It’s good to talk!

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As we had received no answer to our polite letter to the Maxwell Centre about their use of forced labour, we decided to pay them a visit: so, at 11 o’clock this morning about a dozen of us turned up outside their door, complete with placards and leaflets and the photographer from the Courier. The manager seemed rather stunned to see us – but sat down to discuss with us. She said that they had indeed had two people from the Work Programme, but did not seem aware that they would have been press-ganged into coming under threat of having their benefits sanctioned, and not genuine volunteers. We explained that there is no such thing as nice workfare, and even if the Centre didn’t inform the DWP about any failure to participate, people could still be sanctioned. And some time later we were told that the Centre would not be taking any more people from the Work Programme! A few of us are meeting with people from the management board this evening, so we will be trying to formalise this – update to follow. We are optimistic because we know that this is a community centre that is doing lots of genuinely good work, and exploitation of local people isn’t one of their aims. We can also thoroughly recommend their home-made soup – and followers of our blog will know that we are soup connoisseurs.

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