Cardiff charity says “moral leadership” will restore public faith in sector

A Cardiff based charity has promised to show “moral leadership” to regain public trust in the sector.

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A quick recap of the Oxfam scandal which rocked public faith in charities.

United Purpose, a Cardiff based charity has said that “moral leadership” is required in the wake of the “Oxfam scandal” to restore public trust in the charity sector.

In the immediate aftermath of the revelations that Oxfam chiefs covered up the use of prostitutes by their own staff, 7,000 people cancelled their donations to the charity.

Acknowledging that public confidence in charities had been damaged, United Purpose’s CEO, Kathryn Llewellyn, said “It is only right that we as individual organisations, and as a whole sector, are being asked to demonstrate the principles, standards and values that we guide ourselves by…This is moral leadership and something I do not shy away from.”

Oxfam staff used prostitutes in Haiti whilst providing aid to survivors of the 2010 earthquake. Image by Colin Crowley reproduced with CC licence

One former Oxfam donor, Louise, a Healthcare support worker from Cardiff said, “It puts you off giving to charity. I don’t give money to Oxfam anymore. Even if they improved their safeguarding I can’t say whether I’d definitely give to them again because they’ve betrayed my trust.”

Then Oxfam head of operations in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren was among those implicated in using prostitutes whilst working there in 2010. Oxfam failed to notify other development agencies who subsequently hired him.

Further allegations that more than 120 charity workers from across the industry were accused of sexual abuse in the last year further shook public confidence in the third sector.


Some members of the public refuse to donate to Oxfam as a consequence of the allegations. Image by Michael Coghlan reproduced with a CC licence.

Earning trust is particularly important for a charity as giving is a voluntary act where organisations rely on the goodwill of donors as opposed to traditional consumers.

Dr Catherine Walsh, a lecturer specialising in corporate trust at Cardiff University said “No one must engage with Oxfam, people only chose to do so, and simply won’t if they think it’s operating in an immoral way. This is especially acute in the voluntary sector, where expectations of morality are high, and no one who donates to Oxfam needs to do so.”

Oxfam work all over the world with refugees such as in the Ali Hussein camp in the horn of Africa. Photo courtesy of Oxfam, reproduced with CC licence.

Evidence is emerging however that the erosion in public trust in the third sector may only be bound to Oxfam. A study conducted by Harris Interactive showed that 61% of people said that the scandal had not changed their perceptions of charities in general.

Jayne a retail assistant from Cardiff said, “Just because there are a couple of bad eggs doesn’t mean that the whole place should be ruined because of it. If someone is caught stealing from a shop you don’t punish everyone in the shop.”