More than three years have gone by since I was the victim of bullying and abuse by the British Red Cross. Two particular members of staff, aided and abetted by other members of staff, made my new working life hell, to the extent that my depression surged to new depths and I lost confidence and belief in myself. I have anguished long and hard about how things came about and whether I was in any way to blame for what happened. I am satisfied that I wasn’t. The British Red Cross was a nasty, vindictive employer to me and it has been a long road to get myself back to a place that vaguely resembles my old normal. But I am getting there.
I have written a number of letters to highly paid CEO Mike Adamson but he only replied to one and in that he denied any bullying or abuse had taken place. Presumably, I made it all up. I must have made it up when after I was bullied the local managers sent me to work out of what was little more than a broom cupboard in Easton as punishment and again when I was sent to the Occupational Health Officer in a deep depression and was informed I was “emotionally weak”. The British Red Cross, mind you. A international humanitarian charity, mind you.
Family and friends supported me throughout these dark days during and after my British Red Cross experience to the extent that some cancelled their Red Cross subscriptions and others have refused to donate money to them. Quite apart from the way they treated me, there are a myriad of different reasons you should not give money to this multimillion pound charity business corporation. Some of them are to be found here. They do some good work with refugees and asylum seekers but they are very much for the short term. I prefer these days to donate to smaller, more local charities, especially those who unlike the British Red Cross don’t have legions of highly paid desk bound managers.
I have asked Mr Adamson on countless occasions for an apology. I have in depth records of the bullying and abuse directed at me by his staff but he doesn’t want to see them. He wants it all to just go away and if he simply ignores me, he thinks I will. And he’s probably right. I am one man up against a behemoth international charity business with immense power. Hell will freeze over before Mr Adamson apologises. So, I am trying somehow to move on.
I do not want the British Red Cross to define the rest of my life. Until I worked for them, I had never before experienced bullying and abuse at work. Mostly, I had worked in a professional environment with well-trained and competent managers. When I started at the British Red Cross, my managers were well-trained and competent but they left and were replaced by a person who could not manage to successfully run a bath. For three years, I have been unable to move on, despite much therapy but, during this long lockdown, I have made my own plans and decisions.
I was the good guy at the British Red Cross. I visited lonely and isolated people in the countryside and made their lives better, if only for a short time. I helped people with cancer, dementia, Parkinsons and all manner of conditions in a job I would have liked to have done forever. Bullies and abusers stopped that happening. The British Red Cross did not just ruin my life, it made the lives of vulnerable people worse. For a charity, the latter is unforgivable. But hey, the bullies and abusers did all right. Some left for even better jobs outside the third sector, others gained lucrative promotions. They didn’t care at all. I did. They never saw the lonely and isolated people. I did.
Now, I think I’m on the other side of what happened. My depression is always there, of course, but they can’t bully or abuse me anymore. I know when I worked for them I was on the moral high ground and they were in the sewers. I saw one of the local British Red Cross managers – not one who abused me – in Sainsburys a few months ago, just before lockdown. She saw me and scurried off in a different direction. It was not a coincidence. I made a point of tracking the person down and saying the politest ‘Hello. How are you?’ I could manage. She said ‘Hello’, smiled and looked to the floor, walking off. She knew and I knew.
I won’t every forgive the British Red Cross for the way they treated me. And I’ll keep writing to Mike Adamson until he has the decency and guts to say sorry. If he does, you, dear reader, will be the first to know. In the meantime, if you wish to give to charity then why not give it to one that doesn’t have massive overheads and legions of highly paid bean counting managers and allow staff to be bullied. The British Red Cross wanted me to go away and I did. But I haven’t forgotten and never will. They employed some of the worst people I ever came across. Giving them money just encourages them. Don’t encourage them.