Staff attempt to stop society leaving Wales fails

A last ditch attempt by staff to stop the Children’s
Society pulling out of Wales has failed, writes Alex

Representatives from the Children’s Society are now due to
appear before the Welsh affairs select committee to explain their
controversial withdrawal from 13 key advocacy projects across the

At a meeting last week staff from Wales met with trustees from
the charity to present plans for a rescue package that would
safeguard vital children’s work within Wales, but their
recommendations were turned down. The society has however expressed
a willingness to explore the possibility of working in Wales until
March 2003, subject to financial constraints.

A joint statement from the Children’s Society and the
Wales staff group says: “The society was unable to offer the
£4 million reserves requested by the staff group, but agreed
that in order for the work to continue, further funds would be
needed. The society agreed to explore further funding options
including the possibility of financial support from a range of
bodies, including from the society itself.

“The society and staff group will continue to work
collaboratively with an aim to secure the long-term future of
services after the society withdraws from Wales.”

George Jones of the Wales staff group said: “There were three
requests that were put to the Board. First will you change your
minds about pulling out, to which the answer was ‘No’.
Second we wanted what we considered to be a moral slice of the
reserves that would help us to set up a new organisation in Wales
and that too was turned down, and the third request was would they
support setting up an organisation to carry on the work with
children in Wales, and the answer was a very guarded,

When chief executive Ian Sparks and Lady Toulson who chairs the
board of trustees, appear before the select committee they are
likely to be given a bumpy ride by Welsh MPs who are furious at the
way the charity has handled its departure from Wales.

Meanwhile, staff in the principality are waiting for the outcome
of the select committee and for the conclusions of a special task
group set up by the Welsh Assembly, which is due to report later
this week.

* The society has announced the name of its new chief executive
to replace the retiring Ian Sparks. Bob Reitemeier is currently the
charity’s director of operations, a post he has held since 1998.
Before joining the Children’s Society he spent eight years with




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