Academics at Middlesex University have presented Helen Evans, former Global Head of Safeguarding at Oxfam, with their UK Whistleblower Award for 2018.
In 2018, Helen blew the whistle on the systemic sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by Oxfam aid workers. Her revelations were one of the biggest charity scandals in recent years.
While Helen worked at Oxfam GB she pleaded for more safeguarding investment and quit in frustration in 2015 when her request fell on deaf ears. She took her concerns to the Charity Commission, yet despite the seriousness of her revelations, they took little action. She went public with a Channel 4 news interview in 2018 when the matter came to national attention following a Times investigation. Her disclosures, and those from others, led to two public inquiries by the International Development Select Committee and Charity Commission.
She said, “The decision to whistleblow was the hardest decision of my life. The impact on my life and my family’s life has been considerable. Yet it doesn’t come close to the devastating impact of sexual abuse perpetrated by aid workers.
“Despite what’s happened I still believe in the charity sector and have confidence the vast majority of aid workers are there for all the right reasons. The sector though must change, and never again approach safeguarding with such complacency”.
Helen has recently taken up post as Chief Executive of a medical charity and has chosen to share today’s Award with the NGO Safe Space. This organisation was founded by Shaista Aziz and Alexia Pepper de Caires in March 2018 to gather testimonies on sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse in the humanitarian aid and international development sector, to provide solidarity to survivors and victims, and to seek accountability and redress.
Professor David Lewis, Head of the University’s Whistleblowing Research Unit, said, “Helen’s persistence and courage were key factors in her winning this Award”.
Protect would also like to congratulate Helen as well as thank her for speaking up to stop harm.