I am devastated about Camila and the demise of Kids Company, and it saddens me so deeply to think of the effect this will have on the thousands of children she personally cares about and loves.
Because she does, i believed her when she told me that and it was evident from the way her workers were so committed to Kids Company and the work they do, (I was lucky enough to be shown around and explained the workings of the charity in 2011), and the atmosphere of the building.
I emailed Camila’s office when I was making Babyhood and I wanted to connect the idea that not looking after a child’s needs at an early age affected their brains, and had a detrimental affect on their lives. Camila had extensive experience of this and I persevered and eventually she agreed to a meeting to discuss my ideas for my film.
I was very nervous as she is indeed larger than life and I really felt her connection to the subject matter was so important to the film. However, after we spoke for a while about what i was trying to do she agreed to be filmed, and i was over the moon.
Her interview was long, although i could have continued for longer as she is so fascinating, but she had more work to do, it was Friday evening, about 8pm. She has/had 3 personal assistants (for the morning, evening and weekend) so she literally devoted her entire life to the work she did at Kids Company, so I just don’t believe any of the media articles telling me otherwise. It is a witch hunt against a public figure unafraid to tell the truth about a very uncomfortable subject for our politicians, and I am going to let Camila explain why in excerpts from my transcripts of her interview for the film below…
“I love the children I work with, and I think they don’t have a voice in society because they don’t vote and therefore politicians don’t prioritize their needs. And when children are being abused often by their own carers, their carers aren’t going to advocate on their behalf either, so i guess i am lucky enough to have won their trust, and to be able to speak out in ways that they educate me to do.It’s very interesting how people think about vulnerable children, and children in general, politicians on the whole, tend to think about children in the way that matches their own lives, so they make political decisions that are very close to the narrative of their own lives and often its upper middle class type lives with certain givens.And in some ways, within that context, let’s say parenting classes or information for parents, is useful, but it’s also true to say that they are not a set of parents who need education, and they don’t need information about whether to use the naughty chair or not to use the naughty chair, what they need is a programme of emotional recovery because their inability to parent their children is a result of them not having received the quality of love and care they needed to be able to have a mind that can actually think about another person’s needs, rather than a mind that is trapped in survival.Politicians are not good at conceptualizing that group, and the other group they are very bad at conceptualizing, are children and young people who have already run away from home and are surviving on the streets and therefore are not parented, and Britain has a large number of these children and young people that it doesn’t admit to.And their need to survive at street level, is causing havoc for children who are well cared for and don’t wanna be violent.
She went on to tell me about the actual numbers of children who are suffering from abuse in this country and how they aren’t being supported by the system, which is why a charity like Kids Company, where people can literally walk in off the street and ask for help (and invariably get some kind of help) is unique and essential.
I’m appalled at our governments response that Kids Company closed due to “financial mismanagement”. It would be far better to ask why the government wouldn’t make a case to bail out a charity that picked up the huge overspill of children who needed help but aren’t given any by statutory services that exist already.
There are 1.5 million children being abused and neglected in Britain every year.This is an internationally recognized figure.The government makes funding available for 86,900.So there’s a massive discrepancy, and actually if you look at the office of national statistics in the last 10 years, you will find that the child protection statistics are suspiciously consistent.So last year we have 603,700 children referred to child protection, the bulk of them receive an assessment, (so someone does either a brief assessment or a more detailed assessment), but in the long run only 39,100 children were given a social worker and a plan and because social work departments get fined if they keep a child on that register more than a year, in the end after the year there were only 3,200 children left on that register.And what you notice, because i have just had someone analyze it all, is that actually this is statistically within the same set of numbers year in year out, which means that our child protection system is not responsive to the needs of children, it is a predetermined number of allowances into which abused children are fitting or being excluded from, and that in essence is the problem, the state doesn’t step in to protect children who have been harmed, therefore children who have been harmed have to initiate their own survival. And that can look ugly.
There is no way to look at what has happened and not feel the significance of the wider picture. These children are being failed by us all. The one place they relied on some help from, has gone, and reading the mainstream media’s narrative, no-one cares about them. And with that idea floating around a mind that already is “surviving trauma”, what hope can we have of healing these poor troubled amazing children to take part in society and follow the wishes of any individual/community let alone government rather than continue along some unresolved, unsupported, unloved path.