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Mental Health Resistance Network protest outside the Thamesreach 'Employment Academy' in Camberwell.

Earlier today, Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN), Disabled People Against the Cuts, Winvisible, together with other Southwark residents, held a protest outside Thamesreach's 'Employment Academy' on Peckham Road.

Thamesreach, a 'charity', have been criticised for their cosy relationship with DWP and Iain Duncan Smith, as well as for their attacks on the most marginalised. Thamesreach-run 'Living Well Hub', part of the Streatham Job Centre, is, according to Thamesreach, a place “where specialist mental health services operating alongside JCP (Jobcentre) staff are working together towards a common goal of improving health and well-being and helping people to get back to, or stay in, work.”  Southwark had recently decided to set up a Living Well Hub inside the 'Employment Academy' on Peckham Road, which prompted this protest.

The lively protest spread outside the Thamesreach building and across the road, with the sound system playing a selection of 'work-themed' songs (inlcuding Sleaford Mods and the Ramones), while protesters gave out flyers to passers-by. As it's almost Christmas, someone had brought a present for Jeremy Swain, the charity's CEO.

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Many spoke about their concerns. 'This destruction has got to stop', one said. 'Countless are being destroyed in wars around the world, here, there's been one too many suicides because of austerity. It has to stop'. 'There is money for war but none to provide care for people who are struggling?!' asked another.The treatment for any one mental health problem can only be decided and agreed between the patients and doctors, and not a government, not a 'job advisor'. Merging mental health services with those responsible for sanctioning the vulnerable is only going to make things much worse and push people into further cycle of poverty, fodobanks and homelessness.

Another protester told us, "We'd met up with Thamesreach in Streatham and they were claiming it was just a 'coincidence' there was a wellbeing hub in a Jobcentre. Jobcentre was just their landlord, allegedly. Same story for Southwark - the Employment Academy is 'just a landlord' - we know Iain Duncan Smith is keen to have mental health services and employment services under one roof, conflating the two."

You can see more photos from today's protest here. You can also watch a short video here.
 

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