Tag Archives: welfare

Boycott Workfare Welfare Action Gathering

17 Feb

Boycott Workfare’s welfare action gathering on Saturday was a massive success. 80 people from groups across the country came to participate in the day of workshops based around info and skill sharing on the various welfare issues we face. The programme was packed, with sessions on JSA, ESA, housing, fuel poverty, and more, with people remarking on the difficulty of deciding which workshop to attend when there were clashes. We organised the gathering because supporting claimants to know and enforce their so-called rights, and claimants organising together and shaping the campaign, has always been a major part of what we do. For this to happen effectively local mutual support groups are key (it was from a London Coalition Against Poverty group that Boycott Workfare came out of) – we’ve distributed thousands of ‘How to Avoid Workfare’ leaflets but along with these, we really need a buddy or a group of people when challenging Job Centre Plus. The gathering was called to support the growing number of local groups so that we can build on the impressive work of challenging workfare and sanctions across the country through mutual support and direct action, like the examples shared with us early on in the day of the occupation of the £3 million council house and a blockade of the workfare exploiters Salvation Army.

The space to share these sorts of stories, experiences and tactics is how all the sessions were structured allowing the massive amount of knowledge held by everyone there from direct experiences of struggling within and against the welfare system to be collected together. If you’ve got notes from the day, send them to Boycott Workfare to be collated with the ones they’ve taken, and feel free to post below. I particularly liked the comment in the mutual support group discussion asking how we could build counter power like that in late 1970s Italy. We didn’t quite get round to discussing this in the session, but we did have a really interesting discussion in the limited time we had.

A diverse range of grassroots groups participated including Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, London Coalition Against Poverty, Disabled People Against Cuts, Fuel Poverty Action, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Leeds Hands Off Our Homes, Hackney Digs, Bristol Claimants Union, Birmingham Claimants Union, Brighton Benefits Campaign, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, Crossroads Women’s Centre, Refuted, Universal Automation, and possibly some I’ve forgotten, as well as people from places without a group but looking to start one. The gathering allowed people to make thick ties with other people and groups with loads of really valuable discussions happening within and outside the workshops throughout the day. It was really wonderful seeing so many new people, hearing inspiring stories, coming up with new ideas for actions (keep your eyes peeled) and new networks of support (e.g. informal email based groups for working tax credits and a mutual support group discussion). The workshop on Universal Automation has lead to some new ideas for this awesome app and I’m sure that lots more will come out of the day over the coming months.

 

 

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Articles I loved reading this year

26 Dec

I really like reading lists. Verso have made one for 2013 and there’s the greatly anticipated Novara reading list. I thought I’d bring together some of the best things I’ve read, and tweeted out excitedly, this year. There’s quite a lot on housing just cos I’ve been reading and doing stuff a lot on this recently. And there’s a massive and appalling absence of feminism/queer writings which I need to sort out – although women and gender issues do feature strongly in many welfare and housing articles. Also, my memory is pretty bad, so I’m sure I’ve missed loads of good stuff I read in the first half of the year. Hopefully you’ll find something to enjoy below and feel free to make suggestions of other articles.

Housing

Victims no longer: Spain’s anti-eviction movement

Housing and gentrification in Berlin; some thoughts and ideas

Social cleansing in Tower Hamlets: Interview with Balfron Tower Evictee

Housing, Homelessness and Austerity

This property is ConDemned

The housing crisis is a war – squatting is our (not so secret) weapon

Despite the state’s violence, our fight to escape the mud and fire of South Africa’s slums will continue

Welfare, work, anti-work

Werqin’ 9 to 5: cursory notes on antiwork politics from Dolly Parton to Shangela Laquifa

“The revolution starts in the ATOS smoking area” – on welfare, addiction, and dependency

Postfordism and mental health

Workers Against Work Working Group Introductory Statement 

Crisis in the cleaning sector

Sport

An overview of Italy’s anti-fascist gyms and boxing clubs

Economy stuff

Post-China and the Spatial Fix

Migration

Meet the Somalis: The illustrated stories of Somalis in seven cities in Europe

And this from earlier in the week was really cool – Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear: Heavy Clashes in Hamburg

Tonnes of housing action stuff

14 Nov
Image

Detail from a decorated door that was left outside the occupation of the Southwark council house

Next week at 195 Mare street social centre in Hackney, there’s a Free School running with workshops, films, and discussions. Each day has a different theme with housing/homelessness/benefits, Do It Yourself day, queer-feminism, and art. The timetable for the week looks amazing – incredibly varied and full (there’s a talk on ‘Defence Against the Dark Arts’, I’m excited about raw cooking cos I had my first raw cake a couple of months back and it was mind blowing).

Thursday 21st is housing/homelessness/benefits day with a jam-packed schedule ranging from advice and support sessions, talks with local housing action groups, and a lock and barricade workshop at 3.30pm, with the day finishing up with some kick boxing. I’m super excited about the day as it looks like a great chance for people to come together, make links, share info, learn practical skills, and plan more projects around welfare and housing action. I’m excited by the whole week as there is so much interesting stuff on. Don’t miss it!

Other exciting housing things include:

The visit this week by members of Abahlali baseMjondolo and their inspiring piece in the Guardian.

Space Hijacker’s FOXtons HUNT this Saturday meeting at 2pm outside the pub at London Fields.

Lambeth protest at the town hall 6pm Wednesday 20th on housing, education, and welfare cuts.

Numerous successful challenges to the residential squatting ban including Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth’s occupation of a council house which was being sold off which attracted national media attention and massive support, including home baked cake.

Talks about future housing actions across London.

My mate’s housing based tweets from her Berlin visit and a promised article on it.

And beyond housing and linked in with housing, there is loads of inspiring stuff going on – including the 3 Cosas campaign, London Campaign Against Police and State Violence, South London Anti-Fascists, the Week of Action Against Sanctions and Workfare.

See you on the streets (and in the squats)!