I had an argument with my mother this morning. I spilled my juice, being clumsy, getting up to fiddle with something random when I should have been sitting still at the table eating my breakfast. I tried to clean it up, mopping ineffectually at the puddle with a sheet of kitchen roll, carrying it – dripping sticky sploshes – over to the bin. But she noticed, and that was that.
She didn’t yell – although she sometimes does – but she reminded me that this was the third time in as many weeks, that I should concentrate on what I’m doing rather than playing, and that maybe I should try to be a little less ‘helpful.’ She has done 6 loads of washing already this week, and didn’t really need an extra chair cover to clean. I screeched a sorry and tried to think up something facetious to say.
It’s not an uncommon scenario in our house, the 8.30am school run stress unleashing itself on our frayed tempers. Mummy is up against it time-wise; I’m not averse to saying sorry, provided I can do it at huge decibels and high pitches. She takes exception to the melodrama, and contributes some extreme nagging; my brother just hides away metaphorically, busying himself until it’s over.
She’s always sorry by the time we reach school, and I’m usually calm enough to accept a kiss. I forget about it pretty much instantly; she stews all day about how she could have handled it better. And this is the point of normality: she loves me, will do anything for me, puts me first, wants me to be the best I can be. Day to day existence just blurs that normality from time to time.
Not so for the 36,000 children and young adults on the books at Kids Company. For these children – most of them self-referred, many of them as young as 5 – family stress is a constant factor of everyday life. Whether it is neglect as a result of parents unable to care for themselves, let alone a child, or direct abuse, these are vulnerable children for whom anxiety and fear is a fact of life, and a daily battle.
Kids Company – Bridging the Gap
My Mum was recently invited to Kids Company to hear for herself the shocking statistics on a large section of the UK’s most vulnerable children:
I had the privilege of meeting Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company, last week at the Charity’s headquarters. What struck me first was the array of art, colour and creative expression in every corner and nook of the building’s rooms.
When I heard some of Camila’s statistics I was horrified:
- 50% of her children have witnessed a stabbing or shooting within the last year.
- 1/5 have been shot at or stabbed themselves.
- Troubled children have a 1:3 dropout rate from therapy clinics, because appointments rely on parental support, which in many cases is not reliable.
- The internationally recognised statistic for children in this position in the UK is 1.5 million.
Every year 650,000 children are referred to child protection services, but due to budgets, only 50,000 ever get a plan, and input from social services. Kids Company helps to bridge that gap, supporting the children for whom there is literally no help.
The good news is that the work done at Kids Company really does work. Over 90% of her children go back to education or work, and hardly any become offenders in the criminal justice system. Camila attributes this to her premise that “children recover with unconditional and unrelenting love.”
Camila has even commissioned brain studies which show that while living in a permanent state of anxiety can cause chemical and physical changes to brain behaviour – resulting in difficult personalities – the reverse is also true; a child who is loved and accepted over a prolonged time period, shows changes in brain chemistry and structure that enable him/her to moderate their behaviour and function normally in society.
And Mummy learned that my habit of not looking her in the eye when we’re arguing, of fiddling with random objects, doesn’t mean I’m not concentrating. In fact, having a load of random trinkets to twiddle while we talk helps me to concentrate and keeps me in a receptive mind-frame. Who knew? Well, Kids Company did…
Over the next few months Camila plans to begin the process of asking for change in the way these young people are managed in the UK. She is enlisting the help of bloggers to share her research, and the benefits of her style at Kids Company, so that people feel like something can be done to change our society, and the direction in which it is headed.
Please, take a look at the Kids Company website, then follow our news for details of how you can help us stand up for vulnerable children, change how they are managed, and change the outcome for the next generation of our society.