With this weeks announced closure of 'Kids Company', I'm left wondering what can be put in place to help prevent harm to vulnerable young people when services they rely upon heavily have to close with little notice. Regardless of the claims of mismanagement and other concerns that are now coming to light; the charity undeniably helped tens of thousands of young people in its 19 years. Young people who are now left without a service after little time to prepare or find an alternative.
As a RAG Officer for the University of York Student's Union from 2013 to 2014, I am familiar to a point with the accountability required in modern day charitable work. The events we organisaed needed to be profitable and were planned with fine detail into their costs and expenditures. Gone were the days of sinking money into fun events that were unlikely to find a return. Of course, it was never an exact science and there was a steep learning curve to learn from any failures and make the next event better. Of course we weren't alone and had a great amount of support and guidance from full time staff members and the backing of the Student's Union.
The level of accountability organisations should have is hotly debated within the third sector, how much transparency is adequate and how much would be at a detriment to the organisations runnings is uncertain. Charity leaders lobbied against some of the requirements made upon them back in 2012 arguing it was too much. Maybe more accountability could prevent failings and help ensure any mismanagement or issues are picked up sooner and potentially rectified leading to organisations being able to remain open. Perhaps there needs to be even more transparency about the inner workings of these organisations.
Are grant providers, trusts and the government doing enough to ensure their money is going to be spent appropriately, I'm not sure. Accountability and transparency needs to be back on the agenda for the third sector and organisations should be able to demonstrate appropriate usage of funds... perhaps enabling problems to be spotted early.
In the case of 'Kid's Company', the vulnerable young people who use the services have been the real ones to lose out in the closure of the organisation and that's unacceptable, raising its importance alongside and perhaps above the politics of how the organisation was being managed. It's so important we remember all the good the charity did as well as finding out what went wrong.
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