Society`s staff rally to create new body

Staff of the Children’s Society in Wales want to create a
new charity to replace services lost by the society’s decision to
pull out of the principality, writes Alex

They announced their intention after a five-hour meeting. Staff
fear that redundancy notices could be served as soon as January
with many project contracts due to end in March.

Maria Battle, policy officer of The Children’s Society
Cymru, said: “The staff of the Children’s Society Cymru, met
and have unanimously decided to fight to preserve the work of The
Children’s Society Cymru as a whole.

“We do not want individual services or projects to be
cherry-picked off from the group, as we believe in the foundation
of an independent social justice organisation in partnership with
the Church in Wales,” she said.

The staff’s decision to try to continue with their work is
likely to be boosted by the decision by the Archbishop of the
Church in Wales, the most Reverend Rowan Williams, who has resigned
from his post as vice president of the society, to set up a fund
that provides an avenue for money raised in Wales for children to
stay in Wales.

Staff are also pointing out that the cost of the
Children’s Society’s decision to withdraw from the
principality is likely to be in the region of at least £1.3
million, and they are asking for a commitment from the charity to
be given that money to help them continue their work.

Battle said: “This would allow it to be spent far more
constructively than on a closure operation, and would be a
substantial gesture of goodwill towards the children and young
people of Wales.”

Welsh assembly minister, Jane Hutt, who has responsibility for
social services, has set up a taskforce that will look at ways to
try of salvaging the work currently carried out by the society,
which will report back in the New Year.

In a statement to the Welsh Assembly, Hutt said: “The
Children’s Society currently has 14 projects and a staff of
122 in Wales. The work includes advocacy, participation, family
group conferencing and anti-poverty work.

“The advocacy projects operate in 13 local authority areas. One
third of the society’s funding in Wales is from voluntary income
and two thirds from external sources. The Welsh Assembly makes a
considerable contribution to the activities of the society, with
local authorities supporting many of the projects out of the grant
they receive from the assembly, through Children First, the
Children and Youth Partnership Fund, and the society also works in
partnership with dioceses of the Church in Wales.”

She added: “I have asked Children in Wales, as the umbrella body
representing the statutory and voluntary children’s sectors, to
convene a taskforce to report early in the New Year. The objectives
are to secure suitable and practical arrangements to continue the
services, and to retain the skills of the staff currently

The chairperson of the taskforce will be Christine Walby,
currently a trustee of Children in Wales and a research fellow of
University of Wales Swansea, who has experience in both the
statutory and the voluntary sector.

Hutt told the assembly that many people in Wales have cause to
feel let down by the society’s decision to pull-out: “The
decision was disgraceful and we will not take it lying down.”

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