5 Days Remaining

Saturday 4th
posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

A FORMER client of charity Kids Company told the Star yesterday that the resignation of chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh over a government funding row would worsen the suffering of deprived children who depend on it.

Jennifer-Jane Benjamin, from London, first turned to the charity while at primary school and also sought help as a teenager after social services refused to take on her case because she didn’t meet their “thresholds for abuse” criteria.

Kids Company bought her a school uniform when she did not have one, found her a place to live when she was homeless at 13 and gave her supermarket vouchers when she had no food.

She said: “This is a personal attack on Camila. The only ones who’ll suffer are the kids.

“I hope the charity will survive, but I can’t help but feel that a rejection of her is a rejection of all she has been fighting for, for all these years.”

The charity, started in 1996, helps 36,000 inner-city children and young adults in London, Liverpool and Bristol, with its £20 million annual costs being partially covered by a £3m government grant.

High-profile founder Ms Batmanghelidjh has announced she is stepping down because the Conservative government threatened to stop that funding unless she quits, in an attempt to “silence” her.

She will take up a new advocacy and clinical psychotherapy role once a replacement has been appointed.

But she is not going without a fight as she said that Prime Minister David Cameron’s office is trying to “discredit” her so that her “message is weakened.”

She has rejected allegations that the charity managed funds badly, disproved by 19 years of audits and a London School of Economics study, insisting such claims are a “red herring.”

The government is actually attacking her for highlighting the devastating effects of harsh social spending and welfare cuts to dodge responsibility for a job they should be doing, she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday.

Ms Batmanghelidjh said: “My interest is to make sure the children are OK.

“This argument has emerged recently because government is not facing its responsibilities robustly.”