FORMER employees of a care organisation that has suspended one worker and is thought to be investigating misconduct by more employees have claimed a culture of bullying, intimi- dation and ignorance of the needs of staff exists within the organisation.
The allegations were made against senior staff at Streets Ahead, which offers support to people with learning disabilities, with directors of the organisa-tion said to be unaware of any wrongdoing by manage-ment.
Executive director Gordon Robb last week confirmed that a worker had been suspended pending investigations into an “internal disciplinary matter”, but sources approached this week by the Hawick News claim a manager, deputy manager and another employee have all been handed temporary leave.
One ex-member of staff said that suspension of workers tended to result in their reinstatement days later without any reprimand or warning about their actions.
“Complaints were made to supervisors in supervisions, with no follow-up from the manager or deputy manager,” she said. “It was swept under the carpet.”
The ex-employee further added that staff have left the organisation due to being unable to “put up with the wrongdoings” or because “they do their jobs for the right reasons and the bullies make their life hell”.
She added that a mentality of the organisation being “untouchable” had prevailed despite Streets Ahead enduring a fractious relationship with the Care Commission, the NHS, and social services.
Ray Chlopas, chairman of the care organisation, contested part of that claim, saying: “The company refutes completely the allegation of a ‘fractious relationship’ with the statutory bodies.
“We have worked with these agencies for 25 years and enjoy a strong professional relationship with all of them.”
Another former employee of the Kirkstile-based firm said that female managers in the local area bullied staff.
“I found they – and this is not unique to Streets Ahead as I believe it can be found in other care settings – could be bullies as managers,” he said.
Streets Ahead chairman Mr Chlopas stressed that the organisation held a philosophy centred around “decency”:
He added: “If at any time we have a report of a dereliction of this duty of care and decency, we immediately investigate the complaint and, if founded, take a rigorous action to rectify the situation.”