Portrait of Iffat, Oxfam aid worker
Portrait of Iffat, Oxfam aid worker

Keeping people safe

From constantly improving safeguarding policies, to installing solar lights that make refugee camps more secure, keeping people safe is a vital part of our work worldwide. Oxfam is changing to better protect the people we serve.

The Charity Commission

We have been working with the charity regulators for England and Wales, as they look into Oxfam GB's handling of misconduct in 2011. Learn more

Independent Commission Report

An independent commission of safeguarding experts has reviewed our culture and working practices globally. Read more here.

How we are keeping people safe

We have tripled our investment in safeguarding, created a new Director of Safeguarding role reporting directly to the CEO, and have rolled out a mandatory safeguarding awareness course for 10,000 Oxfam employees worldwide. But we won't stop there. Living by our values is every bit as important as what we achieve, and we must not lose sight of that. Abuse - in all its forms - has no place in what we do, and we will work hard to make our organisation safe and secure for everyone.

Safeguarding in our work around the world

Training during the Indonesia Tsunami and Earthquake

Local Oxfam safeguarding lead Cahyanti, pictured centre, runs safeguarding training for our local partner organisation, staff and volunteers delivering vital aid. During emergencies, such as the disaster that hit Sulawesi in late 2018, we work collaboratively with local people and organisations to respond to the community. It's vital that everyone involved is equipped to help keep people safe at such a critical time.

Preventing exploitation of the most vulnerable

Nosiba Ahmed works for Oxfam as a Cultural Mediator in Italy. She reaches out to the most vulnerable migrants, helping to protect them from trafficking and violations of their rights to seek asylum. Having come from Sudan as a migrant herself,she really cares about building trust with people in the same situation. "Sometimes we meet people and they are hopeless... We can tell them, 'actually, there is something you can do. You have rights'." 

Breaking down the barriers women and girls face

Grace's two-hour walk to school in rural Malawi made her vulnerable. It was unsafe, she was often late and her work suffered. She used to worry about her journey. But everything changed when she got a bike from Oxfam. These days, it's easier - and safer - for Grace to get the education she needs to overcome poverty.

Our programmes are designed to defend women and girls' rights to an education, a living and freedom from fear of violence. We won't allow anything to undermine that vital work.

Explore the sections below to see what we are doing differently

Ensuring survivors can report abuse in confidence - and that they get the support they need - is paramount. 

We are renewing appeals for survivors to come forward and report allegations. Our independent and confidential whistleblowing hotline operates globally and in five languages. Specialist safeguarding staff are also working on the ground where they are most needed - with at least one dedicated safeguarding lead in place in every country where Oxfam works. 

We have improved the support we provide to survivors of abuse, which includes counselling and medical aid. A Survivor Reference Group, advising the Independent Commission, is helping us to learn and improve what we do.

We have appointed more than 100 people trained to carry out investigations around the world, and doubled the number of specialists working in Oxfam GB's head office. Our policies in reporting potential crimes to police and local authorities are clearer and have been developed with guidance from survivors. 

We have introduced a new electronic record-keeping system for all cases. This secure central database is used by all Oxfam affiliates to build information and evidence of potential crimes. We're also working together to ensure everyone follows the same procedures.

We are working with the wider aid sector to stop perpetrators from moving on unchecked to other roles and organisations. Oxfam is leading work with other agencies to better share information about offenders and, over the next two years, we will invest up to £2 million towards wider initiatives to make the aid sector safer.

Here at Oxfam GB, we have implemented a new, central referencing system, so that only approved managers can provide job references for people leaving the organisation.

Safeguarding training is mandatory for Oxfam GB's 10,000 staff around the world, and all staff and volunteers sign a code of conduct when starting work with us.

But preventing abuse and exploitation is not just part of what we do - it is at the very heart of ending poverty. In order to change the power structures that allow abuse to happen, we are examining attitudes towards issues like gender, class and race and making efforts to challenge the status quo in partnership with other organisations.

In all our shops across the UK, enhanced DBS checks are put in place for all shop managers, deputy managers and volunteers who supervise young people, and we are piloting the scheme for all other volunteers.

Right now all volunteers complete a disclosure form as a minimum, which asks them questions such as whether they have any spent convictions, are on a barred list, or have been cautioned for violent or sexual offences.

Our Director of Safeguarding works directly with our Chair of Trustees, Caroline Thomson, as well as reporting to the CEO.  Our trustees have greater oversight of safeguarding across the organisation, with the creation of a new Trustees Safeguarding Committee led by Caroline.

Every six months, we publish a report on all safeguarding cases we have completed across Oxfam globally. We also have clear policies on reporting serious incidents to donors.

We're committed to sharing information openly, ensuring public reputation is never put before the safety of people we are responsible for.

Oxfam's safeguarding and related policies