New project will research bullying in charities

The government is providing funding for the scheme, which is being carried out by the charity leaders body Acevo and the Centre for Mental Health

(Photograph: Getty Images)
(Photograph: Getty Images)

The charity chief executives body Acevo and the Centre for Mental Health are to conduct a joint project that will examine bullying in the voluntary sector.

The research project, which is called Leading Safe Cultures: Eliminating Workplace Bullying in Charity Leadership, will focus on understanding why bullying happens in charities, its impact on individuals and why the behaviour is not challenged.

The project will focus on examples of bullying over the past five years and specifically on the role of leadership and culture in bullying behaviour, Acevo said in a statement.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has provided £73,000 of funding for the project as part of a wider £2m programme of work focusing on protecting people from harm in the charity sector, in the wake of media stories last year about sexual exploitation, harassment and bullying.

The research starts today and the final report is due in May. 

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, has been asked by Mims Davies, the Minister for Civil Society, to be the bullying and harassment lead for the programme group providing oversight and scrutiny.

Browning said: "Bullying unfortunately occurs in all kinds of workplaces. It is not a problem specific to the charity sector. 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 missions."

Sarah Hughes, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said: "Bullying in any setting is a major cause of poor mental health, as well as undermining an organisation’s performance.

"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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