[Hpn] Shelter strike for the homeless

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Thu, 06 Mar 2008 07:37:14 -0500


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Thursday, March 06, 2008
Shelter strike for the homeless=20
http://aw2w.blogspot.com/2008/03/shelter-strike-for-homeless.html
The charity Shelter was founded 1966 in response to the television play =
'Cathy Come Home'. The powerful drama brought to a head widespread anger =
about Britain's housing crisis. Now the play's director, Ken Loach, is =
backing a series of strikes by Shelter workers - the first took place =
yesterday - over plans to make them work longer hours for the same pay.

Shelter, like many voluntary sector charities, is increasingly dependent =
on contracts from the state to sustain its finances. With the government =
demanding more for less, Shelter tore up existing staff contracts and =
provoked an unprecedented strike in the process.

Shelter's chief executive Adam Sampson responded to Loach's call for =
people to stop donating to the charity by saying it was there to serve =
homeless people, not its staff. Using corporate-style, cost-driven =
arguments, Sampson says it is the customer that counts. However, Sampson =
fails to explain how it can deliver the same, or even a better, service =
with fewer staff working for longer hours. Perhaps charities with advice =
lines like Shelter's could consider outsourcing to Mumbai?

One in seven children in Britain are growing up in bad housing, and =
thousands of homeless households are stuck in temporary accommodation. =
Last month, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said repossessions =
rose by 21% in 2007 to 27,100 homes, the highest figure since 1999. That =
figure is going to rise dramatically in 2008, as people find it =
impossible to pay their mortgages. Meanwhile, the number of new housing =
associations homes being built plummeted by 43% in London last year. =
Shelter's services have never been needed more. It isn't Sampson who is =
going to be on the other end of a phone helping people find ways to =
rehouse their families.

As charities have been drawn into signing contracts with the state - =
either central or local government - they have become increasingly =
subject to the harsh rules of the market. Those who commission contracts =
are out to get services as cheaply as they can, with quality certainly =
not the main consideration.=20

Perversely, the more that charities are co-opted into the delivery of =
services at the lowest cost, the quicker their ability to support the =
neediest people is diminished. Being tied into these contracts also =
makes it virtually impossible for charities to criticise and campaign =
vigorously against the government and local authorities. In the end, the =
sector is voluntarily super-exploiting its own workers and effectively =
subsidising the state, losing any semblance of independence in the =
process.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations' annual Almanac found =
that there are 2.6 charities per thousand of the population in =
prospering suburbs, compared to 1.6 charities per thousand in suburbs =
that are "constrained by circumstances". It also shows that there are =
2.2 charities per thousand in multicultural communities, compared to 1 =
charity per thousand in blue collar communities. Working with people who =
really need support is too tough, too expensive. In New Labour's market =
state the veneer of concern for deprived communities hides an =
abandonment of whole areas of the country.

As Britain plunges into recession, with fuel and food price inflation =
already pushing families to the brink, there is an urgent need for =
not-for-profit organisations who will break free of the state. Once =
independent of the status quo, they could work alongside communities to =
challenge the economic structures responsible for homelessness, poverty =
and neglect. Shelter's strikers could help kick-start just such a =
campaign.=20




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<H2 class=3Ddate-header>Thursday, March 06, 2008</H2>
<DIV class=3D"post hentry"><A name=3D3290801948601965885></A>
<H3 class=3D"post-title entry-title"><A =
href=3D"http://www.aworldtowin.net/">Shelter=20
strike for the homeless</A> </H3>
<DIV class=3D"post-title entry-title"><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://aw2w.blogspot.com/2008/03/shelter-strike-for-homeless.html=
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<P>The charity Shelter was founded 1966 in response to the television =
play=20
=91Cathy Come Home=92. The powerful drama brought to a head widespread =
anger about=20
Britain=92s housing crisis. Now the play=92s director, Ken Loach, is =
backing a=20
series of strikes by Shelter workers =96 the first took place yesterday =
- over=20
plans to make them work longer hours for the same pay.<BR><BR>Shelter, =
like many=20
voluntary sector charities, is increasingly dependent on contracts from =
the=20
state to sustain its finances. With the government demanding more for =
less,=20
Shelter tore up existing staff contracts and provoked an unprecedented =
strike in=20
the process.<BR><BR>Shelter=92s chief executive Adam Sampson responded =
to Loach=92s=20
call for people to stop donating to the charity by saying it was there =
to serve=20
homeless people, not its staff. Using corporate-style, cost-driven =
arguments,=20
Sampson says it is the customer that counts. However, Sampson fails to =
explain=20
how it can deliver the same, or even a better, service with fewer staff =
working=20
for longer hours. Perhaps charities with advice lines like Shelter=92s =
could=20
consider outsourcing to Mumbai?<BR><BR>One in seven children in Britain =
are=20
growing up in bad housing, and thousands of homeless households are =
stuck in=20
temporary accommodation. Last month, the Council of Mortgage Lenders =
(CML) said=20
repossessions rose by 21% in 2007 to 27,100 homes, the highest figure =
since=20
1999. That figure is going to rise dramatically in 2008, as people find =
it=20
impossible to pay their mortgages. Meanwhile, the number of new housing=20
associations homes being built plummeted by 43% in London last year. =
Shelter=92s=20
services have never been needed more. It isn=92t Sampson who is going to =
be on the=20
other end of a phone helping people find ways to rehouse their=20
families.<BR><BR>As charities have been drawn into signing contracts =
with the=20
state =96 either central or local government =96 they have become =
increasingly=20
subject to the harsh rules of the market. Those who commission contracts =
are out=20
to get services as cheaply as they can, with quality certainly not the =
main=20
consideration. <BR><BR>Perversely, the more that charities are co-opted =
into the=20
delivery of services at the lowest cost, the quicker their ability to =
support=20
the neediest people is diminished. Being tied into these contracts also =
makes it=20
virtually impossible for charities to criticise and campaign vigorously =
against=20
the government and local authorities. In the end, the sector is =
voluntarily=20
super-exploiting its own workers and effectively subsidising the state, =
losing=20
any semblance of independence in the process.<BR><BR>The National =
Council for=20
Voluntary Organisations=92 annual Almanac found that there are 2.6 =
charities per=20
thousand of the population in prospering suburbs, compared to 1.6 =
charities per=20
thousand in suburbs that are =93constrained by circumstances=94. It also =
shows that=20
there are 2.2 charities per thousand in multicultural communities, =
compared to 1=20
charity per thousand in blue collar communities. Working with people who =
really=20
need support is too tough, too expensive. In New Labour=92s market state =
the=20
veneer of concern for deprived communities hides an abandonment of whole =
areas=20
of the country.<BR><BR>As Britain plunges into recession, with fuel and =
food=20
price inflation already pushing families to the brink, there is an =
urgent need=20
for not-for-profit organisations who will break free of the state. Once=20
independent of the status quo, they could work alongside communities to=20
challenge the economic structures responsible for homelessness, poverty =
and=20
neglect. Shelter's strikers could help kick-start just such a campaign.=20
<BR></P></DIV></DIV></DIV>
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