‘Ill-spirited’ ministers forced Kids Company closure

Camila Batmanghelidjh blamed 'rumour-mongering civil servants and ill-spirited ministers'. Picture: PA
Camila Batmanghelidjh blamed 'rumour-mongering civil servants and ill-spirited ministers'. Picture: PA
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The founder of Kids Company has blamed “ill-spirited ministers” for forcing the charity to close and “abandon a lot of children”.

Camila Batmanghelidjh insisted she had acted responsibly and blasted the government for “airbrushing” the circumstances surrounding the demise of the charity she founded 19 years ago.

Kids Company closed its doors at 7pm last night.

In an interview due to be broadcast at 8pm today on BBC Radio 4, Ms Batmanghelidjh said: “By the time you broadcast, unfortunately the charity’s closed and we’ve had to abandon a lot of children.”

She added: “That’s the end of Kids Company and a bunch of rumour-mongering civil servants, ill-spirited ministers and the media, on the back of a range of rumours, put the nail in this organisation and shut it.”

Ms Batmanghelidjh questioned David Cameron’s role in the demise of her charity – despite it receiving a £3 million grant from the Cabinet Office last week after agreeing, on the orders of the government, to make changes in its leadership, management and governance.

But Ms Batmanghelidjh 
e-mailed staff within the charity last week to say they would be paid using some of the grant money, according to reports.

She said: “I have to think what do I do? There is insolvency law that requires you to behave in a particular way. Therefore, the doors have to shut and there cannot be any service provision – insurance stops, everything stops. But I am still left with these kids and their needs. This is devastating – where is the Prime Minister of this country saying what’s going to happen to these children?”

Asked if she felt personal responsibility, Ms Batmanghelidjh said the charity had needed money for staff and running costs at a time when donors wanted to buy specific items, such as equipment. This meant government funding was needed, she said.

“I can’t run an organisation on the back of this level of uncertainty,” she said.

“So the answer as far as I know I acted responsibly, I asked for help early enough and I feel that government failed to honour its responsibility to these most vulnerable children.

“We live in a climate where everything is airbrushed by this government.”

The organisation works with 36,000 children and young people, and officials, charities and councils have been in discussions preparing for the impact the closure could have.

The youth organisation has been hit by allegations of bad financial management, prompting its high-profile founder to quit as chief executive.

Ministers agreed to give the extra cash to help restructure the charity despite official objections from a Whitehall mandarin who warned it would not offer “value for money”.

Esther Keller, director of services for Kids Company in Bristol, said she felt anger at Westminster and concern for the children who would lose out on support.

She said staff were told yesterday morning that the charity would close within 24 hours, with the doors set to be locked for the final time at 5pm.

She said: “I feel terrible sadness for the children and young people we have been working with for the past three years in Bristol. They will be hungry, they will be desperate because no therapists will be helping with their emotional state. It’s going to be devastating.”

The high-profile charity, which operates in London, Bristol and Liverpool, has been shaken by claims it has not properly managed its finances.