Boycott Workfare is campaigning for the end of compulsory work placements for unemployed people, which can require them to work for up to 30 hours unpaid or risk losing their benefits. It is running a week of action against six charities that it says take part in the activity, including Barnardo’s.
But a spokeswoman for the children’s charity said: "Barnardo’s does not take part in any mandatory work activity. We have been clear that we are against the principle of benefits sanctions, having successfully lobbied the government last year to drop them for young people taking part in the Work Experience programme.
"We are committed to helping the people furthest from the labour market to develop the skills needed to gain paid employment. This can take several routes, including through the voluntary elements of the government-funded Work Experience initiative and the Work Programme."
She said all managers had been instructed on the charity’s position on this.
A spokeswoman for Boycott Workfare insisted that Barnardo’s had been involved in workfare schemes, which in its view includes a variety of programmes, each with different criteria, such as the Work Programme, Work Experience and the Community Action Programme.
"We’ve received testimonials from people who’ve been involved in mandatory work activity in Barnardo’s shops," she said. "They’ve also been involved in the Youth Contract, a large component of which is workfare."