Statement on protests at the Amy Foundation
20 November 2018
The Amy Foundation has been working successfully with children and youth since 1997. Several programmes were established in challenged and vulnerable communities. We’re currently helping about 2000 youngsters daily.
We have had significant success in nurturing children, developing skills and finding employment for youth, establishing after school care facilities for learners, developing arts, life skills, academic support, sport and cultural activities as well as greening programmes for the youth. We are very proud of this achievement.
Due to the success and impact of our work over the last 12 years we have consistently attracted funds for our projects. However, over the last few years it has become increasingly difficult to sustain regular income and to keep our projects running. A stagnant economy has meant that many corporates are cutting back on social investment. As a result, raising the much needed funds for all our projects has become a massive challenge, and one that we have not always been able to overcome.
As a result, we have had to consider cutting back on some of the programmes and services we offer, such as our After School Centre in Khayelitsha. We have spent the past 8 months trying to balance the need for the centre in the community against very limited resources and financial cost restraints. Along with cost saving exercises, we have considered all possible options. Unfortunately, we have now reached the point where we cannot sustain the centre any longer and we have to consider retrenchment.
“It is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. There are children in Khayelitsha who rely on our support and it pains me to cut back on the service we have provided,” said Kevin Chaplin, Managing Director of the Amy Foundation.
Some staff members were not happy with the decision. This has sparked protest action and, in the process, several unfounded allegations were made against the Foundation and Mr Chaplin.
“It is rather unfortunate that my integrity is being questioned. We are committed to good governance and ethical management, as evidenced by clean independent audits over the years. Our audited financial statements have always been, and continue to be, open to public scrutiny. The overall strategy that has been implemented, along with all the decisions that I have made, have always been pre-approved by the Board of Trustees and our management team. These are decisions for which I am now being personally and unfairly attacked,” said Chaplin.
All staff have a right to legally protest, a right which the Foundation respects.
Regrettably, four members of staff had to be suspended for misconduct, pending a disciplinary hearing. Further negotiations with staff were deadlocked and we are currently in the process of seeking mediation support. The Foundation remains committed to addressing all staff concerns. The office of the Foundation is currently closed while we attend to these issues.
“Issues of racial exclusion and prejudice are deeply rooted in our society. We will make every effort to bridge the divides. In the spirit of reconciliation, and in an effort to uphold our traditional South African values, I do want to sit down and talk with my staff about the issues. These will be hard and difficult, but necessary conversations,” said Chaplin.
Regrettably some donors do not want their brands to be associated with the negative sentiment provoked by the protest action. This, of course, puts further stress on our resources.
“I must assure our donors that the Foundation is in good hands. It has a long and solid history of success with an experienced management team and Board of trustees. I must thank the donors who have supported us over the years and who continue to stand by the Foundation in good times and in bad,” said Chaplin.
For more information, contact:
073 557 2004
About the Amy Foundation
Amy Biehl was a 26-year-old American Fulbright post-graduate student who died in Gugulethu in 1993, a year before South Africa’s first democratic election. She was stabbed to death at a protest. The Foundation was established to honour the legacy of Amy Biehl and continue her work for a better South Africa.
More information about the Foundation and its programmes can be found at www.amyfoundation.co.za