Kids Company is a charity organization providing practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children and young people.
Its services currently reach 36,000 children across London and Bristol, including the most deprived and at risk whose parents are unable to care for them due to their own practical and emotional challenges. The charity operates through a network of street level centers, alternative education centres and therapy houses and in over 40 schools in London in Bristol.
Kids Company promotes and supports emotional wellbeing. Its approach is grounded in attachment theory and the understanding of the importance of consistent, long-term ‘loving care’. Kids Company staff facilitate the healing process through the development of sustained, caring relationships, where both practical and emotional needs are met.
The Arches II
The Arches II is a multi-disciplinary children’s centre in Lambeth, South London, through which Kids Company supports up to 2000 children and young people aged between 0 and 23. The centre provides a comprehensive package of care to exceptionally vulnerable children, most of whom refer themselves or are referred by their peers. Practical and emotional needs are met on site by a team of keyworkers, social workers, youth offending workers, teachers, employment advisors, psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses, alternative health therapists, arts therapists, and a GP. The centre also offers after school sports, art, music and drama clubs, and arranges trips to out in evenings and holidays. The services provided at the centre are assessed, designed and delivered according to the individual service user.
The Urban Academy, based in south east London, is a post-16 educational and life skills academy, specifically designed to meet the needs of young people who reject or have been rejected from other educational facilities due to their complex emotional or behavioural needs. The Urban Academy provides a crucial step to help young people prepare to move on successfully into further education or employment by offering a range of courses and workshops including basic skills (literacy and numeracy), life skills and creative art-based skills. During their learning day, each young person is provided with freshly cooked food on site and alternative health therapies in order to address physiological distress.
Kids Company opened the Treehouse in September 2009, replicating the services offered at the centres in Lambeth functioning as a therapeutic educational unit and referral centre. The services are delivered through three main programmes – Education for children who are not attending main stream school, an After School Club for under 14’s and an Outreach team, working in the local community.
The Morgan Stanley Heart Yard
The Morgan Stanley Heart Yard is a therapeutic sanctuary in the heart of South London where the most vulnerable children receive intensive emotional and psychological support. As well as providing a range of therapeutic interventions, the Heart Yard’s beautifully tended garden, family kitchen and nursery playroom offer respite, peace and comfort. For many of the children who come to the Morgan Stanley Heart Yard it is the first time they have experienced a ‘normal’ home environment.
The Morgan Stanley Heart Yard allows offers positive, social activities such as cooking and eating together, children’s yoga classes (currently led by one of our children!) and a weekly club for girls aged between ten and twelve. The art room doubles as a study space, and the treatment rooms provide a secure, private place for those who need time alone.
Loughborough Park Adventure Playground: ‘Kids Venture’
Kids Company has been granted a three year lease to run the Loughborough Park Adventure Playground, known as Kids Venture, at the heart of the community in Loughborough Junction. The playground opened on 1 November 2013. The site includes an outdoor play area with large adventure play equipment such as a giant swing, climbing frames and a sandpit; a smaller walled area which has historically contained play for under 5’s; and a large indoor area with an art room, kitchens and a ‘youth space’ with snooker tables etc. The playground is now open to the local community alongside existing Kids Company clients including young mothers and their babies. In addition to this, young people aged 16–25 from Kids Company’s Urban Academy and local schools are volunteering at the centre acting as role models for the children accessing this new service. The Kids Company holistic care model will be made available to users of the site to include therapeutic, educational and practical support for children, young people and their families.
Kids Company Bristol
The Island is a replication of the Arches and 200 young people are supported from there. It is a multi-disciplinary centre in the heart of Bristol, through which Kids Company supports children and young people aged between 0 and 23. The centre provides a comprehensive package of care to exceptionally vulnerable young people, most of whom refer themselves or are referred by their peers.
The Tree Tops and South Wood provide alternative education for under-16s. The sustained care aims to help the children work through the trauma many have experienced through physical and sexual abuse. These are the children that local authorities struggle to manage, because their behaviour is so disturbed and their needs so complex.
Brentry Site is one of the three Alternative Education Provision sites. From here, two contracts of alternative education for young people who have either been permanently excluded from school, or at serious risk of exclusion. The young people, aged between 14 and 16 years, are referred by the Local Authority.
Le Coeur is our therapeutic intervention and 1:1 centre. Pupils attend by appointment with their key worker. The centre provides a caring and calming environment for some of our most vulnerable young people and supports them in raising their aspirations and reaching their full potential.
Colour a Child’s Life
The Colour a Child’s Life project, Kids Company volunteers help to transform the living conditions of children and families in some of London’s most disadvantaged communities. Staff find children living in conditions of extreme deprivation, in environments which are dirty, unsanitary and often lacking in the most basic necessities such as clean bedding, cups, plates and simple furniture. These are families living in local authority accommodation where social work departments are at breaking point and demand outweighs resources, leaving children in unacceptable conditions of poverty and neglect.
The Bare Thread clothing label was started at Kids Company’s Urban Academy in 2005 by young people who found that fashion gave them a powerful voice. The fashion label aims to create opportunities for young people to explore and showcase their talent.
Kids Company has formed partnerships with prestigious universities such as the London School of Economics, the Institute of Psychiatry, The Anna Freud Centre, Queen Mary University and University College London.
UCL found that of young people accessing Kids Company services:
• Half have seen someone being shot or stabbed in their community within the past year.
• 1 in 4 have seen a friend or relative being shot or stabbed in the past year.
• 1 in 5 reported being shot or stabbed in their lifetime.
• Are 5.2 times more likely to have experienced severe to extreme levels of emotional abuse.
• Are 15 times more likely to have experienced severe to extreme levels of emotional neglect.
• Are 4.6 times more likely to have experienced severe to extreme levels of physical abuse.
• Are 13 times more likely than control participants to have experienced severe to extreme levels of sexual abuse.
Kids Company clients tested had (compared to controls):
• 2.2 times the levels of anxiety
• 1.8 times the level of depression
• 2.2 times the level of anger
• 3.3 times the level of Post traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms
• 3.7 times the level of Dissociation
It was found that the young people attending Kids Company’s Urban Academy compared to matched controls have:
• 5 times the prevalence of having carried a weapon
• 2 times the level of history of fighting
• 5.2 times the incidence of suicidal ideation
• 39 times the prevalence of drug use disorder
Queen Mary University found that 71% of the sample aged 12 and over had a history of social services involvement, with 33% of these being child protection cases. Additionally young people accessing Kids Company services face the following difficulties: homelessness (84%), substance misuse (82%), criminal involvement (81%), emotional difficulties and mental health problems (83%) and young carers struggling to cope (39%) (Gaskell, 2008). An internal survey conducted in 2012 revealed that A survey of 85% rely on Kids Company for their main meal of the day, 64% did not always have edible food in their fridge/cupboards; 50% often go to bed hungry; 33% never eat breakfast and 10% drink alcohol daily. An internal report revealed that in 2008, of the 668 high risk young people Kids Company worked with, 97% returned to Education or Employment. 80% of the young people demonstrated improvements in their emotional wellbeing with 97% of clients reported that Kids Company had helped with their problems.
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