Statement from Human Appeal CEO Dr Ashmawey in response to the Charity Commission inquiry report

The following statement refers to today’s publication of the Charity Commission inquiry report into Human Appeal:

Human Appeal CEO Dr Mohamed Ashmawey said:

“We welcome the Charity Commission's conclusion of the statutory inquiry and its decision that there are no grounds for further regulatory action involving the charity.

“Human Appeal has been transformed by the fundamental changes that we have implemented over the last three years, with the full support of the current chair who commissioned the original independent inquiry and proactively alerted the Charity Commission in the weeks after his appointment in 2017.

“Several issues raised in the Commission’s report were already being addressed when the inquiry launched. We have subsequently addressed other issues and ensured continued attention for issues which demand an ongoing focus. Beyond this, we have fostered a culture of zero tolerance for breaches of our policies and strive for continuous improvement in all we do.

“However, we welcome both the guidance that the Commission has provided and its acknowledgement of the “significant improvements” and transformations in governance, monitoring and evaluation of the executive leaders’ performance that have put the charity on a ”firmer footing”.

“We also welcome its public recognition of improvements in Human Appeal’s management and controls and that all the charity’s funds are accounted for.

“We cherish above all else the continued trust and support of our donors who have enabled us to reach a fantastic 3.6m people, double our income in 2020/ 2021 and last month alone enabled us to raise £1.2 million from a single event– something no other UK Muslim charity has ever achieved.

“We will complete the process of transforming Human Appeal into a model charity. As we move on, we will continue to put transparency and accountability at the heart of what we do and now focus all our efforts on saving lives and supporting vulnerable communities in complex and challenging environments around the world.”

View the full Charity Commission report

ENDS

Note to Editors

• We have made substantial changes to our governance, policies, leadership team, decision-making, risk and controls, and our systems since the issues first emerged in late 2017.

Governance and accountability

• Enhanced procedure for new staff with a week-long induction process, covering codes of conduct, policies, procedures and performance management.

• Strengthened weekly Board meetings with the introduction of more robust minuting and a structured agenda that features compliance and auditing issues as the top two priority agenda items.

• Hired legal representation in all our global offices, ensuring high standards and observation of legislation across our work.

• Launched a dedicated Global HR team to guarantee a human resources structure across all offices.

• Introduced a new project-monitoring dashboard for institutionally funded projects to compliment the periodic meetings, project review reports and external auditing process.

• All institutionally funded projects are reviewed centrally on a regular basis, income is monitored weekly and all grant agreements are signed off by the CEO.

Risk management and reporting

• Strengthening of our processes in relation to serious incident reporting (SIR), enhancing trustee understanding of the SIR process.

• Improved risk management register, which is updated weekly.

• Basic DBS disclosures completed for key staff members in line with our new Disclosure of Criminal Offences and Convictions Policy.

• Development of comprehensive monthly financial reporting from each country office which has received active endorsement from our external financial auditors, and, as a result, is improving the financial management and oversight of all of our country offices.

• Introduction of a more robust auditing function, including internal and external audits across the Human Appeal family of offices.

• Introduced a new complaints policy and process flow for supporters, with issues dealt with on a weekly basis.

• Strengthened reporting mechanisms through the introduction of a ‘’Speak out’’ dedicated email and live local hotlines which allow all staff to raise concerns, report serious incidents or acts of malpractice and corruption.

• Improved project reporting – including monthly reports, completion of governance reporting sheets and the delivery of annual and operational country office plans.

Systems, policies and procedures

• Improved our analysis and financial control of all donations by successfully launching and integrating the Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, which we also rolled out in our offices in Spain, Ireland, and in France.

• Prioritised and improved transparency and accountability by introducing a trained Policies Committee which ensures our 52 policies have a process map, and that staff receive updated annual policy training.

