Extracts from the written evidence of David Quirke-Thornton, Strategic Director for Children’s and Adults’ Services, London Borough of Southwark, submitted to the Commons Public Adminstration Select Committee.
I can confirm to the Committee that Local Government in London received details of 1,699 clients from Kids Company. Additionally, I am advised by colleagues in Bristol that they received 210 client details from Kids Company, making 1,909 clients in total.
I found no evidence to support the claims by Kids Company that they were working with 36,000 children and young people of whom they said 15,933 were ‘high needs/high risk’ clients.
In 2014/15, Kids Company operated in 22 primary schools and 12 secondary schools – 31 London schools (mostly north and west London) and 3 schools in Bristol. In accounting for their work in schools, Kids Company referred to the benefit to the whole class of them working with an individual child or young person, so they counted the whole class as ‘clients’. I know of no other organisation working with children and young people in schools that accounts for their ‘clients’ in this way due to inferred benefit(s).
The high number of adults being supported by Kids Company also gives rise to concern. Kids Company was directly providing services to children and young people. Boundaries appeared to have become blurred with clients becoming volunteers becoming staff and additionally adults being supported by the charity who were not previously clients of the charity when they were children or young people. Operating models in children’s services purposefully seek to achieve a safe distance between vulnerable children and young people and adults.
I have reflected on what I found at Kids Company and it appears to me that the organisation started with good intentions but lost its way. The checks and balances of good governance, regulation, inspection, monitoring and scrutiny were missing and the organisation undertook a 19 year journey in isolation from the rest of the sector.
The ethics of practice within Kids Company appears to me to have been compromised by a cult of personality; a wilful blindness to the consequences and impact of their model on children, young people and their families; and a lack of acceptance by the leadership of the organisation of their accessorial liability.