Letter: Workfare looks unworkable to the Kentish 'chain gang'

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report and leading article about workfare raised some key issues, but did not give more than a nod towards the charity sector organisations who are likely to be asked to deliver a substantial proportion of any new scheme.

The Wildlife Trusts have 15 years' experience of hosting a succession of employment and training programmes from the community programme in the early Eighties to the more recent Community Action. Any scheme needs to pass five tests. It should be: efficient, to safeguard public money; worthwhile for the participants; valuable to the community; practical for the host organisations; and voluntary - to ensure people participate for the right reasons.

Those planning the latest scheme should be aware that charities will welcome programmes which pass these five tests. They will also need guarantees that there will be no sudden and radical rule changes - a feature which has bedevilled these activities in the past.

Menial forced labour is not attractive to anyone. Worthwhile work benefiting local communities and the people carrying it out is attractive to everyone.

PETER R SHIRLEY

Director, Community Affairs,

The Wildlife Trusts

Lincoln

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