Socialist Worker

Closure of Kids Company highlights lack of real social care provision

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2466

Kids Company supporters protest last week

Kids Company supporters protest last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Young people and families supported by children’s charity Kids Company protested in the street at the news that it had been shut down.

Several hundred families marched alongside former Kids Company staff to Downing Street on Friday of last week. 

They carried home-made banners and placards with slogans such as “Bail out the kids”, and “Children’s lives matter”. 

One young child said his family “would be living in the streets” without the charity. Another told the BBC he needed it because it provided food. The charity said it had 36,000 children on its books. 

The charity’s founder, Camila Batmanghelidjh, stood down last month. 

This was a condition for continuing government funding—but its doors closed despite a payment of £3 million of public money.

Batmanghelidjh claims the charity was allowed to go down because she became “outspoken”. 

She criticised state provision for young people and claimed she knew of child sexual abuse by leading politicians. 

It is not clear whether she reported this abuse to the authorities. 

Kids Company had celebrity backers and was lauded by both Tony Blair and David Cameron whose governments funded it with millions of pounds. 

Money

Tony Staunton, a child protection social worker told Socialist Worker, “Why give a charity millions of pounds of public money when children’s social care is falling apart?”

The scale of local council budget cuts can mean more people rely on charities. But many of these organisations also rely on official funding which is being slashed. 

Tony pointed to the problems of relying on unaccountable charities for services. 

This can been seen in the way Kids Company’s ideology sometimes reflected the “Victorian values” mainstream politicians promote.

Tony said this “fed the idea that young people who were vulnerable were dangerous and pushed a deterministic brand of ideology about the poor”.

Batmanghelidjh has argued that children’s brains were changed by neglect and violence. 

In 2009 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) demanded Kids Company withdraw two adverts featuring majority young black people. One included images of brains of different sizes. 

The ASA stated that this “focused on a negative image of black teenagers that was likely to reinforce negative stereotypes and was therefore racist”. 

But inequality cannot be explained by biology. As Tony pointed out, “What we have to keep coming back to is the fact that one third of children live in poverty.”

They are suffering the sharp end of the Tory attacks. They deserve the right to a decent life—they shouldn’t have to depend on charity to survive.


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News
Tue 11 Aug 2015, 18:00 BST
Issue No. 2466
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