Children’s charity Kids Company closed today, due to a lack of funds.
In a statement, the charity said that its 11 centres had shut and its outreach project in Liverpool and work with over 40 schools had ceased with immediate effect because of an inability to pay its debts.
In a statement, the charity’s trustees said: “It is with the greatest sadness and reluctance that we have reached the decision to close Kids Company. We have been forced to do so because collectively, despite the extraordinary efforts of [founder] Camila [Batmanghelidhj] and her team, some truly enlightened philanthropists and the government, we have not been able to continue.”
The statement came at the end of a day of increasingly feverish speculation about the fate of the charity.
In a story published yesterday, Buzzfeed News and BBC Newsnight reported that two government insiders had said that the charity would shut today after a £3 million government grant given to it last week was used to pay staff wages rather than used for restructuring as intended. It is understood that the government was trying to recover the £3 million.
Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of the charity who agreed to step down as chief executive last month amid controversy surrounding its finances, then confirmed the closure this afternoon.
In an interview with the BBC radio show ‘The Report’ that is due to air tomorrow evening, she said: “By the time you broadcast, unfortunately the charity’s closed and we’ve had to abandon a lot of children.”
“That’s it, it’s the end of Kids Company and actually a bunch of rumour-mongering civil servants, ill-spirited ministers and the media, on the back of a range of rumours, put the nail in this organisation and shut it.”
This morning, the embattled organisation, which is also being investigated for alleged criminal activity taking place on its premises, took to Facebook to attack the “media frenzy” surrounding it.
“Regrettably, some journalists have been paying our most disturbed young people for stories. This included an approach to a drug-addicted mum. The negative publicity that is generated as a result of rumours and irresponsible journalism will impact our fundraising and cause irreparable damage,” the statement said.
“Ultimately, maltreated children who have already paid a price for abuse of trust by adults, will yet again suffer. We are grateful to all those journalists who have given our children and young people a voice and upheld the truth. Our collective focus should be the welfare of children who have placed their trust in Kids Company.”
In her formal statement on the closure, Batmanghelidjh said: “We have been forced to close Kids Company which we do with profound sadness. Our children, staff, and volunteers supported by trustees and extraordinarily generous donors, have over the last 19 years helped create an inspirational community committed to recovery and love. The catastrophic abandonment of children who are suffering is a testimony to our collective moral failing. I hope one day the childhood maltreatment wound, that is so deeply hurting this country, will heal.”
A petition to wind up Kids Company has now been issued and the charity will go into compulsory liquidation following a court hearing. The charity’s staff have been told not to report to work or contact clients.
Statutory services overwhelmed
In respect of the children and young people supported by the charity, its statement read: “We understand how difficult the loss of services and supportive relationships will be to our children, young people and families. We deeply regret that we are unable to continue and have tried to do everything in our power to maintain the organisation’s services. Statutory services are overwhelmed at present in the areas we work within. However we have no alternative other than to signpost clients to other charitable organisations and local authority services in their areas.”
In response to news of the closure, David Simmonds, of the Local Government Association, said: “When a charity such as Kids Company closes, and it has been providing services commissioned by a council, we will ensure that any vulnerable users are identified and supported appropriately.”