Find out more about the Mental Wealth Alliance and the background to this New Savoy action here
Source: the free psychotherapy network
“As the links between mental health and DWP benefits policies have developed (see this Government catalogue of Work and Health reports between 2005 and 2014 – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/health-work-and-wellbeing-evidence-and-research ) so has the link between Psy Professional bodies and the DWP.
New Savoy has welcomed this marriage of workfare and IAPT/psychological well-being support. See their statement on welfare reform here – http://www.newsavoypartnership.org/joint-pledge-on-welfare.htm
For several years New Savoy invited DWP and DoH ministers to open their conferences (e.g. Lord Freud and Norman Lamb).
The Kitty Jones blog is very informative on the developing use of psychological coercion within the workfare system (e.g. https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-government-plan-to-nudge-sick-and-disabled-people-into-work/) as is the Friedli and Stearn paper – http://mh.bmj.com/content/41/1/40.full
It was in the spring of 2015, when Osborne’s budget proposed co-locating IAPT workers in Jobcentres, that a number of Alliance and PCSR therapists contacted MH activist groups like the Mental Health Resistance Network and DPAC to see if we could work together to oppose the use of psychological therapy to get people off benefits and back to work.
The issue for us, of course, was the abuse of therapeutic ethics and practice through its application to support the goals and culture of DWP workfare – a policy direction based on political ideology, not clinical need.
We see a shared cause between MH claimants on the receiving end of these policies and the unethical and demeaning working conditions of practitioners/workers providing the services. On the latter, see for example – https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2016/feb/17/were-not-surprised-half-our-psychologist-colleagues-are-depressed
The Mental Wealth Alliance (formerly MW Foundation) was born out of subsequent meetings between MH activists, professionals and welfare campaigners. It is an umbrella for 18 organisations concerned with MH, therapy and welfare:
Mental Health Resistance Network; Disabled People Against Cuts; Recovery in the Bin; Boycott Workfare; The Survivors Trust; Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy; College of Psychoanalysts; Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility; Psychologists Against Austerity; Free Psychotherapy Network; Psychotherapists and Counsellors Union; Critical Mental Health Nurses’ Network; Social Work Action Network (Mental Health Charter); National Unemployed Workers Combine; Merseyside County Association of Trades Union Councils; Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network; National Health Action Party; Making Waves
In April 2015 the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy organised a Guardian letter signed by over 400 psy professionals on the consequences for people’s mental health of the Governments austerity cuts, and in particular the plans to expand the use of therapists to ‘encourage’ MH benefits claimants into work – https://freepsychotherapynetwork.com/mwa-response-to-the-psy-professional-bodies-statement-on-benefit-sanctions-and-mental-health-301116/
At the same time, the MWA began an exchange of letters with the five main psy professional organisations, expressing our outrage at their support for and participation in DWP workfare programmes. The latest contribution from MWA to this exchange is the response to their statement on sanctions which can be found here – https://freepsychotherapynetwork.com/mwa-response-to-the-psy-professional-bodies-statement-on-benefit-sanctions-and-mental-health-301116/.
The earlier exchanges can be found here – https://allianceblogs.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/mwf_letters_2/
The only organisation that has responded to our request to meet and talk about the issues is BABCP who we met in November last year, shortly before the recent statement on sanctions.
Members of the MWA have campaigned together against the co-location of IAPT, psychological support services in Jobcentres in June 2015 – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/26/mental-health-protest-clinic-jobcentre-streatham
The locating of DWP work counsellors in GP practices in March 2016 – http://islingtonnow.co.uk/2016/03/07/putting-job-advisers-in-doctors-surgeries-will-harm-patients-say-protesters/
New Savoy partnership July 2016 – http://dpac.uk.net/2016/06/protest-against-work-cure-therapy-5th-july-london/ and video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBbXK1Ac7W0
Here is the double sided leaflet we gave out to attendees of the conference. Very relevant to the March protest – https://freepsychotherapynetwork.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/notinournamenothingaboutus-final.pdf
Associates of MWA helped organise a lobby at the BPS annual conference this January – https://freepsychotherapynetwork.com/united-against-welfare-cuts-against-reform-report-from-the-lobby-of-the-british-psychological-society-conference-18th-january-2017/
We have held two major conferences – in Bermondsey and Liverpool – on welfare reform and psycho-compulsion. Reports here – https://allianceblogs.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/welfare-coercion-conference-report-part-1/ and here – http://socialworkfuture.org/campaigns-events/529-mh-and-welfare-reform-conference-report
We have participated in the Free Psychotherapy Network’s conference and the Psychologists and the Benefits System conference in Manchester – http://www.walkthetalk2015.org/news/psychologists-and-benefits-system.”
