Camila Batmanghelidjh is the founder and director of Kids Company and has been a psychotherapist for more than twenty years. In her early twenties Camila founded her first charity: ‘‘The Place To Be’ which is now a national organisation reaching thousands of children. In her early thirties, Camila founded Kids Company in six converted railway arches in London. During the first few months, the team spent time integrating with the local young people, who tested their resilience and commitment with the challenging behaviour that had given them the label ‘hard to reach’.
For 18 years Kids Company has survived largely due to the support of charitable trusts, businesses and many wonderful individuals. It has often been a ‘hand to mouth’ existence for the organisation and Camila has kept united a staff team who accept that the future is always uncertain. On two occasions she has re-mortgaged her flat to see Kids Company through its lack of funding. To date, she and the team have raised in excess of £146 million since Kids Company began in 1996.
In April 2008 Kids Company was awarded government funding of £12.7 million over three years through the Department for Children, Schools and Families, to fund our work with the 400 most disturbed young people over the age of 14.
Camila has created a unique and pioneering approach in delivering services to vulnerable children. She has always focused the organisation’s activities on the needs of the most vulnerable client group without making compromises in order to hit current trends or government priorities.
Camila has become an advocate for vulnerable children, speaking regularly at conferences and has contributed to numerous publications. Her book, Shattered Lives: Children living with Courage and Dignity was published in May 2006. Camila is deeply grateful for many of the awards she has received but she’s too shy to list them. She considers herself very privileged to be working with what she describes as extraordinarily courageous and dignified children.