Interview with Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company & step by step tutorial on how to make a rag doll
As a company Liberty always likes to gives back, and every year we raise money for various charities by holding many a cake sale, Mr Whippy ice creams stalls and a super hero fun run to support this worthy charities. One charity that is particularly special to us is Kids Company, which helps vulnerable children in need of support.
Last week a group of Liberty staff took part in the Colour a Child’s Life scheme which involves renovating a child and their family’s home. The monies raised through our fun raising helped to buy items like paint, furniture and carpet. Hundreds have benefited from this scheme already, which creates a greater sense of sensibility and helps towards building the children’s confidence and self esteem.
Amongst many Liberty print goodies such as bunting, bedspreads and paper chains, we made a rag doll from Lifestyle Liberty print for one of the children.
Learn how to make your own rag doll by following the step by step tutorial here, and these are the templates you will need to make it. Why not give it to someone special or sign up and volunteer at Kids Company? You too can make a difference and help change a child’s life.
Kid’s Company was founded in 1996 by Camila Batmanghelidjh, a colourful and inspirational woman with a true passion for children and young adults who knows how badly the lives of inner city children can affect them. We caught up with Camila as she tells us how even from a young age she knew that she wanted to help underprivileged children.
You have been helping vulnerable children for many years. Can you tell us a little about how you came to be involved with this, and what it means to you to support their emotional well being?
When I was a child, I was filled with so much energy I used to worry it would frazzle me from the inside out… like a sausage in a frying pan! I had to find an outlet into which I could pour my passion for learning about people and what makes them work – I convinced my mother to join a child development forum, as it published a weekly psychological magazine. I devoured it every Wednesday, curled up in bed, and knew then that I must work with children in need of help. My grandfathers blazed a trail before me – one was a paediatrician, and the other was a self-made millionaire by the time he was twenty one… I knew even then that I had to aim big, to help as many people as I could!
The charity has helped over 36,000 children, how many centres do you have altogether?
Yes, we support 36,000 children, young people and carers every year. Kids Company runs eight street-level centres in London, and we have recently opened our first base in Bristol. We work, too, with some forty-eight schools across London in special Kids Company education units where we have therapeutic and social work programmes.
Seeing the hardships that so many children go through must be hard to deal with day-to-day, how do you stay positive?
Each morning I am faced with a choice. I could either weep all day at how horrendously the children who come to my door have been treated, or I could be blown away by the unbelievable courage that they show in asking for help, and inspired by the kindness of people who do really care about creating a positive change in the lives of these young people. I feel incredibly privileged to meet so many amazing, compassionate and resilient children and young people, and their adult allies every day.
Your job must be incredibly rewarding, what would you say is the most memorable experience you have had since you set up the charity?
I love when our kids graduate from university, and I know it has taken years of dedicated work from all our team and the kids themselves to get them to that point. Many of them have been homeless on the streets, so when they walk out with First Class degrees, I must confess to my heart flipping with joy.
What can others do to help the children you support have a brighter future?
Kids Company is incredibly short of money, because 97% of the children self-refer off the streets. Because of that, no-one will pay for the health they receive. So, we’re hugely reliant on donations from the general public. If you want to help a child at Kids Company why not pair up with your friends and donate!
Are you working on new campaigns that you can share with us?
There are always so many exciting campaigns that my amazing staff are working on, but at the moment we’re all particularly inspired by the wonderful response the Evening Standard, with whom we are working in partnership, is receiving for its ‘Frontline London’ campaign, from the public and the government alike. They’re raising awareness and support for young people who have escaped from life in gangs, and are using their talents instead to build their own businesses which, in turn, will benefit the wider community and inspire their peers.
What plans do you have for the future of Kids Company?
We would like to see improvements in the way vulnerable children are looked after, and we want Government to start prioritising their needs.
If you are interested and would like to help Kids Company and get involved, you can find out the different ways you can help from mentoring to assisting in a school here.
Follow Kids Company on twitter @KidsCo_Tweets