Tim Robertson, CEO of Anne Frank Trust UK, said:

 

I absolutely acknowledge the serious concerns raised about some of the speakers, facilitators and public figures we have used in our recent events and social media. It is clear, as we found in our recent investigation, that we have had a real problem with due diligence and vetting processes.

I understand why, against a backdrop of growing antisemitism, people are seeking assurances about our values and ethos.  Our failures have left us vulnerable to loss of trust. Addressing this is my highest priority.

The Anne Frank Trust UK’s mission is to empower 10- to 15-year-olds to challenge all forms of prejudice, inspired by the life and work of Anne Frank. In 2021 we reached 41,433 young people in 775 schools across Britain. Our focus on all forms of prejudice has been our unique educational approach for over 20 years, and our programmes always start with the antisemitism experienced by Anne Frank.

We take great care to teach about Anne’s Jewish identity in its unique historic context. Far from universalising, we find that it is through the specificity of Anne’s story that students learn how antisemitism works, become committed to challenging it, and then extend their learning to other forms of prejudice. As social psychologists at the University of Kent concluded when evaluating our work in 2018:

 

“The programme’s focus on the Jewish experience of Anne Frank and the Holocaust does not limit is impact to attitudes towards Jewish people. On the contrary, this focus provides the basis for improved attitudes towards a wide range of other social groups who are typically targets of prejudice or discrimination.”

 

Our multi-prejudice reach does not dilute our lasting impact on antisemitism. In 2021 the University of Kent researchers found that, through our schools programme, 6,006 young people became significantly more positive towards Jewish people, and that, of young people who completed the programme 2 years earlier, 80% retained these improved attitudes.

Nevertheless, we are now committed to having a full external review of our programmes, looking especially at their impact on antisemitism, and to explore how we can strengthen our connection with the Jewish community. We will invite partners and interested parties to contribute their views and publish the findings and resulting action plan.

We aim for our team to be as diverse as possible, to help us engage with a diverse range of young people. We are committed to the IHRA definition of antisemitism, including all its examples. The definition is the underlying basis of all our programmes, and is covered in depth in our special antisemitism workshop. To make the commitment explicit, our board of trustees is planning to adopt the definition formally and add it to our organisational values, as well as introducing a process requiring all staff, trustees and contractors to sign up to it.

Our recruitment process is careful and rigorous: we make appointments solely on the basis of the experience, knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the role. When needed, we target the advertising of vacancies to address diversity gaps in our team or board. The recruitment materials you reference from Peridot Partners were from 2020, when we were addressing a lack of people of colour and disabled people among our trustees.

We value very highly the insights of lived experience that Jewish people bring to our work against antisemitism, and to the story of Anne Frank that is the inspiration for everything we do. At present, a quarter of our trustees are Jewish. This year we have been targeting staff recruitment specifically at the Jewish community, including through the use of a specialist Jewish recruiter. We are delighted that this means new Jewish colleagues will be joining us later this summer. Our Key Performance Indicators for 2022 include recruiting Jewish advisors to two of our board committees, and in April our Whole Staff Training Day focused entirely on antisemitism.

Overcoming a profound and complex phenomenon like antisemitism requires different approaches on different levels. Our educational model here at the Anne Frank Trust is a distinctive one, and we have a long track record and exceptionally strong evidence of its effectiveness. Above all, my hope is that all that the mistakes we have made recently will not detract from this vital work.

May I once again apologise most sincerely for the distress we have caused. I assure you I am listening, and we will set things right.