From: Robert Cowan
The statement made by Mike Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam UK, that the scale and intensity of the criticism of his charity in the light of
sexual misconduct by some of his workers is disproportionate, was
clearly defensive but underlines his lack of understanding of the
extent of public concern this problem has caused.
When he then added that it was not as if aid workers had ‘murdered babies in their cots’, it was not difficult to detect a smack of arrogance on his part. Although he did apologise for certain failings and accepted that reforms were needed, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has acted appropriately in getting Oxfam to withdraw from bidding for government funding, at least until it gets its house in order.
Public confidence in major charities has undeniably been dealt a severe blow, as shown by the large numbers of recent cancellations of direct debits and standing orders made to these organisations, and several high-profile celebrities have now withdrawn their patronage.
But amidst all the hue and cry surrounding the present scandal involving Oxfam and some other charities, it is important not to lose track of the sterling work done with commitment and integrity by the majority of aid workers both in the field and at home, from those working tirelessly and often in great personal danger in disaster zones to those giving of their free time to serve in charity shops.
As is so often the case, the misdemeanours of the few can so easily tarnish the reputation of the many, and I feel genuinely sorry for all those hard-working and dedicated people in whatever role in the charity sector who now find themselves the focus of governmental and public scrutiny through no fault of their own.