The Children’s Society may delay its controversial
decision to pull-out of Wales, writes Alex
There was cautious optimism that the charity will decide to
extend its operations until July next year following a meeting in
Cardiff on Thursday between a special task group set up by the
Welsh Assembly and representatives of the society.
But there was concern that no firm pledges of financial support
were made and that the society’s chief executive Ian Sparks
had failed to attend, although he had given a commitment to MPs
that he would be at the meeting.
When the society announced its shock decision to pull out of the
principality last month there was widespread condemnation at the
imminent loss of 13 advocacy projects for children and young people
and some 120 jobs.
When the Children’s Society ends its work in Wales next
year there are now plans to form a shadow organisation that would
run until April 2003 when a new charity could come into existence.
The task group has decided to ask the Children’s Society if
it would be willing to manage the interim period.
Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Peter Clarke, said that
it is necessary to find an agency that could manage the interim
“My suggestion was that the best placed agency would be the
Children’s Society itself, because it holds all the contracts
with local authorities, and it also holds all the contracts with
the staff, and it has been demonstrably handling all these services
already which will help offset any fears that the local authorities
might have about a new agency moving in.
“This idea has been adopted by the task group, which is now
going to approach the society requesting that they agree in
principle to manage the projects from now until March 2003,” he
Sarah Manners, a spokesperson for the staff group in Wales, said
that she felt that the staff group fighting to maintain work in
Wales was inching toward its goal. The most important development
she said was that the local authorities and the representatives of
the Children’s Society that attended the meeting had agreed
to continue the work until next summer.
“An independent management consultant brought in by the
Children’s Society will put together a business plan that
would cover the period from July next year to March 2003. This
would continue the work in Wales for the present, but would look
forward to the creation of an independent charity in the
“The task force is due to meet again in the New Year and the
interim plan should be available then. But there has been no
commitment by the society to put any money into this process and
there are difficult negotiations ahead to try to secure the money
that will be needed,” she said.