Today’s revelation in the Guardian that the Alzheimer’s Society has been accused of spending £750,000 by way of non disclosure agreements to staff who have been bullied or subject to a toxic management culture makes me wonder I should have done the same thing when I was bullied out of the British Red Cross. Such was the state of my mental health when I resigned, it felt good enough just to no longer be there anymore. Perhaps, I missed out on a trick, there?
I won’t cut and paste the entire story, but you can read it by clicking on this link here. You can see that many of the details are highly disturbing, not least the £57,000 allegedly paid out to a manager accused of discrimination. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read things like this, I always think that sum included the fiver I put in a collection box at our local supermarket a few months ago.
I find it hard enough to understand how employees of the big charities can ‘earn’ the sums they do. Indeed, many of the senior managers trouser enormous six figure sums. When I was at the British Red Cross, there were 52 – 52!!! – staff members earning £60,000 or more, and the CEO himself, Mike Adamson, laughed his way to the bank with a mind-blowing annual salary of £173,000, or £3,326 a week. My opinion – and an opinion is all that it is – would be that few of these people who attract anything near these eye-watering amounts in the public or private sectors. The people who do the real work on the front line are paid a tiny fraction of Adamson’s salary and less still if they are women, in an organisation where women considerably outnumber men, at least on said frontline.
It is the bullying aspect that greatly concerns me. I thought it might just be me but it turns out not to be the case. A brief expedition through Cyberspace reveals a similar situation in many other large charities where a culture of bullying is almost the norm. I worked in the civil service for 39 years and whilst I did occasionally come across evidence of bullying, systems were in place to deal with it. Plainly some aspects of the third sector have a lot of catching up to do.
Reading the story abut the Alzheimer’s Society appals me and the charity joins the British Red Cross as being one to which I would never donate money and indeed caution others against donating.
I still have a personally written letter from Mike Adamson denying that any bullying took place when I was abused and bullied out of the British Red Cross. It has left deep scars, directly causing one of the deepest and longest bouts of depression of my entire life and Adamson said, on the basis of an in-house inquiry, and by denying, by way of lying, that it never happened, he could not even give me closure by saying sorry. I’m not sure that, say £20,000 would have made my mental health any better, though.
It seems to me that these big charities need far more effective regulation and they need to put in systems that prevent bullying from ever happening. I mean, let’s face it, if the Alzheimer’s Society was being accused of getting a member of staff to sign an NDA it would be bad enough, but £750,000 worth?
Any charitable donations I make in future will be to smaller, seemingly more accountable charities rather than the Behemoth international corporations which pay not just small fortunes to managers but very large ones. I’ll go further: some charities appear to exist to raise money and what they do with it is an afterthought.
Bitter and twisted? You bet I am, and extremely damaged, possibly irreparably. Those bullies and abusers were some of the worst people I ever met and when I was at my lowest ebb the British Red Cross occupational health service officer said my problems were caused by emotional weakness.
If this is the way of the big charities, they can do one. Even those with causes that in principle I support wholeheartedly.