A major children’s charity has been heavily criticised over a
decision to pull out of Wales, writes Alex
The Children’s Society announced that it is axing all of its
services in Wales, with expected job losses of 200 because of a
serious fall in the society’s income.
In the wake of the announcement, the Archbishop of Wales, the
Most Rev Rowan Williams, announced his plan to step down as the
society’s vice president, saying he was disappointed and angry.
The charity is also facing cuts in services in England, but
these are not expected to be as sweeping as those in Wales. The
society currently runs 13 advocacy projects for children in local
authority care in the principality, something specifically asked
for in the Waterhouse inquiry into child abuse in north Wales.
Ian Sparks, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said it
was with great sadness and regret that the charity had been forced
to close down its work in Wales.
“We have worked in Wales for 113 years and in that time we have
been supported generously and unstintingly by the people of Wales
and in particular by the Church in Wales,” he said.
The society said that along with all other charities, it is
facing an uphill struggle to raise funds in the current climate.
Amongst the hardest hit charities are medium sized, church and
The charity said in a statement: “We have taken this decision
because it was the only option open available to us. This year we
anticipate finishing the financial year with a deficit of £4
million. This figure follows deficits over the last four years of
£24 million in total. As a result we currently have £13
million remaining in general reserves, only enough to cover
three-and-a-half months operating costs.
“In total, we need to make savings of £6.4 million. Unless
we take action now to address the deficit, we will not remain
solvent as an organisation. We are making significant cuts in
England. Last year we closed nine projects and this year we will
close some 26 projects more,” it said.
Peter Clarke, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, though
sympathetic to the charity’s financial problems, says that the
decision is unfair to the country. He said that he expected
charities to behave responsibly to the children they are there to
care for, and he was concerned that Wales might be being sacrificed
to save services elsewhere.
Voices from Care, the charity directly representing children in
local authority care in Wales, is calling for an emergency
taskforce to be set up to find ways of filling the void left by the
Children’s Society’s abrupt departure.
Catriona Williams, chief executive of the umbrella organisation
for children’s charities in Wales Children in Wales, said: ” I am
very concerned about the loss of vital advocacy projects that gave
many children the opportunity to make their voices heard. The
Children’s Society should have taken steps to make sure that their
was not a sudden void left by their departure, there should have
been much greater consultation before the decision was taken.”