Adult safeguarding concerns up at Save the Children International, accounts show

The charity attributed the rise to a new anti-bullying policy, which made it easier to report concerns

Save the Children logo
Save the Children logo

Adult safeguarding concerns more than doubled at Save the Children International while child safeguarding concerns dropped by nearly a third, according to the charity’s latest accounts. 

The adult cases covered a wide range of incidents, from disrespectful comments in the workplace to bullying behaviour by line managers and misuse of power and abuse involving community members.

The number of concerns rose from 80 in 2019 to 186 in the year up to the end of December 2020, the accounts show.

Just over 150 cases related to staff and the remainder to adults in the communities where the charity works – 47 cases were substantiated and five led to dismissals. 

The charity attributed the rise to a new policy that included anti-bullying training, which led to greater awareness and made it easier to report concerns internally. 

Child safeguarding concerns, which had risen by more than half in 2019, fell by nearly a third in 2020, down from 589 to 401. More than 50 allegations were substantiated, which led to 18 dismissals and eight cases being reported to local authorities. 

Save the Children International said it had made good progress on its child safeguarding efforts including the rollout of a new e-Learning course, which saw strong training compliance.

In 2019 the charity reported a rise in the number of fraud incidents by nearly a fifth to more than 600, but this decreased by 10 per cent in 2020. 

The charity said it has continued to invest in improving awareness of fraud both in terms of prevention and reporting, and that fraud, bribery and corruption training is mandatory for every new starter.

Total income fell slightly to $1.165bn and total spending fell nearly $30m to $1.144bn. Spending on charitable activities fell by a similar amount. 

The fall in expenditure was due to Indonesia and the Philippines transitioning from Save the Children International country offices to become Save the Children associate members, the charity said. This meant their activities, spend and staff are no longer included in these accounts. 

The charity said this did not result in redundancies, but an average of 830 full-time equivalent staff were no longer included in the report. 

A spokesperson for the Save the Children International said: “With an organisation such as Save the Children, which often uses staff on specific projects of a fixed duration, there will always be staff movements, with staff numbers increasing in some regions and decreasing in others. 

“Excluding Indonesia and the Philippines, total spend in 2020 was similar to 2019, showing that even with the significant impact of Covid-19 changing how we operate, we continued to spend on our essential programmes, advocacy and campaigning for children.”

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