THE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY'S WELSH LANGUAGE SCHEME
1.1 Welsh Language Act and the Voluntary Sector
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
Our Fundraising Division interface with many
sectors where a bilingual approach would be advantageous to the
Societyin 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.
2. THE CHILDREN'S
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
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:
use language that is understandable
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.