• Following extensive staff consultation, we updated and developed a new employee handbook, which features key employee policies, including policies to support whistleblowing, serious incident reporting, diversity, inclusion, and staff wellbeing.

• Launched a dedicated policies section on our website.

• Rolled out an integrated human resources software in the UK and country offices to facilitate smoother communication of day-to-day HR activities and issues.

• Introduction of project-based service level agreements to ensure donor funds are utilised effectively.

• Rigorous fund transfer process introduced, including a funding agreement for each project.

• Integrated Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams to streamline Human Appeal’s document management and internal communication.

• Rolled out of Humentum, a leading e-learning system providing over 10,000 free courses for UK and international staff.

Capability, capacity and leadership

• Following a transitional period, we hired permanent critical staff roles to lead changes to the charity’s culture, including Finance Director, Legal Counsel, International Programmes Director, Communications Director, Community Fundraising Director, Head of Donor Care, Head of Fund Development Middle East, International Head of Programmes, Programmes Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, and International Financial Controller.

• Established a global reporting structure – including a primary reporting line for all country office staff to their Country Director, coupled with a second reporting line to a global technical lead based on Human Appeal HQ. In addition, all country offices now also report to their HQ counterparts.

• Developed a new structure in our Programmes Department – including sectoral specialists - to increase the experience and seniority of department staff.

• Hired nine new international staff members, including those to support safeguarding, security and finance.

• Expansion of Audit Team who directly report to the Audit Committee on a monthly basis and the Board of Directors on a weekly basis.

• In order to assess and improve our global offices, we developed a global competency model for all offices with detailed leadership competencies governing how we behave and how we put our values into action every day.

• Our Programmes Department integrated weekly interdepartmental meetings to facilitate effective collaboration, communication, and a programme-led focus.

• Assigned and comprehensively trained six safeguarding representatives across the organisation to support and protect diverse needs. In all, we have safeguarding representatives covering child welfare, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.

• Took steps to improve our workplace culture by strengthening our HR team, promoting our whistleblowing and safeguarding processes, integrating accountability and transparency, building staff capacity, implementing new employee policies, and appointing new, more diverse trustees.

• Quarterly insight sessions from each country office to foster better communication and collaboration.

• A commitment to clear values, delivering excellence, great communication, accountability, transparency, and ongoing staff development and support led to Investors in People awarding Human Appeal with a silver accreditation last year, following an extensive assessment. Silver is a fantastic achievement and something only 20 per cent of the organisations assessed achieve.

The Investor in People Assessors said:

“Human Appeal has experienced rapid growth and its people enjoy working for an organisation with an ambition to alleviate poverty and enable those less fortunate to be able to improve their lives for a better future. The speed of growth has resulted in a few challenging years in that greater levels of structure, systems and support have needed to be put into place to keep pace with the growth and the changing world around… The current leadership team is relatively new, yet highly experienced in their specific roles, which is bringing a fresh perspective to how the teams are led and supported. Many of the leaders are seen as positive role models.

“The People and Culture team have been instrumental in overhauling the employee experience from recruitment, progression, recognition, reward, performance management and development. Current systems in place are now more transparent, fair and equitable and this is impacting on reducing turnover, improving morale and creating a more engaged and productive workforce.”

• Introduced Mandatory Code of Conduct training for new starters and existing staff including annual refresher training.

• Introduced an international HR training manual for all HA leads in each country office, followed by a global training workshop.

• Recruitment processes and interviews now include mandatory questions on competencies and values.

• Measurable performance and professional development appraisal targets for all staff, with each being held accountable against them.

• Conducted a staff culture survey to inform changes within the charity.

• Ensuring performance management processes now have a greater focus on how employees work as well as what they deliver.

• Senior Leadership Team subjected to a comprehensive annual 360 degree assessment.

• Provided a leadership and management training conference for all senior management from across our global offices, with a focus on improving communication, accountability, controls and risk management.

For more information please contact press@humanappeal.org.uk.

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