"Firstly, it is important to say that the revelations around sexual exploitation over the past few weeks have shaken us to our foundations. And even though in our experience it’s the actions of a small minority, we cannot allow any behaviour by individuals within our own sector that harms the people we were set up to help. We have an urgent duty to those we seek to help, staff and supporters to respond to this wake-up call robustly.
Most of the NGOs attending today's summit will have seen and signed up to the letter which was published in The Times and Huffington Post last weekend. This letter highlighted our commitment to a series of urgent measures – some are about strengthening existing practices but we are also calling on leadership across the sector to ensure that commitments are turned into action. These commitments include encouraging people to come forward to report unacceptable behaviour, increasing resourcing for safeguarding, reviewing referencing systems, working with authorities and regulatory bodies to make sure those caught abusing their power can’t do so again, and working with the Government to overcome institutional and legal barriers around background checks.
Smaller NGOs will require support in terms of resources and capacity building, and we are only going to see the level of success we need to see if we work together and ensure this is an inter-agency effort. That is how real change can and will happen.
These are initial steps, but it is important that we send a clear message to those who experience or witness any form of abuse that they must speak out and we will take action. Any increase in numbers speaking out means we are getting that critical message across.
The sector is taking this very, very seriously, and Bond is working with members closely to make sure it is tackled head-on. Today’s meeting with NGOs, DFID, the Charity Commission and regulatory bodies is a critical part of taking the next step forward together."
Notes to Editor
- Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 450 civil society organisations and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
- For further information please contact Maryam Mohsin, email@example.com or 07555 336029