Over 1,200 direct debits to Oxfam cancelled since Haiti scandal

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Over 1,200 direct debits to Oxfam cancelled since Haiti scandal

Oxfam has confirmed that 1,200 direct debit donations have been cancelled by members of the public since the Haiti story first broke last week.

Since The Times first broke the Haiti story last Friday, Oxfam said a total of 1,270 direct debits have been withdrawn by members of the public. Oxfam said this number was the equivalent of two months’ worth of normal cancellations and is likely to cost the charity over £140,000 this year.

Last night the charity's chief executive Mark Goldring sent an open letter to "Oxfam shoppers, supporters and volunteers" in which he "apologised unreservedly" for the scandal. 

According to the charity's latest annual accounts, for the financial year ending March 2017, it received nearly £54m from regular giving. Oxfam's total income for the year was over £400m.

Minnie Driver quits ambassador role with charity  

The news comes as actress and long-time Oxfam ambassador Minnie Driver today announced that she would be withdrawing her support for the charity in the wake of the allegations.

In a statement, Driver said: “I am nothing short of horrified by the allegations against Oxfam International.

“In no uncertain terms do I plan to continue my support of this organisation or its leaders. And though it is unfortunate that after 20 years I am no longer able to advocate and defend through this specific framework, social and economic injustice is more globally prevalent than ever.

“I certainly will not let the abhorrent mistakes of a troubling organisation stop me or anyone else from working with good people in this space to support a population of human beings around the world that needs our help.”

 

 

Driver has become the first of the charity’s 16 celebrity ambassadors to break ranks with the organisation in the wake of the scandal. Other celebrity ambassadors for the charity include Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Coldplay and Damon Albarn.

It has been reported that a number of the charity’s large corporate supporters, including M&S and Visa, are also “monitoring” the situation closely.

A spokeswoman for M&S said: “These are very serious allegations.  M&S continues to monitor the situation very closely as we seek to understand the steps that Oxfam is taking to address them and develop a robust safeguarding plan for the future.”

But Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilver, offered his support to charity on Saturday. He tweeted: "More than ever we need to support organisations like Oxfam for their incredible work to help address poverty. Doing heroic job in very difficult places. Should not be undermined by a few individuals nor sensational press. Full support needed."

 

 

'Instances of more donations'

Despite all of this an Oxfam spokeswoman said the charity had also seen an increase in single gifts since the scandal. “There were instances of more donations. On Monday, we received 78 single gifts – the highest number since Jan 1st – and 44 regular gifts, the highest since last March 2017.

“We are grateful for the support of people during this difficult time for Oxfam, some of whom have expressed that they are deeply saddened by the repercussions of the appalling actions of a few – they are determined that the millions of people that Oxfam helps worldwide don’t suffer as a result.”

Scandal summary

The charity has come under increasing pressure since The Times first published a piece accusing Oxfam of covering up a report into sexual abuse and the use of prostitutes by its employees in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti in 2011.

Former global head of safeguarding, Helen Evans also gave an interview to Channel 4 on Monday night where she criticised the charity for under resourcing her team and for ignoring a report she had compiled on the issue of sexual abuse in three different regions by Oxfam aid staff. She also said that volunteers in Oxfam shops had also reported being abused.

The charity’s former deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence, resigned yesterday after it emerged she had been the programme director in Haiti at the time the allegations took place. Pressure has also been mounting on current chief executive Mark Goldring. 

Senior representatives from the charity and from the Charity Commission also met with Penny Mordaunt, international development secretary on Monday. Mordaunt questioned the charity's "moral leadership" and whether or not the government would continue to partner with the charity as part of its international aid spending commitments. 

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