Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence




1.1  Welsh Language Act and the Voluntary Sector

Legal Framework

  The principle of equality for the Welsh and English languages within the public administration of Wales is clearly established in the Welsh Language Act of 1993.

  The recognition that in Wales there are two official languages carries responsibilities for all public bodies but also has implications for all agencies and organisations operating in the public area in Wales.

  The Act requires all bodies who are publicly funded to produce a Welsh Language Scheme. Whilst The Children's Society is not exclusively publicly funded we do work closely with local authorities, health bodies, the education system and The Welsh Office. Accordingly, any organisation (including The Children's Society) which delivers a service on behalf of such bodies is required to follow that body's language scheme or to develop their own.

  One on level therefore it is in the best interest of the Society to develop its own Welsh Language Scheme as opposed to reacting to the schemes of other bodies. However, there are other compelling reasons why The Society should now develop a Welsh Language Scheme of its own.

  The Children's Society formally adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child in 1996. Article 30 of the Convention safeguards the child's right to "enjoy his or her culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion or to use his or her own language". The absence of a Welsh Language Scheme places The Children's Society in contravention of the letter and spirit of the Convention.

  The Children Act 1989 Section 22 introduced a positive duty to ensure that local social services departments in England and Wales, who are delivering services to children (including voluntary organisations) must pay due regard to the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background. All major voluntary childcare agencies including Children in Wales, NCH Action for Children, Barnardos, SCF, CCETSW, and NACRO have developed Welsh Language Schemes.

  The Society's Welsh Language Scheme is needed as part of an integrated Equal Opportunity Policy.

1.2  Standards of Good Practice

  Good Practice Standards for Social Work in Wales now include a recognition of linguistic and cultural issues. The relationship between agencies, partners and users has long been established upon principles of openness, choice and equality. Good practice in Wales does now include issues of language and culture in order to give effect to the principle of equality.

  CCETSW's five principles of anti oppressive practice include the following points:

    —  a client has the right to choose which language to use;

    —  language is an essential part of a person's identity;

    —  a person can express feelings more effectively in a chosen language;

    —  giving a client real choice regarding the use of language is an essence of good practice; and

    —  denying this right of practice is a way of oppressing a client.

  The Children's Society's own anti-oppressive practice standards (see Section 2 below) reflect these principles.

1.3  Current Position of The Children's Society

  Involvement with funding partners such as The Church in Wales, The Welsh Office, unitary authorities, health bodies, educational departments and schools has shown the need for a proactive Society policy which matches the approach of such bodies.

  Our Fundraising Division interface with many sectors where a bilingual approach would be advantageous to the Society—in some areas it is essential to the completing of the work task.

  As the Marketing and Communications Division responds to the Welsh Media and the forthcoming National Assembly, The Children's Society will benefit greatly from the ability to be able to put forward Welsh speaking spokespeople.

  The Children's Society's Welsh Language Scheme needs to reflect the core value of the Society in a way which recognises the value of language and culture of Wales. Such a commitment carries a cost which is the cost of the agency and not the cost of the region alone.


  The Children's Society's Statements of Values includes a commitment to standing alongside children and young people whatever their background, circumstances or creed. Included in The Statement of Principle are:

  In our work with children and young people we will . . .

    —  listen to them and take account of their wishes

    —  treat them all equally regardless of background, creed or ability

  In our work with supporters and volunteers we will . . .

    —  show that we value their commitment

    —  treat them in a fair and honest way

  In our work with the Society we will . . .

    —  seek to provide equality of opportunity for all staff

    —  promote an atmosphere of honesty, openness and tolerance

  In our approach to the external world we will . . .

    —  deal fairly with our contractors

    —  strengthen our links with the Church of England, the Church in Wales and other Christian churches.

  The Children's Society's Social Work Division's overall anti-discrimination practice standard states:

  In all our work with children, young people and adults, we will:

    —  respect diversity;

    —  use language that is understandable and respectful;

    —  plan for environmental features which are sensitive to difference;

    —  create and offer opportunities for individuals and groups to express their views and be heard;

    —  work in a way that aims to ensure they have opportunities and choice as well as responsibilities towards others; and

    —  think about the existence of and potential for oppressive experiences and practice of both those with whom we work and staff.

2.1  Anti-discriminatory Practice

  The Children's Society wishes to provide a service in Wales which is 100 per cent accessible to all who might be able to benefit whether their preferred language is Welsh or English. In addition, we wish to promote the rights of those Welsh speakers, particularly children and young people, whose preferred language is Welsh, to use it when dealing with The Children's Society employees. The present situation adversely affects both referrals and job applications from the Welsh speaking community, because the service is mostly offered through English rather than Welsh.

2.2  Culturally Sensitive Practice

  It is important that structures are developed to enable new users to freely identify themselves as Welsh speakers so that The Children's Society can arrange for them to receive the most effective and appropriate service.

2.3  Consumer Rights

  Those consumers who are Welsh speaking should be able to enjoy the right to receive the service, and also to participate in decisions about the service, in their preferred language. The present situation inhibits the development of the kind of participative community service that The Children's Society has pledged itself to provide.


  The Children's Society will work towards a bilingual policy, offering services in Welsh and English whenever possible and enabling children and young people, volunteers, supporters, staff and users to use either language when dealing with us.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 15 February 2002