Tony Garnett • Blog Posts

Kids Company

So Camila and Yentob aren’t going to jail. Fancy that. If it wasn’t such a tragedy for slum kids, it would be a farce.

Kids’ Company worked for years – for kids. Simple as that. Kids were leading lives straight from a Victorian slum. And Camila came along and gave them love and helped them to love life and some of them even, against all the odds, got educated and joined the rest of us privileged people.

And what did the establishment do? They trashed Camila and Yentob and destroyed the Kids’ Company.

Why? I don’t know. What was wrong with the Kids’Company? Are there skeletons still in the cupboard? I don’t know. But the Met seems to think that nothing illegal happened.

Certainly Kids’ Company was not conventional in its daily practice. I mean that as a compliment. It had an open door. It applied unconventional methods, always kid centred. There was no bureaucracy. A hands on tough love approach.

But the kids knew that Camila was on their side, that she saw the world from their perspective, that she felt their impossible situations and their unformulated desires for a good life. She wasn’t intimidating.

One knows that Children’s Services have been beaten up cruelly under the Osbourne cuts. Local authorities are putting pressure on their managements. We also know that many Services were not fit to be caring for vulnerable children anyway – they were form filling and covering their asses, justifiably terrified of the gutter press.

Camila comes along and accepts anyone who appears. No audition. In pain? In need? Come in and we’ll help.

She shamed the authorities with her unconventional methods.

No wonder, in the end, she had to be sacrificed.

She is an eccentric, flamboyant, show off, a hustler who could, and did, charm the hardest City and Westminster heart. Her Kids’ Company, by its very existence, was showing up in Technicolor the drab neglect of the orthodox world.

But in the end, she cared about these kids.

Did those who trashed her and Alan Yentob’s reputation care about these kids  – or just their own reputations?

Possibly. B

Because everything she did, showed them up.