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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Commission to host essential safeguarding seminar

Over 350 charities that work overseas to provide services to children and/or vulnerable adults have been invited by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland to an Essential safeguarding good practice seminar.

The free, invitation-only seminar is aimed at ensuring charities working in sectors which involve those that are vulnerable are aware of their responsibilities as charity trustees, and the safeguarding standards expected of them.

“With the media recently highlighting a number of serious safeguarding failures by well-known charities, we are hosting a seminar to remind charity trustees of their duties and responsibilities,” said Punam McGookin, the Commission’s Head of Charity Services.

“Charities that work with or support vulnerable beneficiaries are in a position of particular trust and power; even one small safeguarding failure can have a devastating impact on the charity’s beneficiaries, staff and supporters.

“Second to that is the damage that can be caused to the wider charity and to the sector. Building and maintaining public trust and confidence is vital to the success of all charities. Once lost or damaged it is incredibly difficult to rebuild.

“Safeguarding is a key governance issue for charity trustees working with children and adults at risk of harm, at home and abroad, and is one which should not be taken lightly,” added Punam.

The Commission’s Essential safeguarding good practice seminar, the first of its kind to be held by the charity regulator, will be held on Thursday, 24 May 2018, from 9.30am to 1pm (registration at 9am) at NICVA in Belfast.

Keynote speakers confirmed for the seminar are:

  • Sarah Mistry, Director of Effectiveness and Learning, Bond (UK network for organisations working in international development)
  • Sandra Adair, Director of Operations, Volunteer Now (lead organisation for the provision of volunteer support, promotion and development in Northern Ireland), and
  • Myles McKeown, Head of Compliance and Enquiries, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

Seminar places are limited to one person per organisation, and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.


For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Communications Officer, on tel: 028 3832 0169, mobile: 07827338978 or email:

Notes to editors

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the regulator of charities in Northern Ireland, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Communities.

This seminar is primarily aimed at charities working overseas, to deliver services to vulnerable beneficiaries. The seminar is aimed at:

  • raising awareness of the relationship between good safeguarding practice and the delivery of good governance.
    informing charities about their duty to report serious incidents to the Commission, including safeguarding matters.
  • identifying the issues facing Northern Ireland charities, in relation to safeguarding employees, volunteers and vulnerable beneficiaries.
  • supporting charities to improve their safeguarding practice and ensure that their charity’s values are reflected in all areas of their operation.

Profile of speakers

  • Sarah Mistry, Director of Effectiveness and Learning, Bond

Sarah Mistry has been Director of Effectiveness and Learning at Bond, the UK network of NGOs working in international development, since April 2013. She leads a team which supports Bond’s 450 NGO members to increase their development impact and organisational effectiveness. Within this, current priorities include transparency and accountability, adaptation and innovation, diversifying NGO funding sources, impact measurement and safeguarding. She led the development of Bond’s strategy and is responsible for Bond’s fundraising, grant programmes and strategic partnerships.  

Sarah was previously Head of Research and Evaluation at the Big Lottery Fund. She has worked in evaluation and management roles for VSO and the British Council, and as a consultant.  She is on the board of the Scottish Power Foundation and is a Fellow of the RSA.

  • Sandra Adair, Director of Operations, Volunteer Now

Sandra Adair is Director of Operations at Volunteer Now, having worked with the Volunteer Development Agency since it was a project in NICVA and through its establishment and development as an independent charity and through the merger to create Volunteer Now.

She led the development of Volunteer Now’s social enterprise – Volunteer Now Enterprises Ltd in 2013. Sandra has developed and managed a number of volunteer development projects, including training and information services covering volunteer management, governance and safeguarding. She was to the forefront in providing leadership to the development and implementation of standards for volunteer management and safeguarding, including the accredited organisational national award, Investing in Volunteers.

  • Myles McKeown, Head of Compliance and Enquiries, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland

Myles was appointed to the Commission as Head of Compliance & Enquiries in October 2013 and is responsible for leading compliance work with charities in Northern Ireland, covering investigations into the mismanagement of charities and annual reporting.

Myles has over 15 years’ experience of audit and investigation work, gained in the Northern Ireland Audit Office and the Department for Social Development (now Department for Communities). Most recently he was employed within the Business Development Directorate of the Child Maintenance Service, aiding in the development of policies and procedures relating to Child Maintenance Reform. Myles is a member of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (CMIIA).