Versus Arthritis refers itself to the regulator over staff accounts of bullying and systemic racism

Versus Arthritis has filed a serious incident report with the Charity Commission over reports of racism and bullying within its organisation.

The charity said it is “committed to stamping out systemic racism and will be open and transparent in our progress and support people affected".

The board of trustees decided to file a serious incident report and put in measures to tackle racism after hearing employee accounts of bullying and systemic racism.

Trustees were unanimous in their support for the actions Versus Arthritis has taken to tackle racism, but one trustee resigned regarding a 'difference in opinion' on the filing of the serious incident report.

Versus Arthritis has said that it acknowledged that racism “may not have been property addressed in the past and this is not acceptable”.

Action to be taken by the charity includes:

• Appointing an independent investigator into allegations of racism.
• Review case management processes, policies and guidance around inclusion.
• Setting up a confidential helpline for people to raise concerns around racism.
• Creating “safe spaces” for staff to meet and relate any incidents.
• Inclusion and anti-racism training for all trustees and HR employees.
• Recruiting an equality and diversity specialist to lead work in this area.

“We are determined to be transparent both in reporting these alleged incidents and in steps we are taking to investigate them,” said the charity.

“Our purpose in submitting the report is to alert the Charity Commission to the ongoing investigation and to get the benefit of their advice and expertise to inform our approach.”

It added: “Versus Arthritis is determined to be anti-racist and create an inclusive and diverse charity. We know this will take time, but we will make the changes needed.”

At last month’s Charity Times Leadership Conference delegates heard from #CharitySoWhite campaign organiser Martha Awojobi about how ill-prepared many charity leaders are to tackle racism in the voluntary sector.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is among charity sector organisations to have taken action to tackle racism this year.

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