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STATEMENT ON THE CLOSURE OF THE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY, CYMRU

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The Children's Society has announced that it would be closing all its work in Wales. The decision was taken by trus...
The Children's Society has announced that it would be closing all its work in Wales. The decision was taken by trustees at the society's meeting of its trustee board last month.

Ian Sparks, chief executive of The Children's Society, said: 'It is with great sadness and regret that we are forced to close our 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 through the church in Wales.

'The Children's Society, along with all other charities, is facing an uphill struggle to raise funds in the current climate. Amongst the hardest hit charities are medium-sized charities, church charities and children's charities. We fall into all three categories.

'We have taken this decision because it was the only option available to us. This year we anticipate finishing the financial year with a deficit of£4m. This figure follows deficits over the last four years of£24m in total. As a result we currently have£13m remaining in general reserves, only enough to cover three and a half months' operating costs. The general view in the children's charity sector is that reserves should be sufficient to cover a minimum of six months, a view shared by our auditors.

'In total, we need to make savings of£6.4m. 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. We considered all other choices to closing our work in Wales, but we were faced with no alternatives. To continue working in Wales we would have had to even deeper cuts and that would have made our operations in both countries unstable.

'We also considered reducing our practice base in Wales, but concluded that there would be so few projects that we would not have the capacity to be a national player in Wales and influence the social policy agenda on behalf of children and young people. We felt that we would only be operating a shadow organisation and would be letting down children and young people in Wales.

'Our supporters in Wales, both from within the Church in Wales and outside, have worked unstintingly on behalf of children and young people in Wales, and their contribution can be measured in the thousands of children who have benefited from our work. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them for all the support they have shown us.

'The decision could mean up to 123 job losses for staff in Wales, the equivalent to 81 full-time posts. This is something we regret deeply and we are putting in place programmes to help staff explore new opportunities for employment and to identify career pathways elsewhere.

'Our staff in Wales have made a huge contribution to children in Wales, working tirelessly on their behalf. Their work has ensured that children, whose voices had been previously unheard, were able to speak out at the highest level. The excellent reputation of The Children's Society Cymru is the finest tribute that can be paid to them.

'Finally, in making this decision, we are aware that we are saying goodbye to the children and young people that we've worked with for the last 113 years. I would only say to them that they have been an inspiration to work with and it is a matter of great personal and professional pride to have been involved with them.

Anne Williams, director of children and young people for The Children's Society Cymru said: 'This is a day of great sadness both for The Children's Society and for me personally. The Children's Society Cymru has made great progress is getting children's issues on the agenda in the Welsh assembly. Over the next few months our task will be to consolidate that success and to work with other organisations so that our learning and experience is taken forward. We want to make sure that children and young people in Wales will continue to get the full benefit from our work.'

Notes

* see LGCnetfor statement from The Children's Society in England.

1. The Children's Society ran some 102 on 126 sites projects in England and Wales, including 13 projects in Wales.

2. The Children's Society has operated in Wales since 1887.

3. The Children's Society is also to close some 26 projects in England on top of the nine projects closed last year.

4. The Children's Society Cymru will continue to run until July 2002.

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