Action for Children unfairly and constructively dismissed social worker, tribunal finds

Janette Coyle claimed she had been bullied and undermined by her manager at the charity’s Plymouth city centre office

An employment tribunal has ruled that Action for Children unfairly and constructively dismissed an employee who felt she had been bullied by her line manager.

Janette Coyle resigned from her role as a social work lead practitioner at the charity’s Plymouth city centre office in August 2015, after she had been made to work alone in small office with little natural light, which she said provoked anxiety because of an incident in 1997 when she had opened a door and the body of a person who had hanged themselves the day before swung into her.

She also claimed she felt bullied and undermined by her manager, Sally Kendrick, who compared her unfavourably to other staff and complained that Coyle’s team was not working quickly enough, according to the tribunal’s judgment, published last week.

The tribunal hearing took place in January, when the charity argued that Coyle had left because she was struggling with the demands of her role.

Coyle had worked for the charity since July 2014 when the charity took on the contract to run children’s centres in Plymouth, providing safeguarding and support for vulnerable children.

She had worked for the previous contract holder, Keyham Community Partnership, since September 2008 and had transferred to Action for Children when it took over.

The tribunal found the transfer of the contract had created a “significant backlog” of work for Coyle and her team and the charity had failed to resolve the problem a year later.

“The tribunal is satisfied that there was no evidence that the claimant was responsible for such issues,” the judgment said.

Anne Goraj, the tribunal judge, said in her judgment she did not believe that those managing Coyle had been made fully aware of her fear of being in the small space or of the traumatic incident with the body.

The judge said she did not believe Kendrick had deliberately intended to undermine Coyle on a number of occasions, but had been “clumsy and tactless”, which had been upsetting for Coyle, the judgment said.

The tribunal also found Coyle would “reasonably have felt distressed and undermined” by some of Kendrick’s comments.

It concluded that the charity’s management had failed to carry out a proper investigation into Coyle’s allegation of bullying and found she felt she had been shouted at by another manager, Susan Turle, in an investigatory meeting into her performance.

Before she left the organisation Coyle was being investigated over her handling of a difficult and potentially violent family, even though her actions in the situation had won her praise from Plymouth City Council’s welfare and safeguarding officer, according to the judgment.

It said the charity had been right to investigate the issue, but not to open a second investigation into the incident.

When Coyle was signed off sick with work-related stress in June 2015, the charity claimed to have found several problems in her caseload which needed to be investigated and suspended her, although it did not thoroughly explain to the tribunal what the accusations against her were.

The tribunal ruled that Coyle had been unfairly constructively dismissed and awarded her compensation, which will be decided at a later date.

It ordered an additional 20 per cent to be added to the compensation figure to reflect the fact that Coyle had not been subject to a formal disciplinary hearing when she left, had not been given full details of the accusations against her and the issue had been dealt with in an inappropriate way by the charity.

An Action for Children spokesman said: “We do not provide detailed comment on individual cases but can confirm that there was a legal dispute regarding termination of employment that was heard by an employment tribunal. These proceedings were progressed and concluded in July 2017.”

Third Sector was unable to contact Coyle for comment.

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Big Lottery Fund offers £4.5m funding to support local social action

Under the Place Based Social Action programme, organisations can apply for an initial £5,000, which could become as much as £500,000

The Big Lottery Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport are offering £4.5m of funding to projects that will support social action in local communities.

The Place Based Social Action programme, which has opened to expressions of interest, is offering up to £500,000 of funding to partnerships that will help people improve their local areas.

Guidance on the scheme provided by the BLF, which will provide funding until December 2024, says this could include activity such as helping people and organisations to take action on issues that matter to them or encouraging new ways of working so that local people have more influence over and ownership of local services.

The guidance says that applications should come from local partnerships, which could involve community members, local charities or business, or representatives from the local authority.

Each application must be endorsed by the relevant local authority and only one application can be made per local authority area.

Up to 20 applications will be selected for initial funding of £5,000 to create plans setting out how social action can help respond to local priorities.

From those successful applications, 10 will be chosen to apply for phase two, when funding of up to £240,000 will be available for each scheme.

Five of those will later be selected to apply for phase three, when an additional £255,000 will be available to each project.

Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said: “People know what are the most important matters in their local areas, and this joint funding will help communities come together and drive the change they want to see. I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact this investment will have.”

Expressions of interest can be made until 28 November.

