Regulator criticises Kick It Out for governance and staff welfare failures

The Charity Commission says there has been poor communication and a lack of training in governance and staff wellbeing at the anti-racism group for football

Football’s anti-racism group Kick It Out has been criticised by the Charity Commission for failures in governance, communication and staff welfare.

A statement from the commission said that its review of the charity began in September 2018 after concerns were raised with the regulator about safeguarding, bullying and harassment, and about the charity’s leadership, management and culture in general.

A statement from the charity said that a month after the commission’s review of the charity commenced, Kick It Out voluntarily disclosed an allegation of sexual assault by someone external to the charity, which dated back to 2017.

An independent review was launched and paid for by the charity, and was completed and shared with the Charity Commission in August 2019.

The review was informed by the commission’s interviews with a number of people who had raised concerns about the charity, and a QC was brought in to lead the process.

The report said there was poor communication and a lack of training in governance and staff welfare.

Staff also raised concerns about poor management by the charity’s executive team, including worries about being overworked and inadequately supported.

Recommendations from the review included scaling back staff workloads and introducing a more effective support system for staff to allow them to raise concerns.

Improved communication, training for trustees and senior staff, and involving staff in developing the charity’s strategy were also recommended by the review.

But claims of bullying and harassment were rejected, Kick It Out said in a statement. It said the review found the charity provided appropriate support to the victim who reported the sexual assault.

The charity has published the recommendations of the report, but has refrained from publishing the review in its entirety because of confidentiality obligations, the statement from Kick It Out said.

A new chair has now been appointed by the charity, as well as three new trustees, and it will fully implement the recommendations before 3 May 2020.

Sanjay Bhandari, chair of Kick It Out, said in a statement: "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."

Tracy Howarth, head of regulatory compliance at the Charity Commission, said: "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 because of failures in communication within the charity.

"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 it matters how the charity delivers on its purpose just as much as what it delivers, so that it can continue to be successful and thrive in the future."

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