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Resigning in disgust as a CIoF Volunteer

Trigger warning: References to sexual assault/harassment

I've been a volunteer with the CIoF for over 8 years. And I've never been more disgusted to have my name associated with an organisation as I have been over the last few months.

The crux of the issue is that several women have reported sexual assault and/or harassment by people associated with the IoF...and not enough has been done. Not only have these women not been protected and supported, but they have not been believed or listened to.

This is outrageous. And I'm angry.

I'm angry about the specifics and for the individuals concerned. I'm angry that this has been allowed to happen. I'm angry that insensitive messages were shared with awful timing on the night of Sarah Everard's vigil, when women were already hurting - watching our sisters facing further atrocities and police brutality.

I'm hurting for every new thing I hear or find out. At every case of injustice, at every lie and at every time someone has to recount their story again only to not be listened to or taken seriously.

This most recent statement from IoF, that their former CEO had been "cleared of any wrongdoing" and the follow up confirming it was because "he was not made aware of that complaint" was the final straw.

Multiple people have told me they told Peter directly about things that had happened to them. I believe them. As IoF should have done.

The CIof keep hiding behind the line of ‘no formal complaint was ever made’ - if someone comes to you and says 'this is what happened to me', don’t make them jump through hoops and go through processes.

Meet them where they are, and most importantly believe and support them first and foremost.

Then go through whatever processes you need to internally.

One woman told me that she feels IoF are 'hiding behind the protection of those who made the comment as their reason for not publishing the report. I was never asked if I wanted this protection afforded to me. I will waive it happily to ensure there is due scrutiny of the detail of this.'

Why isn't IoF actually engaging with survivors in how this was communicated?

My biggest issue is how appallingly Peter and the CIoF have communicated this and how it may make survivors feel unseen, unheard or invalidated.

The lack of humanity, understanding, putting survivors first and demonstration that they believe people has been frankly appalling - it’s being screamed at them from across the sector and they still seem oblivious.

If things have gone wrong at a senior level in an organization, you need to hold your hands up and say 'we’ve got this wrong and this is what we’re going to do about it.'

IoF need to understand that the implication of these communication is that survivors are again feeling the trauma and awfulness of not being heard, not being believed.

There is a lack of humanity in how this has been dealt with.

Everything they do is not putting survivors at the heart of it and that flies in the face of their commitment in March.

It's completly at odds with the statement from the Board of Trustees a few months ago which says the following:

"Sexual harassment is never acceptable, and every single instance must be treated seriously and with respect and sensitivity. The culture change that is needed must put your safety first. Our starting point must be to always believe in people who come forward."

It also says they commit to:

  • Do no harm first. That the Chartered Institute and the profession has to be a place where everyone is safe;

  • Believe all those who come forward. Make it safe, simple and supportive if people disclose. Make that process a fair and balanced one;

  • Listen, learn and work to share progress openly, honestly and transparently. We know that this is vital to rebuild trust and also to create systemic change.

Clearly they haven't done any of the above because:

  • They didn't consider the impact on victims when they released the statement about the result of the investigation

  • They didn't even put a trigger warning on the messaging on their site or on the social media postings

  • They aren't being transparent because the statement doesn't explain anything about the context of the report, nor does it explain the findings clearly, and they aren't releasing the statement

And in addition, I'm angry at how much this is costing our sector. In March, and again now I and many others have spent weeks trying to work out what to do.

Calls, emails, WhatsApp groups, social media and meetings. Supporting each other, standing in solidarity with survivors and trying to make sure the emotional labour of leading this fight was shared with allies and didn't only sit on the shoulders of survivors.

If you could measure the amount of work, hours and expertise that were lost it would be atrocious. How many hours have charities lost that could have been spent fundraising, advocating and working to change the world?

All to try and fight the injustice caused by our governing body? Our "Chartered Institute" which is meant to represent fundraisers? Well I tell you this - they don't represent me.

I believe survivors. I stand with you. I will do everything I can to support you.

But as a wise friend reminded me this morning; anger isn't enough. They're not listening to our rage and our outcries. So what do we do? How do we channel this anger into making a difference?

We do what we've always done. We come together. We work together. We support each other and build each other up. We find solutions and we find answers. And we don't let the enormity of the injustices stop us. We are fundraisers. We are going to change the world. Even if we have to start with our own representative body first.

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