Because the State does things so well, eh?

There are many reasons why I became homeless, but no one was surprised it happened. I’m just another care leaver who lost control of their life. Almost every person I lived with in children’s homes and foster placements has since experienced mental health problems, stints in prison, and battles with drug and alcohol addiction. What would make me so special that I could avoid the inevitable breakdown?

Quite an opening statement. Everyone who is brought up by the State breaks down.

The local housing advice service was no help. I was told that to be considered a priority need, I had to demonstrate that I was more vulnerable than my homeless counterparts. As one adviser put it: “I have to establish that you would be worse off than me, if I were homeless.” It may interest people that local councils are now running a misery contest for housing, a sort of X Factor for the destitute. Maybe my audition would have gone better if I’d had a few more missing teeth, and wet myself while singing Oom-Pah-Pah.

And then I befriended a resident of a residential charity for the homeless. He was far more helpful than the housing advisers, and managed to organise a place for me at the charity.

When I entered its walls, which were inside a converted factory, the place immediately struck me as having similarities with a Victorian workhouse. I was told by the “community leader” that I would receive basic subsistence: a room, food, clothing and a modest weekly allowance, in exchange for 40 hours’ labour.

Private charity helps him out. Bit of stability an address, food and in the warm. But he’s got to work for it.

Hmm, the bastards, eh?

These regulations not only strip homeless people of the right to a decent wage, but of all their other employment rights too. Because residents of such charities are not classed as employees, they cannot claim unfair dismissal or sick pay. Many people have lived and worked at the charity for up to 15 years, yet they can be sacked and evicted with no legal right to appeal.

I accept that residents, some of whom have suffered with long-term alcoholism and drug dependency, are far better off within the charity home’s walls than they would be on the streets or living alone. The environment is predominantly a positive one, where residents are well fed and safe, and are overseen by conscientious staff. The charity does give individuals the chance to participate in meaningful work and contribute to a community, sometimes for the first time in their lives. But none of this alters the fact that residents are forced by poverty to work for no pay.

So let’s insist that minimum wage must be paid shall we? That’s going to work well…..

27 comments on “Because the State does things so well, eh?

  1. No one can be this stupid. Surely it’s an attempt to have charities closed down so the welfare state may lay claim to even more of our paychecks to make up the difference.

  2. “He who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat!” I think the Victorians are victims of bad PR from the cultural Marxists.

  3. Because residents of such charities are not classed as employees, they cannot claim unfair dismissal or sick pay.

    So if someone does someone else a favour, they should be punished if the person receiving the favour becomes a little disgruntled? An interesting approach.

    Many people have lived and worked at the charity for up to 15 years, yet they can be sacked and evicted with no legal right to appeal.

    So if I give a pound to a beggar on a regular basis, he has a legal claim to compel me to continue to do so indefinitely? An interesting approach I have to say.

  4. “Private charity helps him out. Bit of stability an address, food and in the warm. But he’s got to work for it.

    Hmm, the bastards, eh?”

    Spot on! The chutzpah is astonishing!

  5. ” I was told by the “community leader” that I would receive basic subsistence: a room, food, clothing and a modest weekly allowance, in exchange for 40 hours’ labour.”

    Wake up & smell the coffee, sonny. That’s the basic level those who don’t get the assistance of a homeless charity live at. They work & they make enough to provide shelter, food, the essentials & a bit left over. And the vanman’s labourer is that basic level. You want more, s’up to you. Take ownership of your life, get out there & hustle. Like the rest of us.

  6. BiS calls it right.

    Basic subsistence and a bit of pocket money is all working millions are on after they have paid the thieving taxes and boosted bills of corporate socialists put into lucrative pseudo-monopolies (gas/electric/water/banks/the fucking BBC etc) by their Gub’mint pals.

  7. One word of advice to the charity. It would be better if inmates had the option of finding paid work, and then paying for their board and lodging as a stepping stone to a normal life. Finding a first job is hard, finding accommodation is hard. Don’t expect the weak to do both at once.

