This post is a response to the article by the Independent on Sat 30th July in which they have released a list of 534 organisations (including us) on the Department for Work & Pensions scheme for The Mandatory Work Activity.
The Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project is very grateful for all the volunteers who work with us in our mission to save resources and prevent wood from being wasted, and in turn we strive to ensure that our volunteers gain valuable skills and work experience. We like to think we're a supportive and attractive place to volunteer and work, welcoming volunteers from all sorts of sources, and wouldn't want to turn away suitable applicants.
In 2011 we were approached by the Jobcentre with this scheme. At the time we made it clear that anyone selected for a placement at Brighton and Hove Wood Recycling Project should really want to work with us. We hoped that it would be a good opportunity for the people who came forward; we want to give experience to people who are disadvantaged in the labour and so the Jobcentre is a good way to contact potential volunteers.
The two people sent to us who completed the scheme were treated exactly the same as our other volunteers, so they were able to work flexible hours and they received our standard daily expenses directly from us. However, it was clear that despite our request to the Jobcentre they did not want to be here. This is entirely against our ethos, so we immediately decided not to take on anyone else.
To put in perspective, in 2011 46 volunteers came to us, some volunteering for as little as 4 hours because that's all we ask. We have 13 members of staff employed currently, 5 part time and 8 full time, 9 of whom started as a volunteer.
We pay all our staff at least the Living Wage which is well above the statutory minimum, and are working hard to try to improve this further.
"We strongly disagree with the Workfare scheme; it goes against everything we are working for. We believe that volunteers are just that, volunteers, it should never be mandatory. From the 2 volunteers who completed the Workfare scheme placement with us, we saw first-hand how disagreeable it was and ceased to accept any more applicants immediately."
If you want to know more please don't hesitate to get in touch, come and meet the team or even volunteer! We're more than happy to answer any queries you may have.
Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project