For more information, click here.

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Charities back World Mental Health Day with action

Third Sector is itself running a series of articles online about mental health in the workplace

Scores of charities have made announcements linked to today’s World Mental Health Day, which has the theme of mental health in the workplace.

Third Sector is this week running a series of articles on the theme, which kicked off yesterday with a blog by Mark Flannagan, former chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, describing his mental health struggles.

Today Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind and chair of the charity chief executives body Acevo, has written a piece about the importance of leadership in this area.

The Guardian newspaper today carries a piece written by a novelist using a pseudonym, which calls for more people to consider volunteering for the suicide-prevention charity Samaritans. The newspaper also includes a 20-page supplement on the subject of mental health.

The men’s suicide-prevention charity Calm has partnered with the retailer Topman to launch the #DontBottleItUp campaign, designed to show men it is ok to open up about mental health issues. The campaign is supported by the new Calm ambassador Chris Hughes, who appeared on the ITV show Love Island.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has launched an advice pack for organisations and staff that contains advice on mental health in the workplace. Resources covering a range of areas, including how to recognise a possible mental health problem and how to support those living with mental ill health, can be downloaded from the RCP’s website.

The British Safety Council has today launched a series of paid-for mental health training courses designed to help organisations and their employees start conversations about mental health issues.

The Fire Fighters Charity has announced today that it has set up a new role to boost the psychological support services it provides.

The charity, which provides psychological and physical support to people in the UK fire community, has said it is recruiting a leader for its psychological services, which are provided from its three bases in England.

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Charities will not face regulatory action for failing to apply new governance code, says Sarah Atkinson

But the director of policy and communications at the Charity Commission says the regulator will use the document to determine the overall health of the organisation

The Charity Commission will not take regulatory action against charities that fail to apply the new sector governance code, but will use it to determine the overall health of the organisation, according to Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the Charity Commission.

Speaking at the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite’s annual charity and social enterprise tea party yesterday, Atkinson said that because the Charity Governance Code was voluntary, it would not form the basis for regulatory action, and said the commission was keen to avoid “regulatory creep”.

The Charity Governance Code, which was revised earlier this year, recommends a number of policies including larger charities submitting to an external reviews every three years.

Atkinson told the conference that charities would not be subject to regulatory action solely because they were not applying the code, or because they had not heard of it. 

“But we will think you are a stronger charity better equipped to face the challenges that you have if you are familiar with and applying the code,” she said. 

She said the commission would refer to the code when considering any sector-wider recommendations as part of a statutory inquiry.

“What we will take regulatory action on is our guidance set out in trustee duties,” she said.

Atkinson also said that she hoped the release of the code was “very much the start of what needs to be a process to socialise the code and create a movement around good governance”.

The code also recommends that charities review whether to retain trustees that have served nine years or more in the role, and Atkinson said it was important that decisions to keep trustees in place were taken in the best interests of the charity.

“It is important that when people want to stay for a long time, it is because the charity needs them, not because they need the charity,” she said.

“It can’t be about you – there has to be other ways you can continue to support and love that organisation. It has to be that the charity has particular need of something you can continue to bring, and continue to bring afresh.”

Philip Kirkpatrick, co-head of the charities and social enterprise team at BWB, said that it was important to balance “the need for continuity and knowledge, and the need for innovation and new ideas, and of course allowing for diversity” when deciding whether to extend trustees’ term of office past nine years.

He also said that there was a risk that the code “becomes a stick to beat people with rather than what the code team wanted it to be, which is an aspirational thing to pull people up”.

Also speaking at the conference, Rosie Chapman, chair of the Charity Governance Code Steering Group, which oversaw the redevelopment of the new code, said that she thought the latest version was realistic, but said that some charities already meeting other organisations’ governance codes, such as housing associations or sports charities, “might as well continue to meet their codes” to ensure funding remains in place.

Baroness Pitkeathley, chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, said that despite the pressures on modern trustees, the sector should be cautious about overemphasising the difficulties ahead of the benefits of trusteeship.

“I think we pile more and more responsibility onto trustees, and perhaps we should be cautious about emphasising all the possible negatives that there are in the responsibilities from being a trustee,” she said.

“I personally have had huge joy from being a trustee – I have learnt things, I have developed skills and I have had terrific experiences. I think we should always remember that when we think about the extras we are giving to trustees.”

