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RNIB responds to Charity Commission report

Public Statement

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this report, please get in touch. It is never too late to report a safeguarding concern or complaint. Some people find that reporting gives them a sense of closure and helps them to start moving on. You can contact us on 0303 123 9999. We will listen. We will act. You can also speak to the police about what happened to you by calling 101.

Today (25 June 2020), the Charity Commission concluded its inquiry into the governance, management and oversight of the RNIB’s safeguarding arrangements from 2015 to 2018 including, in particular, the RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning in Coventry.

When the issues emerged it became clear that we had seriously let down children at the Centre and their families. We had also let down the staff, volunteers, supporters and blind and partially sighted people who make up the RNIB community. We are truly sorry to every one of them. They rightly expected better of RNIB. 

This has been a humbling and sobering experience for RNIB. We fully accept the Charity Commission’s recommendations and the inquiry report acknowledges that we are making good progress in implementing them. We are sorry for our failings that were highlighted by the inquiry. We have made significant changes to RNIB and are continuing to embed improvements to ensure that these failings can never happen again.

We knew we couldn’t and shouldn’t attempt to fix this alone. Over the last two years we have worked closely with independent experts and the Charity Commission to identify the causes of these failures and make immediate improvements. We have: 

  • Completely overhauled our approach to safeguarding, including all staff and Trustees completing safeguarding training. 
  • Strengthened our Board, bringing in specialist expertise in safeguarding and governance.
  • Made key appointments to our leadership team, appointing seven of our eight current Directors in the last two years, including:
    – a Director of Care, Education and Safeguarding;
    – a Director of People and Organisational Transformation;
    – a Company Secretary to head up a new Governance Directorate.

Today, we share our progress report which highlights the actions we have already taken.

This period marks the low point in RNIB’s 152-year history. However, we have made significant progress over the past two years and we are committed to emerging from this as a better, more determined, and more effective organisation. 

Eleanor Southwood, Chair

Matt Stringer, CEO