‘There is no doubt that Kids Company has made a big difference to the lives of some very vulnerable children. But so have Barnardos, the Children’s Society, Trussell Trust foodbanks and many, many more low-profile children’s charities whose names are less familiar.’
~ Left Foot Forward Mag
The journalist who listed Barnado’s did so I believe without catching the irony. Founded in 1866 to care for vulnerable people and young children, it has not been without its controversies. Since 2011 Barnardo’s has been criticised for its work in Cedars, the name chosen by UK Immigration Enforcement for what it describes as “pre-departure accommodation” (detention facility) near Gatwick Airport used to hold families with children pending deportation.
Barnardo’s provided “welfare and social care facilities” at the detention centre, which is managed on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration by private security company G4S. Barnardo’s had been criticised by Frances Webber of the Institute of Race Relations for “legitimising child detention”.
Activists opposed to the detention of children, such as members of the No Border network, had mounted a campaign against the charity’s involvement in Cedars including actions such as occupying Barnardo’s London head office in February 2012,and disrupting the “Barnardo’s Young Supporters” choir concert at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2012.
As for The Children’s Society, it became embroiled in a cash row in 2001, when it decided to bring its work in Wales to a close.
Staff at the Children’s Society in Wales demanded the charity hand over more than £5m worth of assets to help them continue their work past 2002. The staff also warned they need emergency funding worth £300,000 in the interim if they were to maintain services over the following nine months whilst they set up a new children’s charity.
At the time the Children’s Society was running 14 projects across the country, providing advocacy, family support and anti-poverty work.
‘We can ask the question about whether better-managed charities might have spent £160 million with better long-term outcomes for children. There is also no doubt that Kids Company has diverted funds – both statutory grants and private donations – from other children’s charities.’
~Another quote from Left Foot Forward
Yes, the question should be asked, could other charities have done better? That is other charities working with child gang members, many of whom are between the ages of ten and fifteen, quite a few of whom are involved in the commission of criminal offences, a significant number of whom are psychologically disturbed. Could those charities also have managed parents who may also have been gang members & had issues of their own, well enough to be able to reach those children & help them professionally? I doubt it, I doubt it on the basis of the little I have seen & the little I have been obliged to learn.
I can recall a black middle-class professional attempting to help her mother raise her gang-banging brother’s kids. She described the entire experience as an unbridled nightmare, simply because she lacked the professional expertise to be able to handle her brother & his partners constant to-ing and fro-ing and the impact this had on the stability of two children. She also lacked the professional help she needed, in order to manage the situation. She could have done with an organisation like Kids Company being around then.
Has Kids Company fallen down on its management of its finances, very likely, but it would not be the first charity to do so. Have they fallen foul of a refusal to be more diplomatic in articulating the needs of their children and the way in which this government had been failing them? I suspect so, but then again it wouldn’t be the first charity to do so.
Remember the Trussell Trust? It‘s chair person had said that the charity made a decision to tone down its criticisms of the benefit system, after someone in power warned them that they could get shut down. Well, Kids Company has been shut down, and in such a way that one can sense this Tory government’s slick, lubricated fingerprints all over this particular tragedy. It’s a tragedy because it takes months and years to build up the trust that enable kids like these to be reached.
Months and years, not just money. All the middle-class and upper-class critics of this charity forget one thing, getting money was never the issue for these kids. If you’re dealing drugs, mugging people, breaking and entering and shoplifting, you will have access to money. Feeling safe, feeling loved, having academic hopes and dreams realised, getting fed and having access to ‘legitimate’ money were the issues.