Statement by Groundwork UK
Groundwork UK is aware of comments made during the trial of Charles Howeson that reports of assaults on volunteers working for Groundwork Plymouth Area in the early 1990s were not dealt with appropriately at the time.
Our work improving the environment and transforming lives is dependent on the support we receive from volunteers and brings us into contact with many vulnerable people. We were therefore deeply saddened to learn of the facts that emerged during Mr Howeson’s trial and recognise both the distress felt by his victims and their bravery in bringing him to justice.
Groundwork operates as a federation with each Groundwork Trust run as an independent charity. Groundwork has developed and changed significantly over the last 25 years. Groundwork Trusts are required to undergo an annual due diligence check to ensure they have all necessary policies and procedures in place and governance is regularly reviewed to ensure trustees are fully aware of their obligations to their employees, volunteers and those people Groundwork supports. We expect the highest standards of behaviour from those who operate under the Groundwork name and act swiftly to address any issues brought to our attention.
The Groundwork Trust Charles Howeson led is no longer in existence and no members of its former management team or board of trustees remain involved in Groundwork’s activities. Groundwork projects and programmes in the South West are now delivered by a different organisation – Groundwork South.
Groundwork operates as a federation with local projects and programmes delivered by a network of separate, independent Groundwork Trusts across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, each governed by a board of trustees. Groundwork UK’s role is to promote and support the activities of Groundwork Trusts at a national level.
Groundwork Plymouth Area was established as a new independent Trust in 1991. Mr Howeson was its Executive Director until 1993. In subsequent years Groundwork Plymouth Area expanded its operations to the wider South West before closing down in 2014 as a result of financial difficulties.