‘Arson attacks’ warning over Kids Company closure

Following the closure of Kids Company, there were protests ' but no looting, riots or arson attacks. Picture: Getty
Following the closure of Kids Company, there were protests ' but no looting, riots or arson attacks. Picture: Getty
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THE charity, Kids Company, warned ministers prior to its collapse that there was a “high risk of arson attacks on government buildings” should it close suddenly, according to reports.

BBC Newsnight and Buzzfeed News obtained a leaked e-mail reportedly sent to the Cabinet Office by the charity’s chairman of trustees, Alan Yentob, on 2 June, ahead of the government’s decision to award a £3 million grant.

The document, which the BBC said formed part of the case made by the charity in order to obtain the grant, also claimed there would be a high risk of “rioting and “looting” as communities served by Kids Company could “descend into savagery”.

Mr Yentob, who is also the BBC’s creative director, told the broadcaster the document was an appendix setting out the risks of the charity folding.

Kids Company closed on 5 August – amid allegations of financial mismanagement, drug taking and sexual abuse – and is now subject to a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission.

A week before the charity’s closure it was given the government grant – against the advice of senior civil servants – that was partly used for salaries.

The document warned: “We have created a structure which acts as a substitute parent and extended family. The endings of these relationships will be therefore potentially equivalent to death of the primary care giver i.e. a mother, a father.

“We are… concerned that these children and families will be left without services in situations of sexual, psychological or emotional abuse, neglect and malnutrition and facing homelessness and further destitution.

“Without a functioning space for hope, positivity and genuine care, these communities will descend into savagery due to sheer desperation.”

Mr Yentob said: “It’s widely acknowledged that Kids Company has done vital work with vulnerable children and young adults. The document… was an appendix written by the safeguarding team, who set out all the potential risks to be taken into account in the event of closure.

“Despite the support of local authorities, many of those who received support from Kids Company remain at risk. The welfare and safety of both the young people and the communities in which they live continues to be of great concern.”

Meanwhile, children’s charity Options4Change said it had been contacted by around 40 families who had used Kids Company and said it needed help to support them.

Its founder Donna Sinclair said: “We are dealing with families being broken up, parents not being able to feed their children, they don’t even have basic travel expenses.”

Leader of Southwark Council Peter John said the language used was “pretty extraordinary” adding he thought the warnings were “fairly insulting” to people in the borough.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I simply don’t recognise these risks arising out of the failure of Kids Company.”

He added: “I just think it’s extraordinary language and as I say insulting to hard-working social workers within our local authority who are working day in day out to deal with these children.”