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 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.12
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.

I like to go into the woods and take my kids out to the park
I like to sit with them at bedtime, tell them stories, point at stars
I basically like doing things together that are free
Cos I like to play I like to chat and don’t have so much money
They say mummy can we go and play
We get our coats and run
But today our trusty play park wasn’t so much fun.
The one gate that was there last week had now been cut in two
The left hand side was pink and the right hand side was blue
The left hand side said “Girls”, the right hand side said “Boys”
The play park had been split like every shop does to their toys.
Oh shit I thought, looking round, which side should I stand on?
I need to play games with my daughter and play games with my son
The swings were on the girls’ side, sprayed in pretty glitter paint
The slide was on the boys, and the wobbling bridge and train, ofcourse
The fireman’s pole was blue cos we know girls cannot slide down those
All they do is dance around them, twist and twirl and point their toes
The roundabout was with the girls, shaped into a princess crown
And a brick wall down the middle separated all the middle ground
The mud was on the boys side and the puddles and the grass
But the sky was on the girls side with the clouds shaped into hearts.
The trees were on the boys side, cos the girls who climbed all fell
And the flowers were on the girls side, cos little boys don’t like the smell
A net was built which reached to space and a tunnel built below
So that the park rangers could tell all the animals which side to go
The butterflies and birds were trapped and forced to fly on girly left
But the bugs and beetles underground were forced below our future men
The duck pond was on the left and the ducks all painted pink
But the duck weed and the dirt was on the right with stones and twigs
The rain and grey cloud thunderstorms and lightening struck the boys side
Cos girls clothes didn’t keep them warm and they didn’t like the noise
The warm, sunny sunshine and white fluffy clouds
Were told to shine for girls alone so they could smile and prance about
The girls were given mirrors and the boys were given swords
Blood was on the boys side (except for periods of course)
My son and daughter ran around, a bit confused but soon relaxed
And any kid who tried to cross was labelled gay or weird or twat
And when their bellies started rumbling and hunger had kicked in
We came out of the play park and found a picnic spot to sit in
I got out the apples, orange squash, cheese sandwiches and rolls
I told them both a story about billy goats and trolls
Then took out the picnic flask with one straw for each kid
But just as they put the straws up to their little thirsty lips
The park ranger was upon us selling official food and drink
A picnic box of blue juice and another box of pink
I’m afraid you cannot share those things between your girls and boys, he begged
Cos if we split your kids up, we sell twice as many toys, he said
We have Disney princess juice for girls and robot juice for future kings
Branded yoghurts, branded sweets, just buy two of everything
Lego blocks to build a plane or lego friends and flower stalls
Pink toys if she has a fanny, blue toys if your kid has balls
My kids were confused at first but soon fitted right in
My daughter learnt her princess pose and my son practiced fighting
And now every night I call my kids for bedtime one by one
I read my son a robot story and my daughter one called princess love
Kiss my daughter on the cheek and give my on a firm high five
And we look out of the window and gaze into the night
My son looks for planets, Mars of course, if not, the moon
And my daughter looks at stars because they twinkle just like diamonds do.
I take them to the toilet to do their final bedtime loo
My daughter does a rainbow wee, my son a massive stinking poo
I tuck them into bed and pull up covers lined with trains and hearts
My daughter falls asleep without a sound, my son falls asleep in farts
And as the sun sets on another day and the daylight turns to dark
I pray that toy shops never own our forests or our parks.

check out Hollie’s website here

My film has started to be watched on the other side of the world. Australia. There seems to be a big community of instinctual parenting in Australia, not that I met any when I was there at least a decade ago. But in those days I couldn’t have been less interested in babies!

It has also been watched in Denmark. As far as I understand Denmark is way more progressive than the UK with the length of maternity leave and paternity leave. If only we could follow in their footsteps with that, and with the way they educate their young children, they allow them to play up until 6 and only then start trying to teach them to read and write or is that Sweden…? Sue Palmer talked to me extensively when I met her, and as a Literacy Specialist I think she would know.  I wish I could be assured that when i send my little one’s to nursery school there wasn’t someone trying to teach them to read and write rather than just play and sing…

I am really excited to see that the Association for Infant mental health have seen it worthy to upload my trailer to their news page! You can see it here

or watch the full film here

Having a toddler is one of the hardest part of parenting for me…so far!

I love this poem from Hollie McNish..

Now you can walk and now you can run
Now that new words drip each day from your tongue
Now that your mind is becoming itself
Now that your child is developing strength
Now that your thoughts have become independent
Your brain is conceiving it’s first self reflections
Now that your dreams are becoming to grow
Now that your own self is starting to show
Now that your confidence is swelling each day
And all baby like features are floating away
Now that your self is making it’s moves
We complain and claim that its terrible twos
Our first shitty label for small humankind
The minute they start to know their own minds

WOW – a very brave woman on the cover of Time magazine defending extended breastfeeding, and why not as she herself was breastfed until she self-weaned, and has warm memories of it. Interesting, as the conversations that are now going on are about her and the cover, rather than the portrait of Dr. Sears whom they call the man who remade motherhood.

In my film i talked to Suzanne Zeedyk about attachment theory, not to be confused with attachment parenting – although it is somehow born of the theory. Basically it is the idea that the better the relationship the baby has with it’s caregiver (s) the more chance that their brain will develop in the best way possible, and their ability to have relationships with other people throughout their lives will be optimal. It makes sense really.

It seems inevitable that women are getting defensive about how they are bringing up their children, as guilt and blame still feature so highly in this discussion. But I hope we can move away from feeling guilty about weaning our babies when we do, and accepting the differences in every family, and instead start to look as a whole at our attitudes towards babies and children, as we need to accept that…

“we have to take immense responsibility for care, as you [we] are generating the fundamentals of another human being for the rest of their lives” Camila Batmanghelidjh