Tag Archives: Volunteering

Join The Sue Ryder Rolling Online Picket and Help Stop Workfare!

workfare-protestBREAKING NEWS: Sue Ryder have said they will begin a ‘phased withdrawal’ from the Government’s mandatory workfare schemes.

via Boycott Workfare

Join an online, rolling picket of workfare exploiters Sue Ryder.

Starts: Now
Ends: When Sue Ryder pull out of all forms of workfare.

Since Sue Ryder became the first and only UK charity to admit they will use claimants on sickness and disability benefits as forced unpaid workers hundreds of people have contacted them to express disgust at their activities.

This followed the revelation that Sue Ryder are part of the Mandatory Work Activity scheme and also accepted free workers on the Community Action Programme. This is one of the nastiest workfare schemes which involves 720 hours forced unpaid work simply for being unemployed. This is over twice the maximum Community Service punishment which can be handed out by the Courts.

Sue Ryder are unrepentant about their use of mass workfare and have even boasted about how much money it makes them!  In a Question and Answer response to online criticism they sought to justify this by claiming people forced to work their shops under threat of poverty and destitution are ‘volunteers’.

We urgently need to keep up the pressure and ensure that Sue Ryder know exactly what the public think about forced unpaid work. Join the hundreds of people who have already said they will boycott the charity and send a message not just to Sue Ryder, but to any other charity considering the Government’s vile offer of forced free labour carried out by sick and disabled claimants.

Contact info

Telephone: 0845 050 1953 (they also have a freephone number for shopping online at: 0800 917 8123)

General contact form
There well staffed PR office can be reached on: alice.clements@suerydercare.org
To let them know you no longer wish to donate use: paul.martin@suerydercare.org
To find locations and contact details for individual shops visit

Sue Ryder have a youtube channel here
Join the facebook bombardment and tweet their main account @sue_ryder (people have been using the hashtag #shameonsue)

Sue Ryder shops with individual twitter accounts include: @SRReadingRetro, @SRHeadingley, @SueRyderVintage, @SueRyderKH, @SueRyderWinch, @suerydervandr@SueRyderSandbac, @Sueryderlitmoor, @SRHaworth1, @SRBrockworth, @SRyderDewsbury, @SueRyderLiscard, @SueRyderMond, @SueRyderFarrell, @SueRyderMoreton

SueRyder shops with active facebook pages include:
(search for “sue ryder” shop on facebook to find more)

Scott Arms Birmingham
South West
Arklow
Reading
Leicester
Pimlico
Bourton on the Water

We urge people not to contact hospices run by the charity or clinical/care staff. This is about ending workfare, not disrupting people’s care.

Whilst it’s well worth trying to speak to a manager or senior individual if possible please bear in mind most people taking calls/emails will be low paid retail/admin staff and could even be on workfare themselves. Be aware that is an offence to make telephone calls or send communications which are threatening, indecent or offensive.

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on March 18th: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1996

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Some Workfare Workers Will Be Violent and Aggresive Warn DWP

Some people sent to work for charities by the Jobcentre are likely to behave violently and aggressively the DWP have warned companies tasked with finding work placements.

The stark warning comes in the newly revised Provider Guidance for the Government’s Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme.  This document outlines the rules of the scheme to private contractors such as A4e.  These companies pick up lucrative fees for every person they place in an in unpaid work placement.  Thousands of people have been sent to work for four weeks without pay in charity shops and other community projects.  Those who refuse or fail to turn up face increasingly brutal benefit sanctions.

Charity bosses will be horrified to learn that the DWP warn:

“You may experience a wide range of behaviour from the customer group referred to MWA. This may include those customers who exhibit difficult, aggressive, or sometimes violent behaviour. However, you cannot select the customers with whom you work. Generic guidance provides further details.”

The Generic Guidance is the rules which apply across all welfare to work contracts with the DWP and can be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/supplying-dwp/what-we-buy/welfare-to-work-services/provider-guidance/framework-generic-guidance.shtml

Of most concern is that this document reveals:

“Participants will not be excluded on the basis of potentially violent or inappropriate behaviour (e.g. racial or sexual verbal assault, foul language or the issuing of threats, or in the event that the participant refuses to engage).”

At this point it is critical to point out that benefit claimants are no more likely to be violent, aggressive, racist or sexually abusive than any other potential employees.

This is something that employers usually mitigate with CRB checks, interviews and references from former employers.  The key point here is that none of these checks have been made by either the DWP or welfare-to-work companies when referring people to workfare.

Often the charities happy to exploit people on workfare have not even interviewed potential staff.  The welfare-to-work company and the Jobcentre are the only people who have had previous contact with the claimant.

