from Kilburn Unemployed Workers, Boycott Workfare and Disabled People Against Cuts.  Those speaking at the protest warned this was just the beginning.  Forced treatment, of any kind, for anybody, will be ferociously resisted.  And therapists, charities and mental health workers should get the fuck out of Jobcentres and refuse to participate in DWP attempts to rebrand unemployment as a psychological defect.

Boycott Workfare will be back on the streets tomorrow for the day of action against workfare exploiters B&M Stores, check their website for details.

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Unemployment Is Not Caused By Unemployed People: Keep The Psychocrats Out Of Jobcentres

When I click my fingers you will wake up, and all your benefits will have been stopped.

When I click my fingers you will wake up, and all your benefits will have been stopped.

There are some things which need nipping in the bud.  Forced psychological treatment for unemployed people is one of them.  As is the attempt by the DWP to reframe unemployment as a psychological defect or the result of a ‘negative’ attitude.

Unemployment is caused by a lack of jobs.  According to the Office for National Statistics, there are currently 1.81 million unemployed people of working age.  In addition to this there are 2.34 million people who are economically inactive and want a job, but do not meet the strict definition of unemployed.  This just means they either haven’t actively looked for a job in the last four weeks or would be unable to start a job within two weeks.  There are also 1.44 million people who are working part time because they could not find a full time job.  That’s over five and a half million people who are under-employed or out of work completely.

Even this doesn’t tell the full story.  There is a growing number of people on sickness or disability benefits, as well as lone parents with children under 5, who are expected to prepare and look for work.  There are people over pensionable age who are looking for jobs, as well as college and even school students.  There are those who’ve dropped through the gaps altogether and neither feature in the counts of people claiming benefits or are likely to fill in the Labour Force Survey from which the unemployment figures are drawn.  There are 86,000 prisoners,  waiting to join the dole queue on their release.

Equally importantly there is now a European wide labour market.  This does not necessarily decrease the overall supply of jobs – immigration also creates jobs, you only need to step into a Polish supermarket to see that.  But it does mean that the millions of people in the UK looking for jobs are joined by many more from overseas.  There is ample evidence of greedy employers only advertising jobs in Eastern Europe as they know they can get away with offering lower wages.  Despite triumphant Tory claims that there are more people in work than ever before, the number of people born in the UK with jobs actually fell slightly in the latest quarter.

All of these people, millions in the UK alone, are chasing just 734,000 vacancies – and the number of  jobs available also fell during the last period.  Of course people in work, who are looking to change jobs, are also chasing those vacancies.  To suggest, when work is so scarce, that unemployment is caused by unemployed people, is offensive and absurd.  The truth is that the tiny minority who don’t want a job, who may be carers, volunteers, artists or just too ill to work, are doing everyone else a favour.  If you don’t agree then why not give up your own job so someone unemployed can take it.

On Friday a demonstration is due to be held in Streatham where mental health workers are to be brought into the Jobcentre.  The Government aplans to introduce Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) therapists into 350 Jobcentres as well providing online Cognitive Behavior Therapy to unemployed, sick and disabled people.  They announced before the election that they soon intend to force some claimants to undergo psychological treatment or their benefits will be stopped.  This will require significant changes in the law and a Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech.  This is not a done deal, there is still time to fight it, and that fight begins on Friday.

Please help spread the word about this protest and come if you can.  Already happy-clappy DWP managers are turning Jobcentres into cults, wittering on endlessly about being positive whilst actually making everyone feel like shit.  Behind the scenes shadowy ‘behavioral insight’ teams are dreaming up yet more harassment of unemployed people based on the flimsiest of evidence.  The rise of the Psychocrat, using psychological therapies to control, not cure, must be halted.  A defiant and well attended demonstration this Friday is vital, to show the DWP that this is a line we will not let them cross.

The facebook page for Fridays protest is at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1632671646970164/  Please share, tweet, blog and make sures everyone knows this is taking place and why.

An important paper by Dr Lynne Friedli and Robert Stearn has also recently been published which explores the role of coercion and psychology in welfare-to-work and workfare schemes, you can read it at: http://mh.bmj.com/content/41/1/40.full

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Iain Duncan Smith’s First Re-Education Centre To Open In Streatham Jobcentre

my-jobStreatham Jobcentre is to become the home of Iain Duncan Smith’s first Re-Education Centre where teams of gormless Jobcentre workers, psychiatrists, social workers and voluntary sector busy-bodies will team up to bully people with a mental health condition into low paid shit jobs as part of their ‘recovery’.

The South London Jobcentre already contains a Living Well Community Hub* where specialist mental health services operating alongside Jobcentre Plus 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.”  This is to be joined by a new Increased Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) team who, along with Jobcentre staff, will attempt to fix unemployed people with Cognitive Behavior Therapy and when that doesn’t work probably just stop their benefits.

With forced psychological treatment already threatened for those claiming social security, and moves to increase information sharing powers between Jobcentres and other agencies, these new centres represent the end of mental health services that people who are poor can actually trust.  From now on only the naive or inexperienced will feel confident being open and honest with therapeutic staff knowing that a Jobcentre Work Coach is just next door waiting to sanction their benefits.  Jobcentre staff, health assessors and charities have already been weaponised against unemployed, sick or disabled people, now nurses and psychiatric workers are also to be drafted into the unceasing war on the poor.

A consensus has emerged amongst politicians, charity bosses and think tanks that unemployment, homelessness or living in poverty are themselves evidence of psychological defects.  That if you are unable to find a job – or even worse don’t want one – then there must be something wrong with you, something that can be fixed.  And if you are unemployed because you are sick, then becoming employed will cure you.  It is utter fucking horseshit and flies in the face of the reality of a low pay economy where work is often bad for your health and four million people are chasing 700,000 jobs.

Those at the top of the Tory Party know what’s really going on.  That this is really a blueprint to demolish the welfare state and normalise both unpaid work and desperate poverty for those who can’t find a job.  That this will create the kind of ultra-competitive and savage society that bosses want to force down the wages and working conditions of everyone.  All Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are really about is just another wealth grab that will consolidate the power of the capitalist class – the bankers, landlords and business owners who once again think they fucking own us.  And if anyone complains that our entire lives consist of nothing more then ceaseless, boring work to increase the wealth of the rich then they will be seen as deviant, in need of forced psychiatric treatment.  Or left to starve.  Either way they will be ‘helped’ to understand that poverty paid monotonous labour is good for you, and will make you happy and free.

A mass protest has been called by the Mental Health Resistance Network against the new Re-education Centre and which will march on Streatham Jobcentre on Friday June 26.  Meet at 1:30pm in Streatham Memorial Garden, more details on facebook, please share and spread the word!

*It comes as no surprise to find homelessness charity Thamesreach at the heart of this initiative, recently even welcoming Iain Duncan Smith himself to visit their Community Options Team in the new centre.  Thamesreach’s strategy to end homelessness has long been to make the lives of homeless people as difficult as possible in the hope that this will cure them.  This is the so-called charity that warns people not to give money to beggars because they are all druggies, that thinks increasing the price of Special Brew will stop people being alcoholics, that has teams of outreach workers harassing homeless migrants by telling them to go back to where they came from and who teamed up with Tory Westminster Council in their failed attempt to criminalise feeding homeless people.  Whilst Thamesreach has been pursuing these policies the number of street homeless people has doubled in the capital.  You can see why they would get along with Iain Duncan Smith whose attempts to fix poverty by making the poor poorer have only succeeded in creating more poverty.

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