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Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 06:50 GMT
Society chief to explain pull out
The chief executive of the Children's Society is to meet Assembly Social Services minister Jane Hutt to explain why his charity is pulling out of Wales.

There was a storm of protest when the church charity announced on Tuesday it was axing services - including closing 13 projects for children and young people - and making 120 workers redundant.

Mrs Hutt said the Welsh Assembly had not been informed of the charity's closure plan ahead of the announcement.

Children Society's Welsh policy officer Maria Battle
Maria Battle: Staff will fight on

She also said the assembly had not been asked for any kind of financial help ahead of the current crisis.

The Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, resigned as vice-president of the charity in anger.

And the newly-established Children's Commissioner for Wales, Peter Clarke, said he would be seeking a rescue package.

The society says it has to save 6m across its entire operations in England and Wales.

Many of the society's projects were set up in direct response to the Waterhouse report on child abuse in north Wales, serving some of the country's most vunerable youngsters.

The Welsh staff of the charity have vowed to fight on to try to save the charity's operations in some form.

Policy officer Maria Battle said the charitable work she and her colleagues had been undertaking was very important for young people.

"Many of them do not trust statutory bodies, said Ms Battle.

Welsh Social Services Minister Jane Hutt
Jane Hutt: Not informed of society's plans

The fight to try and salvage the charity's operations has the support of one of its directors, three senior managers and the entire Welsh staff, Ms Battle said.

However, Ian Sparks, the society's chief executive, is expected to tell the minister at their meeting in Cardiff Bay on Thursday that there is no other solution to the charity's funding crisis

The charity expects to finish the financial year with a deficit of 4m and, over the last four years, a deficit of 24m in total.

As things stand, 13 projects which offer help to children in care, and other vulnerable teenagers will close in July.

It seems unlikely that the society's trustees will change their minds - the workers, and other child care experts in Wales are campaigning for a new, independent advocacy service, employing some of the staff facing redundancy.

Maria Battle, Children Society policy officer
"The management in Wales was not even consulted"
BBC Wales's Gail Foley reports
"We think we have been sacrificed."
See also:

07 Nov 01 | Wales
Giving children hope
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