"I'm worried people might kill themselves" - Inside the collapse of Kids Company

Will the media have “blood on its hands” as Kids Company closes its doors?

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company

The prominent children’s charity, Kids Company, was forced to close yesterday after allegations of abuse and sexual offences prompted a major philanthropist and the government to pull millions of pounds of funding from the organisation.

Kids Company was founded 19 years ago by Camila Batmanghelidjh, who today said the charity had become “a football for the media and the civil servants”.

It had branches in London, Bristol and Liverpool, and employed 650 people.

The instant closure of the charity will leave the young people it was supporting without care.

LondonLovesBusiness spoke to a Kids Company key worker from Bristol to find out what the instant impact of the organisation’s collapse will mean for the young people it was supporting.

 

Q. What’s happening in Bristol today?

It’s really devastating. Today I’m with the young people, sorting out what we can do now.

Obviously I’m not being paid. I’ve lost my job. But I’m hoping that we can develop another service in Bristol and that is what we’re doing now.

We’re trying to put other services in place and anybody who can put a bit of funding towards Bristol or London for other services, please think about it.

This has happened because of the government not wanting to continue giving us the money.

 

Q. Did you have an inkling that the service was in trouble?

Yeah, we had an inkling. We were told that it was going to be a reduced service. But we never thought the whole thing would shut. We thought last week it was in trouble, but then we got money from the government and from philanthropists.

And then because the philanthropists pulled the money and the government said “we want our money back”. So that was the end. They had to close the service.

Kids Company is about love. And it’s devastating because none of the other services do what we do. We go beyond and above to help those young people. It’s disgusting what has happened. And what’s now happening to these young people.

The government needs to step up, the media has completely focused on rumours. And it’s the media that has really done this.

It’s a complete shock. And we’re still here working – volunteering.

Kids Company

Workers protesting the closure of Kids Company in London yesterday

Q. What will happen to the vulnerable young people?

I’m worried that people might kill themselves. I’m worried that they are going to feel completely unloved and rejected. We’re not rejecting them, but they might feel that way. And I’m worried that they won’t have a roof to sleep under – a lot of my young people are homeless and I’m in the process of trying to house them. Some of them are in very, very difficult situations. We support them so much and give them care and love, so it’s really worrying.

What I hope is that in Bristol, we’ll somehow get some funding coming our way and we’ll be able to continue. We’d only just finished completing the new building. When we moved in was a real shambles. We spent the last year transforming the building. Now it looks amazing and all the young people love it.

 

Q. Who do you feel most angry with?

I feel really angry with how the media has portrayed the charity, and angry with the journalist who wrote the Spectator article – he could end up with blood on his hands.

We’re now doing our best in a really difficult situation. Charities are never going to be perfect, but we can try, and I don’t think any other service has provided what we have. We’ve done a very difficult job in very difficult circumstances.

And I think that under this government, things like this are only going to get worse for child services. Social services have actually relied on us for a lot of support. From what I’ve seen, lots of services are reducing. It’s disgusting what the government has done, and what the media has done.

 

Update: Our source wanted to impress the “incredible contribution Camila Batmanghelidjh has made to vulnerable young people’s lives”, and added that Batmanghelidjh has been an “inspirational leader”.

 

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Readers' comments (5)

  • It's obvious that the lack of proper financial control of Kid's Company has led to the present situation. It would have happened a lot sooner if it had not been for its support from Cameron and other big-wigs, notably the BBC. Recently they were let off £700,000 tax they owed. They have got away with things no other charity would have got away with, have had a huge amount from the Government over the years, which they've been handing out, it seems, to almost any teenager with enough of a sob story, who just turn up once a week to collect their 'pay' Blame its founder who was really good at talking up politicians, but really useless in controlling what happened with the vast amount of taxpayer's money they were handed.

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  • Anonymous

    What a ludicrous comment. Despite some media reports, the charity's policy is not simply giving out "pay" to anyone. When desperate people did get given assistance, it was in the form of vouchers.

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  • Given the poor management at the Charity it had to close, only one person to blame Camila Batmanghelidjh

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  • Anonymous

    A lot of very good charities survive on an awful lot less. This is no one’s elses fault but their own miss management so stop blaming the government and press. I wonder how much of the 40m of tax payers money enabled Camila Batmanghelidjh to live like a queen?

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  • From what I have heard or read thus far, there were more staff than kids, and the place was covered with murals, but it wasn't clear whether they'd been produced by the staff or the kids. Huge sums of taxpayers' money were spent on vouchers for 'unregistered' people/families, which one presumes translates into illegal immigrants? Aren't they supposed to be moved out of the country, not supported in it by this ridiculous-looking woman, and a handful of taxpayers' hard-earned cash?

    Liberal governments need to stop burying their collective heads in the sand whenever serious issues involving immigrants, black people, or other ethnic minorities arise, because they're afraid of some pc stooge waiting in the wings to label them.

    One final observation. I can't believe the irresponsibility behind the ridiculous woman's remarks about the possibility of a child killing themselves...and she headed this organisation?

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