The following letter has been written on behalf of and with BACP members who wish to express their concern regarding the current governance of the BACP. If you are a BACP member and would like to add your support (signature to the letter), then please do submit a comment below including your full name and/or BACP membership number. This letter will be submitted to BACP on Friday 14th April 2023 but you are welcome to add your signature at any point. Thank you.
Dear Natalie Bailey (BACP Chair) and Board of Governors.
This letter is sent on behalf of members of CTUK, a counselling and psychotherapy campaigning and advocacy group with a membership of over 9,000, the majority of whom are also members of BACP.
Members have raised concerns with CTUK regarding BACP, its governance and conduct, and as founder, I am collating these concerns and putting them to you so you may provide a transparent response and offer the membership reassurance.
1. Members feel uneasy regarding the ongoing changes in management and leadership since 2020, and don’t feel they have received adequate explanation about why this has happened.
We believe that since November 2020, seven trustees have resigned before completing their terms. Only one of these trustees (Michael Golding) has offered a public explanation regarding his resignation – where he stated SCoPEd was the reason and raised serious concerns about the legal impact of the project on members. Other resignations have been stated as not about SCoPEd but with no further information given.
With the recent departure of Chelsea Shelley (Chief Operations and Membership Officer and Fiona Ballantine Dykes (Dept CEO), and Hadyn Williams (CEO) at the end of last year, that’s all senior leaders gone.
There are now no trustees or members of the senior leadership team remaining who were in place at the beginning of the current Chair’s tenure.
Can you please confirm if these figures are correct and provide a clear explanation as to why there have been so many departures in recent months. We would also like to understand why there has not been recruitment of trustees to replace those who have left (the board now stands at 6 out of a possible 12 members and given the Chair has a casting vote in board matters, decisions can now be carried based on just 3 trustees, including the Chair supporting the decision). There has also been no appointment of a new Deputy Chair in breach of your Articles of Association.
2. Members have expressed concerns about feeling ‘kept in the dark’, and therefore unable to make informed decisions about their membership. For example, members are unsure if they feel they can now renew their membership as they are worried about being associated with such uncertainty, and how their reputation will be affected. Answering question one will go some way to reassuring members who feel this way.
3. You were recently contacted by the Partners for Counselling and Psychotherapy (PCP) with a statement of concern regarding the above – they asked you if you would conduct a, ‘commissioning of a formal and independent Governance Review of the BACP Board.’
On the 22nd December 2022 PCP received a response which included the following statement:
“Following the resignation of the trustees, a formal and independent review of the governance of BACP was commissioned. The review, conducted by an expert in governance, led to a series of recommendations being made to the Board of Trustees. The Board, supported by the Governance, Remunerations and Nominations (GRaN) Committee and the governance team, are continuing to work through these recommendations to ensure the continued effective governance of BACP.”
PCP then responded asking for clarity about the scope and nature of the review, as follows:
“Thank you for your letter of 22 December 2022. There are a number of issues in which we are interested. However, we wish to focus at present on your ‘formal review of the governance of BACP’. Please will you provide details of the ‘expert in governance’ and their independent status? We are also interested in the scope of the review; please can you provide details of that? May we also please see the review report and its recommendations, together with the steps being taken to ensure effective governance?”
To which BACP responded:
“Thank you for your email and request for further information, and please accept our apologies for the delay in replying to you.
We’ve reviewed your request and, after careful consideration, feel it would be inappropriate to share this information. We have no legal obligation to share these details and as such, we’re unable to agree to your request.”
This information can be found in the public domain here: https://www.partnersforcounsellingandpsychotherapy.co.uk/bacp-refuses-to-reveal-any-information-about-review-of-their-governance/
This response has obviously caused some concern amongst your members who feel that it is not good enough, and that it appears BACP is refusing to be open and transparent. Members have asked me to remind you that they pay you to work on their behalf, via their monthly subscription, and that in return they expect to be provided with such information, not because it is legally required but because it is in the interests of transparency.
As recommended by The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), “Sharing an overview of your findings and commitments helps make sure accountability for the changes you hope to make. It also reveals and reassures stakeholders that you’re committed to good governance and aware of the areas for development.” https://www.ncvo.org.uk/help-and-guidance/governance/carrying-out-a-governance-review/
BACP members are now asking you directly to answer the questions that PCP originally posed in their email to you:
a) Please will you provide details of the ‘expert in governance’ and their independent status?
B) We are also interested in the scope of the review; please can you provide details of that?
c) May we also please see the review report and its recommendations, together with the steps being taken to ensure effective governance?
Your statement of, ‘We have no legal obligation to share these details and as such, we’re unable to agree to your request.’ has fuelled a sense of distrust amongst the membership. There are further allegations made publicly by ex-trustees regarding you redacting information you have shared. The implication here is that there is something to hide and so openness would demonstrate that all is in order and members concerns can be allayed.
4. While only one resignation appears linked to SCoPEd, we would like confirmation of whether any others are also linked to the project. Further, BACP did not respond to Michael’s Golding’s statement regarding the divisive nature of SCoPEd, the impact on members or the statement that as a trustee he was unable to have any great influence over the project. Can BACP now respond to Michael’s allegations?
This is an open letter and has been posted in the public domain on the CTUK website here: https://ukcounsellors.co.uk/bacp-members-letter-of-concern-April-2023
Below this open letter you can see a list of signatories from your members who have either asked us to write this letter, helped us to write this letter, and/or are expressing their support.
I do hope that you can answer the above concerns of your members openly and honestly, and that you no longer state that you won’t share information that you aren’t legally obliged to, but rather you choose to do the right thing and provide some clarity and transparency during these apparent turbulent times.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.