  8. Having some experience of the system I have some sympathy with him.

    In the Residential Care system the client is God, they have their entitlements and they can pretty much do what they want and no-one can stop them, it’s their “choice” if they (say) want to work as an underage prostitute and if you try and stop them you’ll be arrested. It’s not like “Tracy Beaker” (though the book is much more realistic …)

    The best interests of the child or paramount. The problem is this is interpreted as “what the child wants”.

    The problem is there’s this huge switch that goes off at 18 or so, and at that point the Social Care system ceases to give a sh*t whether they live or die pretty much.

    So the “care” doesn’t teach them anything (socially or educationally), puts no limits on their behaviour, no limits on what they can or cannot do.

    For a child this is both fabulous and as adulthood approaches terrifying. Many of them know what’s coming ; I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of my leavers – some have made it, some survive, some sink – but I was in a different field where we tried to educate and socialise and limit them, with varying degrees of success.

    The record of residential care homes is much worse. It always annoyed me that Social Services talked about taking a child into care as if it was a universally good thing ; the reality is that except for serious sexual or physical abuse by their parents/carers they would have a better chance where they were.

    This isn’t the fault of the staff ; it’s the way the system works and the interpretation of the laws. The staff have little or no option.

  9. He’s working 40 hours a week with no other commitments, but no money either. The obvious solution is to find a weekend job: even at minimum wage he’ll clear £400/mo, all tax-free. After a few months he’ll have enough cash to move out; and with the experience he’s gained, other employers will be keen to hire him.

    Presumably the charity tries to dissuade competent workers from leaving; and doesn’t help them to leave either. I agree that that’s not ideal. But we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  10. “Everyone who is brought up by the State breaks down.”

    Yeah, so let’s have everyone educated by the state too…

  11. > When I entered its walls, which were inside a converted factory…

    What’s this, a factory up north which hasn’t been converted into yuppie apartments? Probably this place – which makes sense, since Sheffield hasn’t been gentrified to the same extent as Leeds or Manchester.

  12. There used to be an excellent blog written by somebody who worked in a residential care home. Winston Smith, or something was it? It was excellent but highly depressing. Absolutely hopeless.

  13. ‘These regulations not only strip homeless people of the right to a decent wage, but of all their other employment rights too.’

    Then maybe they ain’t ‘rights’ at all.

  14. Bloke in France – no, he (Winston Smith) won the Orwell Prize and I assume they check out the bona fides of their recipients.

    Also, I don’t know that Inspector Gadget was ever found to be fake? His blog ran for five or six years and I imagine he just got fed up with it. He is still around on Twitter and I am pretty sure I have seen on his feed that he now writes a column for the Police Federation magazine. Again, this would suggest to me that he is genuine – the filth may not be the brightest but they are most unlikely to allow a fantasist to produce articles for their trade magazine!

  15. I didn’t know Smith had written a book. I must get hold of a copy, as others have said it was a very interesting if short lived blog.

  16. I thought Gadget eventually gave up on the whole circus and moved to Oz. Could be mis-remembering that one, though.

  17. No mention of vocational training?
    Even the Magdalene laundries did it, and British prisons do.

    A charity getting free work from its inmates might be tempted to do some training to make the slaves more efficient, no?

  18. BiF,

    > No mention of vocational training?

    Here’s a snippet from my earlier link:

    Most Emmaus Communities earn their living refurbishing and repairing donated furniture and electrical goods which are then sold in the Community’s shop.

    They’re obviously learning something – you can’t fix so much as a plug without knowing your live wire from your earth. My guess is that the homeless people who turn up on their doorstep don’t cope well with classroom-based learning, preferring instead to learn on the job.

  19. They are not working him to get anything from him, except at a minimal level. They are working him to teach him to work.

    The poor schnook is probably not now worth more than a penny an hour in terms of the value of his production. When guys like him are told to “carry that pile of shit over there and put it on that shelving” will take 4 hours to do a 20 minute job, break half the shit on the way, lose or steal a quarter of it and put it on the wrong shelving. Because “over there” is not necessarily clear to them.

    But, from his article, he’s an arrogant prick, which is usually a big part of the problem. He doesn’t know anything, because he already knows everything.

  20. NielsR – that was PC Copperfield, and he moved to Canada. I met him once – he passed Selection to the SAS with 21 but never joined. Interesting chap.

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