Trustees at Kick It Out were slow to share information surrounding a serious incident involving a member of staff, the Charity Commission has said.
The regulator has concluded its compliance case into Kick It Out, an equality and inclusion organisation for English football, and published its findings today.
Kick It Out works in the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change. It has already taken a number of steps to address the issues that have been raised and committed to reviews of strategy and governance.
In September 2018, people associated with the charity contacted the Commission “to express concern about safeguarding, bullying and harassment at the organisation, as well as concerns about the charity’s leadership, management and culture”.
Kick It Out then told the Commission about a serious incident connected with the charity concerning a report of an alleged sexual assault that happened in 2017.
The Commission interviewed a number of people who had raised concerns. It said: “This information helped set the terms of reference for an independent review of the charity, commissioned by the trustees at the earliest opportunity and led by a QC.”
A full copy of the report, which included recommendations, was provided to the Commission in August 2019.
The report found “evidence of poor communication and a lack of training in key areas such as governance and staff welfare”.
It also found that “many staff felt they were not managed well by the senior management team, with some feeling overworked and inadequately supported”.
‘Everyone involved in charities has the right to feel safe’
Tracy Howarth, head of regulatory compliance at the Commission, said: “We recognise the role this charity has in tackling racism and all forms of discrimination in football. Just as in football, everyone involved in charities has the right to feel safe.
“The trustees of Kick It Out should have made protecting those who came into contact with their charity from harm a governance priority. The charity did not fully deliver on this expectation, largely due to failures in communication within the charity,” she added.
The report made a series of recommendations including specialist training for senior management in relation to trustees’ welfare responsibilities, scaling back staff workloads to reduce burnout and introducing a more effective support system.
The charity now has a new chair and three other new trustees in post. The Commission said it expects all of the recommended changes to be implemented within six months from the date of the charity’s first meeting as a new board which is being held early November.
Howarth said: “The trustees are being held to account and they continue to make the significant changes at their charity that we know are already underway. We are sure the charity will learn from this experience. It is because of the importance of Kick It Out’s work, particularly in the current climate, that the trustees understand that it matters just as much how the charity delivers on its purpose, as what it delivers, so that it can continue to be successful and thrive in the future.”
Kick It Out: ‘We have already commenced implementing the recommendations of the independent review’
Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out’s new chair, said: “The board and I welcome the conclusion and closing of the case opened by the Charity Commission. We have already commenced implementing the recommendations of the independent review and our new board is fully committed to completing that exercise thoroughly.
“The recurring theme of the report, and the root cause of governance challenges, were around breakdowns in communications. The board accepts and welcomes the recommendations. We have learned from this experience and have a refreshed board where half of the members have been appointed in the last six weeks, including myself,” he said.
He added: “We started work on implementing the recommendations some months ago and are committed to completing this programme by 3 May 2020. This will include a formal governance review and a strategic review. We are pleased that the case has concluded and we are able to focus on our primary purpose: to tackle discrimination in football.”