Islamic Relief has emphasised its commitment to preventing and tackling sexual exploitation and abuse and has set out the steps it is taking to protect vulnerable people following a Safeguarding Summit in London on March 5.
The summit was co-hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Charity Commission, with support from the international development network Bond and the involvement of Islamic Relief alongside regulatory bodies, safeguarding experts and representatives of many other international development charities.
“There is nothing more important to us than protecting the beneficiaries we serve and our staff and volunteers from exploitation and abuse,”
says Naser Haghamed, CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide, who attended the summit.
“We have signed up to a joint statement issued at the end of the summit that sets out what the aid sector will be doing collectively to improve safeguarding, and on our website we are also publishing the specific measures that Islamic Relief itself is taking. The most important thing is to follow through with these commitments, something that I and the Board of Trustees are determined to do.”
You can read the joint statement in full here.
Islamic Relief’s existing policies and procedures to protect vulnerable people prior to the Summit included the:
- organisation’s child protection and gender justice policies,
- its staff code of conduct and disciplinary policy, which together identify sexual exploitation and abuse as matters of gross misconduct,
- the child protection focal person it has in place for reporting concerns in each field office,
- and its confidential and impartial complaints procedure.
It has also previously drafted a new policy on sexual exploitation and abuse which is scheduled for roll-out in the second quarter of 2018, with a mandatory online training module planned for all staff.
In addition to these existing measures the CEO has announced the following actions:
- The Chair of Trustees, Lamia El Amri, has been designated as safeguarding lead at board level, to spearhead change
- A new dedicated safeguarding email address has been established for raising concerns
- Islamic Relief will develop an inhouse investigation team to follow up on safeguarding concerns
- By the end of March the organisation will form a safeguarding advisory group, including specialists in safeguarding and programme delivery
- We will make the process of raising safeguarding issues more clear and simple – including clarification of the different approaches for general complaints, safeguarding concerns and whistleblowing
- We will enhance our whistleblowing policy and a system for whistleblowers to raise concerns, knowing that they will be dealt with confidentially and impartially
- We will roll out mandatory training on safeguarding and incorporate a new strand of safeguarding policy related to vulnerable adults
- We will participate in the working groups on a variety of issues established by DFID at the Safeguarding Summit
- We will begin to report numbers of serious safeguarding cases in our annual report from 2018 onwards
- We will review our reference policy and protocols and are working with Save the Children and others on an important joint ‘passporting’ initiative: establishing a mechanism for NGOs to recruit from a database of sector professionals who have had their employment and criminal records checks verified.
If you would like to get in touch with us on any of the issues raised above, we would be happy to hear from you via our contact page.