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Stonewall urges action from passive LGBT allies as hate crime surges

Stonewall has launched its first brand campaign in 10 years to reignite the fight for LGBT equality, as new research reveals that hate crime against LGBT people has risen by nearly 80 per cent in the past five years.

The charity’s three-year initiative centres on a new slogan, “Come out for LGBT”, aimed at moving passive supporters of equality into action.

The campaign comes as a poll conducted by YouGov has found that hate crime against the LGBT community is on the rise, despite more legal rights being granted around the world. One in five LGBT people in Britain said they experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation in the past 12 months. The number of LGBT people experiencing hate crime has increased by 78 per cent in the past five years, from 9 per cent in 2013 to 16 per cent in 2017.

Ruth Hunt, the chief executive of Stonewall, said the prevalence of hate crime found by the research had surprised her. Yet there was a “huge degree of complacency” among people who stayed on the sidelines rather than showing concrete support for LGBT people, she added.

“We often encounter the idea that the fight is done now,” she said. “But there are still significant portions of society that are homophobic.”

The agency Mr President created the campaign for Stonewall, which will include a film running online and in cinemas, bus and print adverts, and social posts from influencers such as the TV presenter Sue Perkins and the vocalist Ghostpoet. Adverts feature supporters standing alongside LGBT people, such as a senior brigadier general with a gay man in his troop, with straplines including “Come out marching”, “Come out playing” and “Come out sharing”.

Merchandise such as buttons and Oyster card cases will be sold to encourage people to become visible allies, and Stonewall will also have resources on its website with suggestions for taking action.

Stonewall has run a “Get over it!” campaign since 2007 to tackle bullying. “Come out for LGBT” would not replace that initiative but would widen the charity’s message to a broader audience, Hunt said.

The new campaign reflected the direction in which Stonewall was moving, Hunt said: “Previously we were focused on securing rights for individuals. Now, although that’s still a priority, it’s about making sure we build alliances and encourage people to stand with each other.”

This article first appeared on Third Sector’s sister publication, Campaign.

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Action для Street Kids становится частью Toybox

Действие для уличных детей стало частью благотворительности для беспризорных детей Toybox, объявили организации.

Оба сотрудника Action для сотрудников Street Kids потребовали добровольной избыточности в рамках этого хода, о чем заявила пресс-секретарь Toybox, повысив экономическую эффективность и помогая более беспризорным детям.

Она сказала, что нынешний финансовый климат, который, по ее словам, был трудным для многих мелких благотворительных организаций, был одной из причин слияния.

Исполнительная команда Toybox, исполнительный директор и совет директоров останется без изменений, хотя продолжаются дискуссии о передаче членам совета директоров The Child Kids членов благотворительной организации, заявила пресс-секретарь.

В результате слияния не будет увольнений в 16-сильной команде Toybox, заявила пресс-секретарь.

Торговая марка Toybox останется, и Action для Street Kids будет включена в благотворительность, добавила она.

Передача программ действий для детей Street Kids в Toybox будет завершена к концу лета, сказала она.

Согласно сайту благотворительной комиссии, Toybox получил доход более 1,5 млн фунтов стерлингов и потратил почти 1,7 млн ​​фунтов стерлингов в год до 31 марта 2016 года.

Действие для уличных детей имело доход в размере 408 267 фунтов стерлингов и потратило 396 288 фунтов стерлингов за тот же период времени, на веб-сайте Комиссии по благотворительности.

Линн Моррис, исполнительный директор Toybox, сказала, что слияние поможет обеим благотворительным организациям привлечь больше детей и стать более эффективными.

«При вступлении в программы Action for Street Kids к игрокам Toybox мы будем расширять наш географический и оперативный охват и работать над тем, чтобы позитивно воздействовать и изменять жизнь эксплуатируемых детей во всем мире», – сказала она.

«Приоритетом обеих организаций в этом партнерстве является обеспечение того, чтобы мы защищали доставку всех наших жизненно важных услуг тем детям, которые в ней больше всего нуждаются».

Дэвид Бек (David Beck), исполнительный директор Action for Street Kids, сказал: «Возможности, подобные этому, не часто возникают, и когда вам нужно их захватить. Присоединившись к Action for Street Kids с Toybox, мы создаем более сильную Сила на благо, которая может говорить за детей, которые находятся на улице, и помогает спасти больше детей от голода, насилия и отчаяния ».

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