On 8th February members of Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty visited Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre in Edinburgh to give out leaflets and talk to those present to explain why the Centre should withdraw from workfare. This followed several phone calls and e mails and many Facebook messages which had all been ignored by the Centre management.
The visit had a significant impact, lively discussions breaking out in the middle of the cafe area where ECAP members were leafleting. A member of the Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre management committee promised they would discuss the issue at their meeting this Wednesday 10th and reply to ECAP’s request to address the management committee on the issue. Centre manager Robert Scott seemed none too happy however, threatening to call the police to evict the leafleters!
Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre uses workfare conscripts from provider learndirect on the Community Work Placements scheme, whereby jobseekers have to work for their benefits for six months under threat of sanction. The Centre management has been directly involved in having sanctions imposed on claimants sent to them. Jobseeker Jimmy, sent to do workfare at Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre in early 2015, explained to the Centre manager that he did not think such a community group should be using workfare.
The Centre manager sent him away and reported him to Learndirect, who in turn sent a sanction referral to the DWP, causing his benefits to be stopped. Fortunately Jimmy sought support from ECAP, who fought his case with both Learndirect and the DWP, insisting that Learndirect contact the DWP to withdraw the sanction referral. Thanks to this solidarity, all Jimmy’s benefits were restored.
To tell Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre that you think they should withdraw from workfare, you can write a review of the Centre here https://www.facebook.com/Oxgangsneighbourhoodcentreorg/reviews/
The text of the leaflet given out at Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre follows:
AN APPEAL TO OXGANGS NEIGHBOURHOOD CENTRE
DO THE RIGHT THING
END THE CENTRE’S INVOLVEMENT IN GOVERNMENT WORKFARE SCHEMES
The good work done by Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre is being undermined by the Centre’s participation in the compulsory government workfare schemes which force jobseekers and even disabled people to work for their benefits – or lose their money.
The Centre takes claimants sent by government contractor Learndirect on Community Work Placements. They are forced to work unpaid for six months. Jobseekers have had their benefits stopped because of this. One was sent away after criticising the Centre’s participation in workfare and unjustly lost his benefits when a Centre manager reported him to Learndirect. This makes a mockery of genuine volunteering.
We appeal to the Centre to join the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council, Oxfam, Shelter, Christian Aid and 632 other charities who embrace volunteering and boycott workfare – see keepvolunteeringvoluntary.net
Workfare not only exploits the claimants forced to work for nothing, it undermines all workers’ wages and conditions. There is a grave danger that workfare will be used to replace paid workers as public services and funding for voluntary organisations are savagely cut.
Workfare is part of the class war being waged by the rich and the governments of the world against the poor. They want US to pay the price for the economic crisis caused by THEIR greed and THEIR profit-dominated system. Why should we accept growing inequality and austerity? Society has the wealth to provide plenty for all – if resources were held in common and shared.
We are an independent group of claimants and low waged workers. Several claimants have approached us, appalled that this Centre supports workfare. Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre – do the right thing and end your participation in exploitation and sanctions.
EDINBURGH COALITION AGAINST POVERTY edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org On Facebook and Twitter
If you would like to get involved in these kind of activities against workfare contact email@example.com
BEING SENT ON WORKFARE YOURSELF?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for support
Or call in at our Tuesday drop-ins at ACE, 12-3pm
TELL OXGANGS NEIGHBOURHOOD CENTRE WHAT YOU THINK OF THEM USING WORKFARE
Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre
0131 466 0678
Robert Scott manager
facebook – Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre
We suggest addressing complaints to the Management Committee
Urge the local SNP councillor Richard Lewis to tell ONC they should
withdraw from workfare. ONC get funding from City of Edinburgh Council
– who have an anti workfare policy.
Urge the local SNP MP Joanna Cherry to tell ONC they should withdraw