Oxfam’s Chief Executive, Mark Goldring, tried to justify himself today, never a good idea. After public outrage concerning his comment that aid workers had not ‘murdered babies in their cots, his apology compounded the mistake.
We always hear about fat cats and people earning vast amounts of money, but when something bad happens, it is precisely their job to talk their charity out of the situation. Making a comment like that cannot be excused by being under pressure. Everyone feels pressure sometimes, but are not paid £128,000 a year to make the situation better (although below what he could earn in the private sector). Not making comments like that is what he is paid for!
Yes, it is very tough at the top and lonely. Unfortunately, his position today may be untenable. The statement from one MP that this did not happen under his tenure made the poor man look away. More people, namely the Executive in charge of Haiti should be brought to account. Using Haitian citizens as prostitutes after a devastating earthquake is appalling. (Please do not let any MP and certainly not the Prime Minister apologise.) We want action. Who is the UK Minister for Charities? That looks like a crisis waiting to happen; a fundamental ignorance and sweeping under the carpet of everybody in the voluntary sector.
Every Oxfam employee apologised in front of the Parliamentary Select Committee today. It must be a record, but very frustrating for the listening MP’s. Oxfam’s Trustees will be busy, doubtless, in setting a new Charity Charter with the help of the Charity Commission. As a minor volunteer, I would be aghast if anything happened to the detriment of a charity and so must Oxfam’s volunteers be thinking. So, some donors have run for the hills. Corporate donors, however, can see the bigger picture that Oxfam is a world giver, founded in Oxford, England in 1942. Now it is a confederation of 19 different charitable organisations, operating around the world, under the banner of Oxfam.
Mostly, it will be the corporate donors, Trustees, workers and volunteers who will help Oxfam to recover. I think we can expect more claims as the media chases charities for comment.
But today, my heart sings as recognition that North Lanarkshire Council in Scotland has been offering free school meals for primary school years 1-3 since 2015. Now it hopes to offer free school meals to all children 365 days a year. Holiday and weekend lunches will be served in sports halls and community centres. They noticed that children from deprived areas were underfed and the Council decided to make a difference, not only to the children, yet to their exam results. Let us hope there is agreement to implement the groundbreaking scheme at the Council meeting next Tuesday.