Oxfam whistleblower becomes autism charity’s first CEO

Oxfam safeguarding whistleblower Helen Evans is to become the first CEO of autism charity PDA Society since it registered five years ago.

The charity provides information, support and training about Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) a profile on the autism spectrum.

The appoint for Evans, who is openly autistic, marks a “major milestone in the PDA Society’s history” said chair Sally Russell.

“Understanding of PDA has come a long way since the PDA Society was founded, however many professionals still don’t recognise PDA,” said Russell.

“This postcode lottery is a huge barrier to individuals receiving the understanding and support they need, which is leading to unnecessarily poor outcomes for this group of autistic people and their families.

“With the appointment of our first chief executive, we look forward to furthering our reach and remit to improve acceptance of PDA.”

Evans, who starts at the charity later this month, added: “I know through personal experience the enormously positive difference the PDA Society is making to the lives of the PDA community.

“The information resources, training, enquiry line and other services are one of a kind and a lifeline for many.

“It’s a great privilege to join the charity as their first chief executive and to support the Trustees to further the charity’s mission.”

Evans joins from medical charity Dravet Syndrome UK, where she has been a director since 2019.

She is a former global head of safeguarding at Oxfam GB and reported concerns about safeguarding at the charity to the Charity Commission in 2015, when she left the charity.

In 2017 she assisted the regulator, MPs and government in their inquiries into safeguarding concerns at the charity. She received the 2018 Whistleblower of the Year Award from Middlesex University.

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