Charity told to play down links with Ugandan foundation

Pearl of Africa Children's Choir investigated after partner organisation is caught up in sexual assault case

The Charity Commission has told trustees of an education and poverty relief charity in Uganda that they must ensure their independence from a partner organisation after a volunteer was allegedly subjected to a sexual assault.

The commission launched a regulatory compliance case into the Pearl of Africa Children's Choir, a UK-based organisation, in July. It was reacting to a report that a volunteer had been sexually assaulted by an employee at the Molly and Paul Childcare Foundation, a Uganda-based foundation affiliated to the charity.

The member of staff accused of sexual assault was suspended but has since been reinstated. The Ugandan police have not brought any charges.

Concerns were raised with the commission about the safety of volunteers and beneficiaries and whether the trustees had proper measures in place to mitigate the risks to them.

The charity does not run its own volunteering programme, but signposts interested individuals to the Molly and Paul Childcare Foundation.

A report on the case concluded that the charity was not responsible for people volunteering for the foundation. But it said the extent of the charity's involvement with the volunteering programme should have been more clearly expressed on its website and literature.

"The trustees need to take steps to ensure that the charity's independence from the foundation is clear in its literature, website and decision-making," the report says.

Chris Paxman, treasurer of the Pearl of Africa Children's Choir, said the commission had made helpful recommendations that would improve the charity's operational standards.

"These will further aid our objective of supporting severely disadvantaged people, in particular the children in the care of the Molly and Paul Childcare Foundation, which does remarkable work despite scarce resources," he said.

 

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