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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

EXCLUSIVE: board member says street paper network faces “collapse”

This news post is 8 months old

The chief executive of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) has denied there is a crisis

A Glasgow-based charity providing support to street newspapers across the globe is facing a crisis as a key member of its board stepped down. 

However, the chief executive of the Glasgow-based International Network of Street Papers (INSP) has denied the charity is on the brink of “collapse”. 

On Wednesday Tim Harris, a member of the charity’s board, announced his immediate resignation from the role, citing “board integrity issues and deep staff dissatisfaction”. 

He warned that other members of the board had been “timid critics of business as usual and reluctant to confront”. 

Writing in a statement on the website of Dignity City - one of the INSP’s network of street papers, based in the American city of Seattle - he said: “As most of you have seen but may not have fully realized, the INSP is in the process of collapsing. We have, over the past year, lost the North American Director, the Development Manager, the admin position, the comms manager, and the Street News Service editor, leaving Mike the new CEO as last man standing.

“As much as it goes against my nature to bail from a perhaps sinking ship, in this case, the decision makes sense. Over the last four years of my board service in particular, I have pushed hard for the INSP board to adopt a public-facing posture, to pursue regional strategies of consistent member engagement, and to better support the organization by being a fundraising board that highly values all of its staff. Each of these has been met with resistance ranging from subtle to nearly unforgivable.

“Over the past year, as I have confronted board officers on board integrity issues and deep staff dissatisfaction, I have been silenced and sidelined, sometimes politely and others not. There is a rich documented history of this, and I don't need to prove anything here. 

“While I do have allies on the board, they have mostly been timid critics of business as usual and reluctant to confront. The utter failure of this board to authentically address concerns raised in staff exit interviews... have led me to conclude that further efforts here come unacceptably at my own expense.

“To that end, I have included several long-time street paper movement leaders in this email, because most people outside the INSP board have no clue, and the heroic and heart-led INSP membership deserves better.

“My resignation here is effective immediately.”

Despite the claims, TFN was told in no uncertain terms by the current INSP CEO that no such crisis was on the cards. 

Mike Findlay, chief executive of INSP, said: “INSP as a charity has been around for 30 years. We are not on the verge of collapsing. Like many Scottish third sector organisations, we have faced challenges with an increasingly competitive funding environment. This has included seeing a reduction in cash coming in from government grants. 

“We have had good news in recent weeks about new grants that INSP has achieved for the coming year. This has come at a time when we have been growing our reputation within Scotland’s social enterprise sector, and we have also seen increased demand for our services, given the poverty crisis we are experiencing here in Scotland and also globally.”