Oxfam welcomes Charity Commission report on safeguarding improvements
- Short URL: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/mc/5auxrz/
Oxfam GB today welcomed the Charity Commission’s finding that it had made “significant progress” in strengthening its safeguarding and the Commission’s decision to end the period of statutory supervision.
GCPS, independent assessors of Oxfam’s progress against its action plan, recognised “the enormous collective efforts that have resulted in substantial changes to the way Oxfam approaches safeguarding.” The Charity Commission announced that as a result, Oxfam GB will return to standard regulatory oversight.
Oxfam said that safeguarding and culture change will continue to be key priorities and that it will make further improvements and work to strengthen practice across the sector.
Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive, said: “I am pleased that both the Charity Commission and the independent assessors have recognised the progress we have made in strengthening our safeguarding. All forms of sexual misconduct are abhorrent and an affront to everything we stand for.
“We have worked hard to learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure that our vital work to save and improve lives takes place in as safe an environment as possible in a way that is consistent with our values.
“I am acutely aware of our responsibility to those who generously fund our work and to the communities we work with around the world, as well as to our staff and volunteers. I am grateful for the trust they have placed in us as we have embarked on this important journey to become a safer organisation. Today’s announcement is an important milestone in that journey, but I can promise that this is not the end of our efforts.”
Oxfam’s action plan was agreed with the Charity Commission following the Commission’s inquiry into Oxfam’s culture and failure to adequately tackle sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse (SHEA) - including events in Haiti in 2011, and other past safeguarding failings.
The Charity Commission found that Oxfam had invested “significant resources and energy” in delivering the action plan and identified a number of key improvements:
- prevention measures including safer recruitment and working culture;
- safeguarding resources and capabilities;
- oversight and supervision of safeguarding;
- understanding of barriers to beneficiaries reporting of sexual exploitation abuse and harassment, which is being used to further develop Oxfam’s approach to safeguarding; and
- support for survivors of exploitation, harm and abuse and its case management and intervention when things do go wrong.
In its report, the Charity Commission stated: ‘The Commission has seen evidence through its casework with the Charity of how this cultural shift has led to a more robust approach in dealing with subjects of complaint/concern and a more survivor centred approach when addressing safeguarding concerns and allegations."
Clifford Isabelle, Oxfam Director of Global Safeguarding, said: “As an organisation that works to help millions of the most vulnerable people in the world, we need to be constantly vigilant and continue to build a culture where all staff and people we work with are comfortable in calling out any abuse of power.
“No organisation can ever say it is free from the risk of abuse, but we will rightly be judged by what we do to mitigate that risk and by how we respond when incidents do occur. We will continue to improve, taking the necessary steps to root out unacceptable behaviour, encouraging communities to report concerns and giving top priority to the needs and wishes of survivors.
“There must be no place for perpetrators of abuse within Oxfam or the wider sector. In recent years, we have made significant strides in addressing our past failings, but we know there is more to do. Working in partnership with local communities is crucial - both in preventing abuse and ensuring that survivors have the confidence and safe spaces to report misconduct – and we are committed to doing that.”
For further information contact:
- Jon Slater: 07876 email@example.com
- Tricia O’Rourke: 07825 920258/TORourke1@oxfam.org.uk