Oxfam to train 119 staff to investigate safeguarding

Written by Lauren Weymouth

Oxfam has announced it is training an additional 119 staff to investigate safeguarding incidents as part of its wider action plan to tackle safeguarding across the sector.

The charity is currently working to meet a ten-point action plan it set in February to improve its safeguarding policies and practices following allegations of misconduct among aid workers in Haiti.

Since announcing the plan, it has tripled its funding for safeguarding to more than £1.75m and set up an independent commission, which is currently reviewing its culture and practices.

Beginning in October 2018, Oxfam will now report twice-yearly data on all safeguarding cases completed in the previous six months, across all members from around the world.

The charity said within the UK, all shop managers and their deputies, as well as volunteers in supervisory roles, have had enhanced DBS background checks. Seven members of HR staff in its trading division have been trained to investigate safeguarding allegations in Oxfam shops, and over 960 shop staff will have completed online safeguarding training by the end of this financial year.

The Independent Commission is currently investigating Oxfam's approach to safeguarding and will publish its findings and recommendations by May 2019.

An additional ten international NGOs and partner organisations have joined Oxfam's training courses for new investigators in six cities around the world, as part of Oxfam's plan to help improve safeguarding across the wider charity sector.

The charity claimed it has set up a central system to deal with requests for staff references, allowing cases of gross misconduct, including sexual abuse, to be clearly marked in references where this is lawful.

Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring said: “I am determined that we learn the lessons of our past mistakes and do all we can to protect our staff and the people we exist to help. The action we have taken will further strengthen Oxfam's ability to prevent, investigate and stamp out unacceptable behaviour wherever it may occur.

"But we know that we have more to do - not least in ensuring that everyone who works, volunteers or receives support from Oxfam feels empowered to challenge unacceptable behaviour. We will be working with the Charity Commission, other authorities, our own Independent Commission and across the sector to continue to make improvements."

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