Regulator concerned over unresolved bullying allegations at Mind

12 Mar 2020 News

The Charity Commission has said that it is reassessing allegations of bullying at the mental health charity Mind.

The regulator had been made aware of concerns about the national body of Mind by a local Welsh branch of Mind in 2018-2019, and is now assessing the situation again after it received new information. 

Mind, which has a federated organisational structure, has said it is “now approaching a resolution” on the issue.

The matters raised in 2018-2019 included allegations of bullying, as well as governance and financial concerns.

At the time, the Commission determined that it was for the trustees of both charities to resolve, but it has now received new information relating to the same charities and another local Mind charity.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “We previously engaged with the charity Mind between 2018-2019 in relation to concerns raised by a local Welsh Mind branch about the national body of Mind, over matters including allegations of bullying, as well as governance and financial concerns. After engaging with the charities, and some who had raised concerns, we determined that this was a matter for the trustees of both charities to resolve.

“It's concerning that these matters are still not resolved. We are currently assessing this situation again following further information.”

The Commission said: “We are assessing information received recently relating to the same charities and another local Mind charity to determine our next steps.”

Mind: ‘We are now approaching a resolution’

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, has said that the charity is approaching resolution on these issues.

Farmer said: “We have been working with a local Mind in Wales for a number of years regarding a range of issues. Some of these issues were referred to the Charity Commission in 2018-19 and their advice was to resolve them between the trustees of both charities. 

“We are continuing with this work and we are now approaching a resolution. Due to the nature of the discussions, and to protect both parties, we are unable to comment further at this stage.”

The regulator said that in 2019 it gave advice and guidance on how the charities should manage their disagreement in their best interests. It said it was made clear that the Commission expected them to take appropriate steps to resolve the issues quickly and efficiently.

The Commission has also said that not all of the concerns raised in relation to the national Mind and its branches fell within its remit as the regulator, and where appropriate it signposted complainants to other agencies. 

The regulator told Civil Society News that it will only take action where it is evidence-based and proportionate to do so. In this case, it carried out an assessment of the concerns raised in 2018-19 and did not, at the time, identify any regulatory issues that would warrant its involvement beyond issuing advice.  

The accounts for the year ending March 2019 put the national Mind’s income at £55.9m and spending at £54.6m. Alongside that there is the network of more than 100 local Minds across England and Wales, with each local Mind operating as an independent charity and is responsible for its own funding. 

Union to meet with Mind representatives ‘to ascertain the full picture’

A Unite trade union officer is meeting with representatives at Mind this week to discuss the situation.

Unite regional officer Carolyn Simpson said: “Unite takes all allegations of bullying very seriously. I am meeting with our reps at Mind this week to ascertain the full picture currently and then we will agree on an appropriate course of action which will be conveyed to the charity’s management.”

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