Children’s charity admits corporate cash was crucial to helpline move

The NSPCC has confirmed that its controversial plan to move part of
its telephone helpline operation to Manchester was dependent on a
record-breaking corporate donation.

The children’s welfare charity said its new “listening centre” was
being funded by a £6m pledge from Manchester-based financial
services company Amulet Group and its founders, Mark and Deborah

The move will involve transferring 25 specialist child protection
social worker jobs from London. Most of those in the posts now are
expected to take redundancy.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “We had been considering the [listening
centre] idea for some time but we could only go ahead with the
project if we had the resources. We have been able to proceed
because of the donation from the Amulet Group.”

But the spokesperson denied that the terms of the donation required
it to be spent on a project in the North West.

“There are not any terms in the donation except that they [the
Langfords] are happy that it is being used for the proposed
listening centre in Manchester. We would not put a project
somewhere simply because a donor tells us to.”

Despite staff concerns over a possible link with a corporate donor
in Manchester, Jennifer Bernard, the NSPCC’s director of services
for children and young people, said recently there was no direct
link between the move and any “condition, pressure or inducement”
(news, 12 December 2002, page 10).

But Steve Anslow of the British Union of Social Work Employees said
that it had clearly been influenced by the donation.

“It is extremely worrying that a decision has been made on this
basis because it leads to redundancies and costs that are
unnecessary,” he said.

Many of the social workers affected by the proposal are now
considering an action for unfair dismissal because “there is not a
good reason for the move”, said Anslow.

The charity said it planned to move its evening and weekend
telephone helplines to Manchester because of recruitment
difficulties and a lack of space in London.

Amulet is best known for its subsidiary, personal injury
compensation specialist The Accident Group.

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