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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 14:50 GMT
Anger as charity opts out of Wales
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales
Dr Rowan Williams is reported to be furious
The Archbishop of Wales has announced he is quitting his post with the Children's Society in protest at the loss of its Welsh operation.

The Right Reverend Rowan Williams, who is vice president of the church charity, is reported to be furious that the society is axing its operations, with the estimated loss of 120 jobs.

Disadvantaged children
The society works to protect disadvantaged children
The decision was officially announced on Tuesday afternoon and reflects a significant drop in the society's funds.

One of Britain's leading children's charities, the society is facing fierce criticism over its decision to leave Wales.

It plans to close 13 advocacy projects, many of which were set up as a response to the Waterhouse report on child abuse in north Wales.

Assembly Health Minister Jane Hutt said she wanted to meet with the Children's Society "urgently" over its decision to axe its services in Wales.

Ms Hutt, who said she had no previous indication about the society's plans, said she was "very concerned" by the announcement.

Each of the society's projects were intended to give a voice to children in the care of local authorities.

The society also runs community projects in some of the poorest parts of Wales, like one in Merthyr Tydfil and others in Pembrokeshire and Powys.

A statement from the archbishop read: "We are deeply disappointed and concerned that the Children's Society are proposing the drastic step of withdrawing completely from Wales.

"Clearly, our first thoughts at this time must be for those staff who will be made redundant as a result of the Children's Society decision to withdraw from all activity in Wales and for the families of those staff members.

"But we are also deeply concerned that the Children's Society's decision could impact adversely on the lives and life opportunities of many youngsters in Wales."

The Church in Wales and the Church of England are major benefactors of the society, but donations have fallen away.

Protect children

A sharp decline in the stock market following the terrorist attacks of 11 September led to the society losing large amounts of money.

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 archbishop, who is well known for his concerns for the most disadvantaged in Wales, said he can no longer serve as the society's vice president.

Findings from the Waterhouse Report into abuse in north Wales children's homes also led to the establishment of the Children's Commissioner for Wales.

Part of the commissioner's role is intended to liaise with groups dealing with protecting children's rights, such as the Children's Society.

The society has a broad role to play in promoting children's issues, from the right to play to dealing with issues of bullying.

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 ON THIS STORY
Archbishop Rowan Williams
"I can understand the severe problems behind this decision"
Ian Sparks, chief executive, Children's Society
"We are paying the price for over optimism"
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