Kids Company: Who is Camila Batmanghelidjh and why has her charity closed?

Kids Company has shut its doors after 19 years

Heather Saul
Thursday 06 August 2015 13:14 BST
Camila Batmanghelidjh founder of Kids Company
Camila Batmanghelidjh founder of Kids Company

Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of the now defunct Kids Company, has become a memorable public figure throughout her role at the forefront of the charity.

The charity closed its doors at 7pm on Wednesday after funding was withdrawn by a donor.

Batmanghelidjh claims she is the subject of a "malicious discrediting campaign" and believes people inside Government believe she is too outspoken about child services. The charity has previously enjoyed support from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Who is she?

Batmanghelidjh was born in the Iranian capital of Tehran to wealthy Iranian and Belgian parents, according to her profile on the Specialist Speakers website.

Batmanghelidjh says she does not know her birthday because she was sent home without being registered, but believes she is aged around 50. She moved to England with her family aged 12, studied at the private Sherborne Girls school in Dorset and went on to receive a first class degree in theatre and dramatic arts from Warwick University.

Batmanghelidjh then relocated to London and trained as a therapist before founding the Kids Company in 1996.

What is the Kids Company?

The Kids Company described itself as a charity that supported some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children, young people and their families through centres in London and Bristol and through an outreach programme in Liverpool.

Why has the charity closed?

Batmanghelidjh says a £3 million handout from a benefactor philanthropist was pulled after news broke that the charity was being investigated by Scotland Yard’s child abuse unit. She says the charity was struggling to cope financially because of the sheer volume of children self-referring and because it was forced to deal with a number of child protection cases that were not being managed by the Government.

The Government says ministers wanted to recover a separate £3m grant given to the charity because it believed certain conditions attached to the way the money was spent had been breached.

Kids Company then closed on Wednesday evening after running out of funds to operate.

Speaking after announcing the closure, Batmanghelidjh said: “As far as I know, I acted responsibly, I asked for help early enough, and I feel the Government failed to honour its responsibility to these most vulnerable children.”

What will happen to service users?

Batmanghelidjh said she did not know what would happen to the children and who would manage their needs.

The Cabinet Office said the welfare of these children continues to be its primary concern. A spokesperson said: “We are now working closely with local authorities to make sure they have access to the services they require."

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