A CHILDREN'S charity which pulled out of Wales was last night accused of "reprehensible behaviour" for continuing to solicit Welsh support.
The Children's Society is now targeting previous Welsh supporters for donations, even though it controversially quit Wales two-and-a-half years ago.
Yesterday the Church in Wales took the surprising step of strongly criticising the charity - which was known as the Church of England Children's Society up until 1982.
"The Church in Wales considers it totally reprehensible that The Children's Society are still touting for financial support from the people of Wales, having ceased operating in a preemptory manner two years ago," a spokesman said.
"We have raised this issue with The Children's Society on a number of occasions.
"The people of Wales now have a clear alternative in the Archbishop of Wales' Fund for Children and we encourage those people who wish to contribute to supporting the welfare of children in Wales to contribute to this fund."
In November 2001 then Archbishop of Wales Rowan Williams said he was "deeply disappointed" by The Children's Society's decision to leave Wales and resigned from his position as the charity's president.
"We are deeply disappointed and concerned that The Children's Society are proposing the drastic step of withdrawing completely from Wales," he said at the time.
However, now as the Archbishop of Canterbury he is president of the charity set up in 1881 by the Church of England.
David Davies, Conservative AM for Monmouth, said he felt the plea for help within Wales was "disgusting".
"It's absolutely appalling and people should be made aware that the money will not go to help children in Wales and I will be writing to the Charity Commission as I find this unacceptable.
"As The Children's Society excludes Wales, I think it is grossly, morally wrong to raise money in an area which is excluded from their help.
"We would expect The Children's Society to stop raising money in Wales if it won't help children in Wales. A lot of people refer to England when they mean Britain and I wonder how many people will hand over money without realising it won't help children in Wales?
"There are a lot of worthy charities in Wales and we should encourage people to give to those. I'm not saying we shouldn't give to charities working in the likes of Africa, but it is clear what work they are doing."
Mr Davies added, "Perhaps we should encourage Rowan Williams, a respected man who has a lot of influence, to either ask the charity to reintroduce their work in Wales, or at least call on The Children's Society to stop fundraising in Wales if they are not prepared to help Welsh children."
A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that Dr Williams is still the charity's president and that as part of his role within the Church of England he was called upon to support many organisations.
In November 2001 The Children's Society announced it would quit Wales by July 2002, cancelling 13 key projects which employed more than 120 people.
Health Minister Jane Hutt and the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in Westminster both demanded the decision be reversed, but the society went ahead with its decision, with the aim of saving £1.1m.
A spokesman for The Children's Society said yesterday, "When we pulled out of Wales we wrote to all our supporters and asked them to support Tros Gynnal, the charity that took over a lot of our work in Wales and were very open about the fact that we don't have centres in Wales."
He added that there were still those in Wales who choose to support the charity's work, including one committee - compared with 29 before November 2001. He said people could remove their names from The Children's Society's mailing list if they so wished.
Alun Cairns, Conservative AM for South Wales West, said, "These actions are extremely disappointing as there was widespread condemnation of The Children's Society's actions to pull out of Wales. It was as though Wales was lopped off their charity spectrum and I find it extremely arrogant to hear that they are still canvassing the Welsh public to support the needy in England."
One of the charity's former supporters, from Bridgend, was angered by its move to pull out of Wales but still ask for cash.
He said last night, "I certainly won't be giving anything to the society. If it was for the whole of Britain and Wales was included and our kids would get some benefit, then fair enough. But I think they have a nerve to exclude Wales entirely and then have the cheek to ask people in Wales to fundraise."
For details about the Archbishop of Wales' Fund for Children visit the website churchinwales.org.uk/awffc If you would like to remove your name from The Children's Society mailing list, call 0845 300 1128.