Charity Commission clears Barnardo's over white privilege blog

04 Aug 2021 News

Barnardo’s did not break any charity rules when it published a blog on inequality and white privilege, the Charity Commission has announced.

A group of backbench Conservative MPs complained about Barnardo's at the end of last year, after the charity shared tips about how parents and guardians could discuss racial discrimination with children.

The MPs had accused Barnardo’s of spreading “dogma”, but the regulator said it was satisfied with the board’s explanation of how the blog “furthered the charity’s objects”.

Blog complaint

In a blog published in October last year, Barnardo’s said that it had “a responsibility to raise awareness of all issues affecting children, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable”.

For beneficiaries with an ethnic minority background, “the colour of their skin is an additional factor that negatively affects them and their families in a multitude of well-documented ways”, the blog added.

The blog looked at the way white privilege could “maintain and support racist systems and structures”, regardless of individual intentions, which may make conversations about privilege “uncomfortable”.

A dozen MPs representing the Common Sense group of Conservative backbenchers subsequently raised their concerns with the Charity Commission, and said that Barnardo’s blog had replaced “compassion and generosity” with “political dogma”.

Commission: Trustees provided a ‘reasoned response’ to queries

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “We examined concerns raised with us about a blog published by the charity on ‘white privilege’. 

“Our role was to consider whether the trustees acted reasonably in line with their legal duties in making the decision to publish the blog.

“The trustees provided a reasoned response as to how the blog furthered the charity’s objects and were able to show that consideration had been given to how the blog would meet the charity’s purposes prior to its publication.”

A Barnardo’s spokesperson said: “We welcome the Charity Commission’s statement on this issue.

“As the UK’s largest children’s charity, we believe we have a legitimate role to play in encouraging an informed approach to difficult conversations about complex issues, including racism. 

“We have always spoken out on the challenges affecting the children we serve, and must continue to do so – whether on poverty, mental health, abuse and exploitation – or on the realities of prejudice and discrimination. 

“We have also listened closely to those who raised concerns with the Commission, and are keen to have an ongoing dialogue about how we can work together to continue improving outcomes for all vulnerable children across the UK.”

The decision comes five months after the Commission found that the National Trust had not broken any charity rules, when the Trust faced complaints for researching the colonial history of some of its properties.

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