الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

Kids Company a political 'football'

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Kids Company has become “a football for the media and the civil servants”, the charity’s founder has said.

Camila Batmanghelidjh told the BBC the charity had run out of money because the government had not taken responsibility for child protection.

Kids Company closed on Wednesday after ministers said they wanted to recover a £3m grant given to the charity.

The Cabinet Office said it believed conditions attached to the use of the money had not been met.

Ms Batmanghelidjh told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Kids Company had been subjected to a “trial by media” based on “rumours and conjectures”.

She said reasons for the charity closing included:

  • it was dealing with too many serious child protection cases that should have been dealt with by government
  • not enough funding was given to deal with the number of young people the charity supported
  • individuals within the government wanted the charity to “disappear”
  • the fact Ms Batmanghelidjh was “outspoken” and highlighted problems about UK child protection
  • a police investigation into the charity – which she said would find no wrongdoing

What did Kids Company do?

It provided services including counselling, walk-in centres with hot meals and help with housing and healthcare for children and young people whose parents were often unable to care for them.

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

How did the controversy start?

“It feels like we’ve lost a parent”.


David Cameron has been a prominent supporter of Ms Batmanghelidjh

‘Hand to mouth’

The government released £3m to Kids Company last week after Ms Batmanghelidjh confirmed she would step aside and take on a new advocacy and clinical role.

But now the Cabinet Office is making plans to recover the grant because it believes the conditions attached to the use of the money were not met.

The £3m grant had been intended for a “transformation and downsizing plan” that would support the charity as it reformed itself, but the BBC understands £800,000 of the money was used to pay its monthly wage bill.

Ms Batmanghelidjh said parts of the government and civil service wanted Kids Company to “disappear off the patch”.

She denied she was responsible for the charity closing.

But she said: “I failed because I didn’t raise enough money because there isn’t money out there to raise. That is where I failed, and I raised the alarm about it.

“This government is being so disingenuous because what are all these cases doing at our door when they should be at their door.”

Asked if Kids Company’s finances could have been run more efficiently, Ms Batmanghelidjh said the charity had struggled from a lack of funding rather than its financial management.

She said the charity had passed every audit in its 19-year history “without trouble” and had never received a “single letter” from the government criticising the way it operated.

Ms Batmanghelidjh accepted Kids Company had a “hand to mouth existence”, but said it was struggling to cope with the number of children “pouring through our doors” and “self-referring off the street”.

“It’s not about bad management on our part, it’s about trying to sort out something that society isn’t dealing with,” she said.

Ms Batmanghelidjh previously told the BBC a donor withdrew an offer of £3m after finding out Scotland Yard’s child abuse unit was investigating the charity.

Last week the Metropolitan Police’s sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command opened an investigation into serious allegations that details of incidents involving young people who used the charity were not passed to police.

The charity said it always met its obligations to report crimes.

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