Shaw Trust puts international work on back burner

Volte-face comes two years after risk warnings

The Shaw Trust is to stop developing its international work and focus solely on its work in the UK. The decision comes two years after former chief executive Ian Charlesworth was dismissed for warning that the charity's overseas expansion plans were too risky.

Charlesworth was suspended five days after telling trustees that a proposed move into the Australian welfare-to-work market could jeopardise the charity's finances and reputation.

A year later, the trust, which is the largest voluntary sector provider of employment services for disabled people, merged with Australian charity Interwork. It already had partnerships with Integracja in Poland and Motivation in Romania.

An email to staff last month said the trust would "not develop our international work any further until we have achieved some consolidation in the UK", and that it would be focusing on developing new services in the UK. It said international director Bernie Jones would leave at the end of June.

Almost the entire senior management team at the trust has departed in the past two years.

A spokeswoman for the trust said the decision to focus on the UK was due to economic factors and cuts in public spending.

"It is logical that the trust focuses on supporting clients, employers and partners in the UK for the short to medium term," she said.

She said Charlesworth's dismissal was a separate matter and that circumstances since then had changed.

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