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‘My job is slowly killing me’: UK charity workers feeling the strain


Friday, 24th May 2019 at 4:30 pm
Luke Michael
UK charities are being urged to better protect their employees, after a survey found 80 per cent of charity workers have experienced workplace stress in the last 12 months.


Friday, 24th May 2019
at 4:30 pm
Luke Michael


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‘My job is slowly killing me’: UK charity workers feeling the strain
Friday, 24th May 2019 at 4:30 pm

UK charities are being urged to better protect their employees, after a survey found 80 per cent of charity workers have experienced workplace stress in the last 12 months.

Unite’s survey of 850 union members not only found four in five UK charity workers were stressed, it also revealed 42 per cent of employees believed their job was not good for their mental health.

Added to this, over a third (34 per cent) of those surveyed said they didn’t feel valued at work while 40 per cent did not feel their job was secure.

Siobhan Endean, Unite national officer for charities and the voluntary sector, said the survey’s findings were “profoundly disturbing”.

“While some charities and NGOs are committed to ensuring their staffs’ welfare it is clear many are not,” Endean said.

“Staff employed by charities and NGOs tend to be very committed to their organisation and are usually loathe to speak out as their fear it will damage the cause they work for. However, many workers are clearly at breaking point.”

Endean acknowledged the major effect of austerity cuts on the sector and said the mismanagement of workers was creating “widespread misery”.

But she said this was no excuse for charities not to take action on the long hours, excessive workloads and bullying which were significant factors of employees’ stress problems.

“They must stop exploiting the goodwill of their workers,” she said.

“Unite is putting employers on notice that management has to change and they need to work with our representatives to tackle these problems that are at epidemic levels.”

Workers from 238 organisations, including major charities RSPCA, Save the Children, Oxfam, Mind, Amnesty International and Greenpeace UK, replied to Unite’s survey.

One anonymous responder said in the survey they had no autonomy and limited support from HR.

“My job is slowly killing me. I have been grabbed twice by my manager, subjected to enforced hugging, eye rolling, muttering under her breath and humiliation at meetings in front of others,” they said.

“I have either been told about (by other alleged victims) or directly witnessed bullying of nine other former colleagues.”

Another said: “It’s a strange phenomenon to [be] bullied by management/employer who is a charity, so many things about this employer are great, but some are very wrong and ‘they’ can’t see it nor understand.”

Despite this, 92 per cent of respondents said they believed in the work they did.

These results follow the 2019 Pro Bono Australia Salary Survey which revealed 46 per cent of not-for-profit employees often experienced negative work-related stress.

If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with mental health, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or headspace on 1800 650 890.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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