Oxfam’s sex scandal in Haiti is deeply worrying.  Not just for the way in which Oxfam seems to have failed in its duty of care for vulnerable people in the communities it was supporting, but also for the impact on the charity sector as a whole.  No doubt more details of what happened will come out in the Charity Commission statutory enquiry and I am sure that lessons will be learned.  But this is another example where the public’s faith in the charity sector will be shaken and the impact on the work that UK and international charities do could be significant.

 

Like the majority of charities, we rely on donors and fundraisers to support our cause.   So how does the sector ensure that those donors don’t turn away and stop their valuable support of charities?   Even in a relatively small charity like Minstead Trust, we probably don’t tell our supporters enough about our own safeguarding and whistleblowing procedures to give them confidence that we do all that we can to prevent abuse of any kind.   If someone asked, then of course we would tell them that all our staff and volunteers (whichever part of the organisation they work) are subject to full Disclosure and Barring Service checks (what used to be known as CRB checks), that we take references from the two most recent employers as well as personal references and follow up any areas of concern; that all our staff and volunteers have in-depth safeguarding training within three months of arrival and refresher training at least every two years.  And that we have a complaints procedure (and whistleblowing policy) where we respond to internal and external complaints within five working days (and in my five years’ at the charity I don’t think it has ever been more than two working days).  We also have a code of conduct for staff in terms of behavior using social media and of course, we expect all our staff and volunteers to behave within our values – the key one being behaving with integrity.

 

But is that enough?  On top of the `chugging` (charity mugging) scandal a couple of years ago when certain charities bombarded people with requests for funding and sold details of donors between them, and the failure of the financial mismanagement of Kids Company, alongside this latest, shocking scandal, is faith the in the sector dwindling?  So what more should we be doing to restore the public’s trust in our work?

 

 

CEO of Minstead Trust