In the town where I live I know of a charity shop that refuses to use workfare volunteers. Yes it would be easier for them to use workfare because they would have more help but they refuse. Volunteering should be voluntary they say and quite rightly so. I often go in and sometimes help out. It’s a lovely friendly shop everyone is made to feel welcome. A person who works there wanted to tell me about the effects of sanctioning and their volunteers are concerned. This shop and the person speaking want to remain anonymous, and I respect their wishes. Also please note that this is not a big chain charity shop it’s an independent charity shop. I will write the following in their words. It is a true account but they will remain anonymous.
” In my entire life they had never known people in this country to go hungry like this. We went through all the miners strikes and managed to avoid that. During the miners strike that they helped organise the miners had strike pay and we collected and distributed food to help out. No one went hungry or complained of being hungry. If someone was without food was given.Not like now. The volunteers were showing up for work even when they weren’t needed because they wanted to stay warm in the shop. They arrived hungry without having any breakfast and had no money for any lunch. They were drinking endless cups of tea and coffee to fill themselves up. But they never complained. They’d say things like “I’ll be ok” and “I’ll manage” when I knew full well that they wouldn’t. I’d buy them a sandwich and they would be ravenous, you could tell that they were starving. They had obviously missed more than two meals.All of the volunteers described as being like this except for one have mild learning difficulties. They have trouble grasping the true severity of the situation and are too proud to ask for help. We couldn’t allow this to carry on and we are spending a lot of our time taking volunteers to places like welfare rights and other places so they can get freebies so that they can manage. The situation became that bad we started up our own foodbank for our own volunteers. It’s heartbreaking and it really hits home when you realise that these volunteers were workers and have paid into the system, it’s not their fault that they have lost their job. So far we haven’t had any parents of children who are in this position and I dread to think how they will cope when they are sanctioned. Ive never seen the poor suffer like this before and we do whatever we can do to help”.
This is shocking. Now as I’ve mentioned before this charity shop doesn’t use workfare, but I can’t imagine how many people who have been sanctioned are hungry and are still having to attend their workfare placement? They must be so hungry, after not eating for days in a lot of cases. Can you imagine the torment that they feel? The feeling of constantly being hungry and cold? The workfare placement is torture to them. They won’t have much strength to do the work required. If they aren’t doing their work to a so called standard then the workfare provider can report them to the Jobcentre who can sanction them again on top of their sanction.
This sounds totally unreal and inhumane and it is. Even in the days of old when you entered the workhouse to work you were fed gruel and porridge. It wasn’t nice but you didn’t starve. We are seeing literally starving people having to work. The last time I heard of this was in the concentration camps. But we allow this to happen. No one really cares except for those of us with a conscience. Sanctioning is wrong, it’s evil, it goes against every human rights law that exists. To deprive a person knowingly of food, water and their means of warmth is illegal. To make a person feel so bad that they are forced to commit suicide Is illegal. To make a person starve to death is illegal. But it’s happening everyday. Make no mistake the people who sanction and this government don’t discriminate when sanctioning. They will sanction anyone and it’s getting worse. From April 2016 senior citizens claiming pension credit will be subject to the same terrible system of monitoring and case reviews as the disabled and jobseekers when the ‘assessed income period’ system is abolished. This government will harass people in their twilight years for the sake of a few pennies that they have worked hard for all their life’s. They have paid their taxes and their national insurance in the reassurance that they will be able to get their old age pension and to enjoy their retirement. This is also so wrong. We need to stop this before it starts. One good way of doing this is to vote them out this year, but then the Labour Party have promised 4 more years of harsh austerity measures. Now we know austerity doesn’t work. How much longer are the poor and vulnerable going to be made to pay for the rich?
And ask yourself… How many more deaths does there have to be? One death is a death too many.