19 Jul 2019

The Charity Commission recently published the findings of its inquiry into Oxfam GB

The Commission concludes "No charity is more important than the people it services or the mission it pursues", stating that Oxfam GB's "governance and culture with regard to safeguarding has repeatedly fallen below standards expected and failed to meet promises made".

The report includes wider lessons that are applicable to all charity trustees, not just those who oversee work in an international context.

In summary, the key lessons are:

  • Trustees must understand the risks to their charity and make sure those risks are properly managed, the higher the risk, the greater the oversight needed
  • Protecting people and safeguarding responsibilities should be a governance priority for all charities
  • Failure to take reasonable steps to protect people cannot be excused by the difficult context in which a charity is working, nor can incidents of harm be justified by the importance of the cause
  • An effective culture of keeping people safe identifies, deters and tackles behaviours which minimise or ignore harm to people and cover up or downplay failures. Failures should be identified, lessons learned, there should be full and transparent disclosure, and consequences for anyone whose conduct falls short of what is required
  • People who raise concerns should be taken seriously and treated with respect and sensitivity and there should be a proper process for raising concerns
  • Dealing properly with incidents of harm to people will ultimately protect the charity's reputation in the long term
  • Charities must never lose sight of why they exist and must demonstrate how their charitable purpose drives everything they do, especially how they respond when things go wrong


You can download the full report from the Charity Commission website

If you have any questions or concerns about safeguarding in your organisation, don't hesitate to get in touch with our free Safeguarding service by email  safeguarding@wcva.org.uk  or telephone 0300 111 0124 (option 6)