We’ll all have seen that Camila from Kids Company is back on the scene with her new book. I’m going to start by saying I haven’t read it yet. But I am going to respond to the various news items and letters she has written over the past month or so. And, as a reminder, Creative Youth Network was their Landlord and we were tasked by Bristol City Council to support those young people who were left hanging after the collapse of Kidsco.

Most of all I find it such a shame that Camila spends most of her time in the ‘he said, she said’ rhetoric of conspiracy. Her interviews, letters and articles across our media are still rehearsing the old tired accusations of government, funders, the police and anyone else who got in her way. What gets lost in this diatribe is the message she doesn’t spend enough time on. That is the problems facing children’s and young peoples services across the UK.

Voluntary and local authority providers all acknowledge that vulnerable Children and Young People receive less support and have less opportunities than they did several years ago. From where Creative Youth Network sits, supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in our city, the statutory services of Youth Offending Teams, CAMHS, Social and Youth Services and others are being cut back to the bone. This leaves staff in both the Statutory and Voluntary sectors stretched to the point where we are not providing the sorts of services that prevent the misery of wasted lives and cost more in the long run. Across the UK, children’s services are struggling to cope with and fund the job of picking up the pieces of these damaged lives.

This is the real story of austerity played out in small corners of our towns and cities where young peoples lives do not reach their potential because they don’t have the right support when they need it.
Camila talks of this briefly in interviews but spends interview after interview blaming others for the organisational problems she created. As their landlord, Kids Company rarely paid their bills on time and, when Bristol City Council asked Creative Youth Network to pick up the 600 young people Kids Company were working with when they collapsed, we received very incomplete files for 152. We asked repeatedly and no more were forthcoming.

I wish Camila would accept some responsibility for what happened. Reserves are there to see you through difficult times – that’s why they are important, money needs to be managed properly and good records of the young people you work with must be kept. By managing our organisations well and accepting responsibility when we get things wrong we can get to the heart of the matter – making sure our vulnerable children and young people receive the support they need! This is a story that needs to be heard!