Aid charity refers itself to Charity Commission over safeguarding concerns

Penny Appeal has informed the Charity Commission of an alleged safeguarding issue related to work in Africa by its partner organisation Penny Appeal Gambia.

The charity has now started an investigation after being informed of the incident last week.

It has also informed “relevant authorities” in Gambia as well as the Charity Commission.

In a statement the charity said: “On 13th August 2020 Penny Appeal became aware of an alleged safeguarding issue in Gambia at a local community-based organisation supported by our partner organisation, Penny Appeal Gambia.

“As an organisation, we are truly horrified at the allegations. Protecting children and young people from harm is of the highest possible level of importance to us. We recognise and accept our responsibility to ensure our partners provide an environment which promotes the safety of our beneficiaries, especially young people, at all times.

“As such, we have started the commissioning of a full and independent investigation into all related matters. Furthermore, we are reaching out to the relevant authorities in Gambia and have informed the Charity Commission of this through a Serious Incident Report.

“All safeguarding concerns are treated with the highest level of seriousness and priority. Our primary concern has and will always be the wellbeing of those in need.”

It added: “Further updates will be posted as the investigation is underway.”

Penny Appeal was set up in 2009 and provides aid, including orphanage care and poverty relief, in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

This includes providing support for children in Gambia, Uganda, Turkey, Pakistan and Palastine, according to its latest annual report.

Safeguarding concerns

Charities are increasingly taking action to tighten their safeguarding procedures following a number of high-profile scandals to blight the sector.

This included a public outcry in 2018 over sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff in Haiti and Chad and subsequent attempts to cover it up.

Meanwhile, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) was criticised in a damning Charity Commission report for placing vulnerable children in the charity’s care at risk of harm.

According to the Charity Commission the number of serious incidents reported to the regulator increased by almost 50% over the last year.

Of the reports received almost 60% related to safeguarding concerns.

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