Welfare-to-work companies only get paid if they secure someone a placement with a charity.  The rules state that they must not turn anyone down.  Can companies like A4e really be trusted to throw away lucrative payments by warning charities that a potential worker has previously displayed threatening, sexually abusive or racist behaviour?

Universal Credit Will Destroy Volunteering And Charities Only Have Themselves To Blame

A major charity for volunteers have warned that Universal Credit, the flagship welfare reform being introduced next year, will restrict volunteering.

Volunteering England are one of the largest organisations in the UK established to promote and ‘celebrate’ volunteering.  It was reported over the weekend that the organisation have already been contacted by several charities concerned about the new benefits system and how it will impact on their ability to recruit and employ volunteers.

Under the new rules, claimants will only be permitted to volunteer for 17.5 hours a week, or will face brutal benefit sanctions. Claimants are to be expected to spend 35 hours a week actively seeking work, of which only half of this time can be spent volunteering. This flies in the face of previous statements by this Government which have sung the praises of unpaid work.  Only unpaid work which has been arranged for benefit claimants by the state or welfare to work parasites like A4e is now to be acceptable.

Mandatory Work Activity is at the heart of Universal Credit and means 30 hours a week unpaid work for charities or other organisations with a ‘community benefit’. As the name suggests, this workfare scheme cannot be volunteered for and is used as punishment should someone be deemed not trying hard enough to find a job by Jobcentre officials.

Astonishingly someone caught volunteering full time whilst claiming Universal Credit could be sent to go and volunteer full time somewhere else as punishment for volunteering full time. Not for the first time Iain Duncan Smith’s back of the envelope welfare reforms are as laughable as they are draconian.

In a somewhat garbled statement on their website, Volunteering England seem to misunderstand the nature of the benefits system by suggesting that only those in the “all work related requirements” group will be subject to the new rules. This is likely to be the largest group of claimants making up all those currently claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance along with those judged ‘fit for work’ by the callous and shambolic Atos disability denial system for sick and disabled claimants.

Whilst Volunteering England are correct about who the rules will apply to, they are wrong to say that those claimants paid the sickness or disability components of Universal Credit “will still be free to volunteer as much as they want.”   The reality of the benefits system is that anyone who volunteers full time whilst claiming the sickness or disability component of Universal Credit will have it used against them to judge them ‘fit for work’. This has long been standard practice at the DWP, even under the old Incapacity Benefit regime. Bizarrely once judged fit for work, they will no longer be allowed to volunteer full time. Unless the Government orders them to.

The end of full time volunteers will prove catastrophic for the charitable sector.  Even if charities exploit the never ending workfare schemes to source volunteers, they will find that genuine volunteers, who care about the aims and activities of the charity will disappear.  Instead these most motivated of workers will be replaced by short term workfare staff only there under threat of benefit sanctions.

For charities working with ex-offenders, homeless people, substance misusers or other disadvantaged groups, volunteers are often a vital link between the university educated charity professionals, and those they aim to support.  Simply having someone on the team who has ‘been there’ and understands the problems facing service users can make a huge difference.

Often these volunteers go on to establish careers in the voluntary sector themselves, a route into work which will now be denied for all but those who can afford to support themselves financially whilst they volunteer.  If there’s one thing the Third Sector doesn’t need it’s more posh graduates, with their eye on a lucrative career in charity management, working with ex-offenders or homeless people .

Unfortunately charities must take their share of responsibility for the upcoming train wreck that is Universal Credit.  Had the so called third sector  organised together and rejected the brutal workfare and sanctions regime introduced by this toff government they could have stopped welfare reform in it’s tracks.

Instead they organised themselves to maximise income from welfare reforms by forming coalitions such as Disability Works in the hope of picking up fat Work Programme contracts.   Not content with profiting from the most brutal welfare regime in Western Europe, charities like Scope and Barnardo’s have fallen over themselves to recruit unpaid staff on mandatory government schemes.

Scope even had the nerve to criticise the Boycott Workfare campaign for challenging them over their use of forced labour.  A statement on Scope’s website claims they are ‘disappointed’ about the campaign highlighting their use of unpaid workers sentenced to Mandatory Work Activity.  The charity  attempted to slur Boycott Workfare by suggesting the campaign had been targeting the Scope’s use of volunteers as opposed to those working for them unpaid under threat of benefit sanctions.  Boycott Workfare’s response to Scope has seemingly been ignored by the charity.

The truth is that no-one has undermined volunteering more than the charities who have been so happy to make use of forced unpaid labour.  When Universal Credit begins next year thousands of genuine volunteers will be forced to give up their unpaid positions.  The major UK  charities who have toadied up to this government in pursuit of lucrative contracts and free labour will only have themselves to blame.