Aid charity at centre of safeguarding scandal pledges “serious and substantive action”

The interim chief executive of an aid charity says he is “deeply pained” by a safeguarding scandal that has engulfed operations it supports in Gambia.

Penny Appeal’s interim CEO Harris Iqbal said the charity is “taking serious and substantive action” after details of the safeguarding issue emerged.

The concerns centre on work with children through the charity’s partner organisation Penny Appeal Gambia.

This week Charity Times reported that the charity has referred itself to the Charity Commission and authorities in Gambia.

Igbal says that the charity’s investigation will “listen to the voices of children” adding “our organisations’s future will centre around safeguarding, best practice and rigorous oversight”.

He added: “I am deeply pained at the reports about the operations that Penny Appeal supports in The Gambia. These violate our most fundamental values as a charity that exists to better the lives of children.

“One allegation is too many. We stand against any exploitation or abuse of children.

“I want to reassure you that all of the children we support in The Gambia have now returned to their guardians, and are safe.

“However, we can, and we must, do more. Having recently been appointed to lead Penny Appeal, and as a father myself, there is nothing more important to me than our charity having the highest possible standards of care and safety.”

Action being taken includes increasing the charity’s capacity in Gambia, to support and cooperate with the country’s authorities.

In addition it is in talks with Barnardo’s to carry out “an independent root and branch review of safeguarding arrangements across Penny Appeal”, said Iqbal, who added there will be a “quadrupling” of safeguarding resources.

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