UK

Angry And Emotional Protests Outside Downing Street Over Kids Company Closure

07/08/2015 14:47 BST | Updated 07/08/2015 16:59 BST

A few hundred people affected by the closure of Kids Company have protested outside Downing Street, with families and workers telling the Huffington Post UK how many will struggle to cope without the charity.

A march from Westminster station and down Whitehall stopped opposite the gates to No 10 as David Cameron said he was "sad" the charity had "come to an end".

Kids Company closed on Wednesday after ministers said they wanted to recover a £3 million grant amid claims of financial mismanagement.

kids company

The charity's founder and boss, Camila Batmanghelidjh, has dismissed the claims.

She has also denied allegations from former employees that sexual assaults of children using its services were mishandled.

A former worker at the charity told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that staff were aware of allegations involving a client who sexually abused girls he met through the charity and that these concerns were not passed on.

On the same day, Ms Batmanghelidjh told Victoria Derbyshire that the government was suppressing her because: "I know about sexual abuse claims against senior people."

Asked to substantiate that claim on Friday, Ms Batmanghelidjh told LBC radio host Iain Dale there was no need for her to give personal evidence, as the charges against current senior ministers were "already unfolding".

Ms Batmanghelidjh joined supporters when they gathered opposite Downing Street on Friday.

kids company

Signs from protestors read: "You don't do this to Kids Company. Leave Kids Company alone for God sake, pls!!! Save Kinds Company!"

Multiple banners read: "See the child."

Another read: "Kids Company, Kids Company. You['re] the best. You save the children. Everything you do is helpful."

kids company

One supporter of the protest, Olawatosin Jenmi, whose daughter has been helped by the charity, said: "Camilla is amazing. The workers are amazing. If there are any allegations, why now? They have been going for 19 years.

"Why are they doing this to us? My heart breaks. I have been crying and crying. With Kids Company you are assured you are safe. It is our children's second home."

Olawakemi Afolabi, who has two children has been in hospital suffering from anxiety, said Kids Company was a "family"

She said: "Kids Company is helping me and my children. We rely on the vouchers they give to us to feed ourselves.

"They have helped me after I came out of hospital. They made life easy for me. Now I don't know where we are heading to. I don;t think I have any hope again.

"They arranged for a catering service for me. They taught me many things - like cycling - and they've taken the children to sewing class and bike riding.

"I went them to re-open, to get a second chance. There's no other charity like this. I ams seriously worried - yesterday I was shedding tears. I don't know what's next."

kids company

Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh (centre) is surrounded by media, staff and supporters of the charity as they march to Downing Street in London to protest against its closure.

Alison Butler, a Kids Company worker, said the charity was picking up children "falling through the gaps", missed by schools and social services.

She said: "This is going to be devastating for tens of thousands of families. Kids Company offers human relationships - there's talk of other agencies picking up where we left off, but it's just not going to work.

"It's taken us a year to form a relationship of trust with families from the local school, with people who are repeatedly let down.

"The allegations don't match with my experience. We have some of the best child safeguarding procedures. There's no way anything like that would happen.

"There has been a massive smear campaign. Camilla runs the charity and campaigns for change with a government like this one, you're going to get in trouble."

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