My contribution to the latter is here – https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/welfare-conditional-citizenship-and-the-neuroliberal-state-conference-presentation/
Read more here – Some background to the MWA and the New Savoy demo and lobby Wednesday 15th March 2017
10 thoughts on “Protest at the 10th annual New Savoy conference – Mental Wealth Alliance”
Is above use of the term “workfare”, being used only with regard to forced unpaid labour, along the lines of Boycott Workfare’s “Campaign to abolish forced unpaid labour”? (https://twitter.com/boycottworkfare/)
Or is it being used to refer to all DWP benefit conditions forced onto claimants, leading to workfare as
forced-unpaid labour being lost as a distinct political target? Does use of term ‘workfare’ as a non specific generic term help or hinder the fight against forced unpaid labour and or detract from claimants and campaigners current understanding of it’s current, historical and contemporary real world meaning?, like: https://www.startpage.com/do/search?cmd=process_search&query=workfare&language=english&lui=&pl=&with_date=&ff=&with_region=countryUK&abp=-1
Whilst I see what you are saying, I think that many link workfare with other forms of psycho-compulsion, and punitive measures such as sanctions – often used to enforce workfare. And there is value in that association too. The whole DWP system is wrong, founded on draconian policy-making and almost feudal thinking. The government really believes it can punish people out of poverty and discipline them into work.
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” I think that many link workfare with other forms of psycho-compulsion”
Can’t see very many here https://www.startpage.com/do/search?cmd=process_search&query=workfare&language=english&lui=&pl=&with_date=&ff=&with_region=countryUK&abp=-1
So workfare is a form of “psycho-compulsion”?
How does “psycho-compulsion” explain the holistic lived experience of being conscripted onto the Community Work Placement scheme, that required unpaid forced labour for 6 months full time?
Who is defining workfare? Those at risk of unpaid forced labour and or former conscripts or “many” others?
When did this conflating of workfare as “psycho-compulsion” start?
If workfare is a form of “psycho-compulsion”, it follows that it can also used when no actual forced unpaid labour is involved, this is it central weakness and says very little to the likes of conscripts who undertook 6 months full-time workfare (forced unpaid labour) as it silences the actual experience of workfare as forced-labour. It also seems to presume that psychology is the only legitimate framework to discuss workfare under and could be said to give psychology more status than deserved and may in fact act a concept to reinforce psychology as an oppressive force.
In essence, conflating/subsuming workfare with psycho-compulsion is ideologically problematic in the fight against workfare as unpaid forced-labour.
You should read the article: “The Mental Wealth Alliance (formerly MW Foundation) was born out of subsequent meetings between MH activists, professionals and welfare campaigners. It is an umbrella for 18 organisations concerned with MH, therapy and welfare:
Mental Health Resistance Network; Disabled People Against Cuts; Recovery in the Bin; Boycott Workfare; The Survivors Trust; Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy; College of Psychoanalysts; Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility; Psychologists Against Austerity; Free Psychotherapy Network; Psychotherapists and Counsellors Union; Critical Mental Health Nurses’ Network; Social Work Action Network (Mental Health Charter); National Unemployed Workers Combine; Merseyside County Association of Trades Union Councils; Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network; National Health Action Party; Making Waves”.
Boycott workfare are a part of the campaign. I don’t agree that there was any “conflation” of workfare with psycho-compulsion, and I don’t agree that a multi -approach to raising awareness of the damaging and harmful impacts of policy is “ideologically problematic”.
So none of the representation of workfare here https://www.startpage.com/do/search?cmd=process_search&query=workfare&language=english&lui=&pl=&with_date=&ff=&with_region=countryUK&abp=-1 is relevant? Take your point about conflation, but when term workfare is used in such a generic way and it implicitly subsumes ‘unpaid forced labour’ then it will remain ideological problematic. The term can never have one meaning and seeking to impose one is ideologically driven. A long list of coalition organisations does not preclude each and individuals therein having differing views, whilst they come together to fight shared concerns . The overarching request being suggested is when the term workfare is used, what it is referring to be made explicit and if any explicit reference does not cover ‘unpaid forced labour’, then ideology is at play.
Put simply, no one should assume use of the term workfare only relates to a form of  psycho-compulsion or  unpaid forced labour, but neither should use of this term be taken for granted and used in a generic way, even if with a group who agrees to such useage, otherwise it risks becoming an echo chamber, as it does not reflect the narrative that exists with those subjected to unpaid forced labour or at risk of it, nor reflective of the info available through the links above – it largely comes without.
Those subjected to this are a part of the group. Anything I write is from the perspective of a disabled person in the system going through the benefit process, from workfare to assessments. There are many others like me involved in this and other campaigns
I’ll be at the conference on Wednesday and Thursday as the conference organiser (Healthcare Conferences not New Savoy) – I think we may have met before at the previous event. We completely support your right to protest. I have explained to the venue that you will be in attendance and previously the protests have been peaceful. This is a much larger venue this year and they do have a hotel security team – if you have any issues please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thank you Clare
Some details for the 2018 conference has been released, including a discussion between Debbie Abrahams and Dame Carol Black. I hope Abrahams tells her that there’s no chance of a consensus so long as Black and her colleagues maintain influence.
Click to access 1210_20180214-104528_Psychological_Therapies_2018_Brochure.pdf
Any Questions: Could we get cross-party consensus on how best to support social security
claimants with mental health issues to be able to return to work?
• Should the government accept its current system lacks compassion and that
people with mental health issues should be exempt from sanction?
• What is the ethical responsibility for psychological therapists who the
government expects to be helping people on benefits with depression?
• How should we integrate employment support and counselling so that
compassion for the individual claimant / patient is central to both?
Chair: Mark Easton
Home Affairs Correspondent
Debbie Abrahams MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Professor Dame Carol Black DBE
Newnham College, Cambridge
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