Statement on the Workfare scheme and the Work Programme
Posted Monday 20 February 2012
Mind has received a number of questions from supporters about its involvement with the Department for Work and Pensions Workfare scheme and the Work Programme.
Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
Many thousands of people volunteer for Mind every day through our charity shops and local services, and we value their commitment and hard work.
We simply could not operate without the dedication of our volunteers who do a tremendous job helping people with mental health problems.
Volunteers tell us how much they enjoy being involved with the charity and the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives.
Mind firmly believes that being a volunteer should be exactly that: something you choose willingly to give up your time to do.
We share the concerns raised by some of our supporters about Workfare and the principle of coercive volunteering and will be reviewing our internal procedures to make sure that mandatory placements are not used.
Mind provides services through a network of over 160 independent local Mind charities and 122 Mind shops.
We haven’t yet been able to confirm that Workfare volunteers are not working in one or more of our local operations but we are working hard to find out this information. If we find any coercive placements, they will be brought to an end.
Mind expects the highest standards from our networks and would expect any placements to be voluntary, well organised, meaningful and supportive, particularly for people with mental health problems.
Disability Works UK
Concerns have also been raised about Mind’s links to the Work Programme.
Mind is a member of Disability Works UK, a not-for-profit consortium of eight disability charities that have come together to provide tailored support to people who are ready to enter the workplace.
Through Disability Works UK, our local Minds may be involved in offering specialist support to people with mental health problems helping to improve their skills and boost their confidence.
Well-structured and meaningful volunteering can be an excellent way to prepare people for paid work.
However, we believe that forcing people to volunteer is not the best way forward.
Disability Works UK will not play a role in imposing sanctions and will only seek contracts with providers whose values are compatible with our own.