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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.

February 19, 2019

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New project to investigate bullying in charities

The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) has teamed up with the Centre for Mental Health to investigate bullying in the third sector.

bullyingThe two organisations will undertake a new government-funded research project, entitled Leading Safe cultures: eliminating workplace bullying in charity leadership.

It will focus on why bullying occurs in some charities and its effects on individuals.

As part of the investigation, the charities are asking those who feel able to share their experiences to complete a confidential online questionnaire.

The two groups are also looking to conduct in-depth interviews with individuals, who have experienced bullying in the sector.

In January, an interim report concluded that Oxfam had failed to tackle an environment at the charity that allowed sexual misconduct and bullying to go unchecked.

And a confidential survey undertaken by the trade union Unite last year of RSPCA staff found that almost one in three had experienced some degree of bullying in the previous 12 months.

Witnessing bullying

The survey also found 37% of respondents witnessed someone being bullied in the past year.

“Bullying unfortunately occurs in all kinds of workplaces; it is not a problem specific to the charity sector,” said ACEVO Chief Executive, Vicky Browning.

“However, in order to address it effectively within our sector we need to shine a light on it. This self-reflection will not always be comfortable but it is necessary to build a stronger sector, and more importantly to ensure the wellbeing of the staff and volunteers without whom charities would be unable to achieve their mission.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Centre for Mental Health, which is an expert at conducting high quality, impactful research in a way that is supportive of participants’ emotional wellbeing.”

The new work has been funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as part of its Protecting people from harm programme.

“Bullying in any setting is a major cause of poor mental health, as well as undermining an organisation’s performance,” added Centre for Mental Health’s Chief Executive, Sarah Hughes.

“Facing up to this sensitive topic is essential to support charities to prevent and tackle bullying at work in what are often difficult circumstances.”

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