Football charity Kick It Out faces bullying claims

The staff at football charity Kick It Out (KIO) have been let down by their management and trustees over a failure to deal with sexual harassment, bullying and safeguarding

Kick It Out is the equality and inclusion organisation that works in the educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change. Last year it raised £868k and has 13 employees.

The Charity Commission has completed an investigation on Kick It Out which found a series of governance failures related to poor communication among the senior management and trustees of the charity.

This contributed to the slow sharing of information among the trustees after a serious incident involving a member of staff.

In September 2018, a whistleblower contacted the Commission to express concern about safeguarding, bullying and harassment at the organisation, as well as concerns about the charity’s leadership, management and culture.

The following month, Kick It Out told the Commission about a serious incident connected with the charity concerning a report of an alleged sexual assault that happened in 2017.

The Commission opened a case to assess the issues and then interviewed a number of people who had raised concerns. This information helped set the terms of reference for an independent review of the charity, commissioned by the trustees at the earliest opportunity and led by a QC (quality control).

The full copy of the report and recommendations, was completed in August 2019.

The report identified poor communication and a lack of training in key areas such as governance and staff welfare. Many staff felt they were not managed well by the senior management team, with some feeling overworked and inadequately supported.

The report made a series of recommendations including:

specialist training for senior management and trustees in relation to governance, including trustees’ welfare responsibilities;

improved communication and involvement of staff members in the on-going development of the charity’s strategy;

scaling back staff workloads to reduce burnout; and

the introduction of a more effective support system for staff to give individuals a means to raise concerns.

The charity now has a new chair and three other new trustees in post, with plan to implement recommendations within six months of the charity’s first meeting under the new board in November.

Tracy Howarth, head of regulatory compliance, 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 due to failures in communication within the charity.’

‘The Commission provided formal regulatory advice and guidance, under section 15(2) of Charities Act 2011, to the charity’s trustees to ensure the recommendations contained in the report are implemented.’

Kick It Out declined to comment.

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