An inspirational social entrepreneur who has dedicated her life to helping disadvantaged children has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Edge Hill University.
Camila Batmanghelidjh, director of national children’s charity The Kids Company, received the accolade at the University’s graduation ceremony on Wednesday dedicating her award to the many children and young people known to her charity.
Camila is one of Britain’s most progressive thinkers on the psychological and emotional wellbeing of children and young people. Her south London charity The Kids Company helps over 14,000 ‘lone’ children every year – minors who have experience neglect and/or abuse because their parent is unable to function as a caring adult.
She delivered a provocative lecture entitled Betrayals or Solutions: What’s on Offer for the Vulnerable Children of Britain, where she outlined a new model for social services and child protection, which she currently believes is no longer fit for purpose.
On receiving her award, she said: “I’d like to thank Edge Hill University for this generous honour. I am deeply touched and accept this award on behalf of the amazing children I have worked with in the last 20 years.
“There are many extraordinary children surviving their childhood today who go without recognition, who suffer abuse and neglect. They will never have a graduation day like this because they have never had a competent and loving carer in their lives to help them succeed.
“As a country we are blind to the children who need our help. Britain is bottom of the league tables for the wellbeing of children and unfortunately politicians don’t understand the plight of these neglected children as they didn’t experience childhoods like they have themselves.”
Born in Tehran and educated at Sherborne School for Girls, Camila studied for her first degree at the University of Warwick, gaining a first class honours degree in theatre and dramatic arts, remarkably overcoming her severe dyslexia by using a tape recorder instead of a pen and paper to complete her studies. She read for a Master’s degree on the philosophy of counselling and psychotherapy, undertook two years of child observation at the Tavistock Clinic, in Bloomsbury, London as well as an art therapy course at Goldsmiths’ College. She trained in psychotherapy for four years and worked as a nanny, which is where she first discovered her talent for working with children.
Her first formal charity was The Place to Be, which she financed using her mortgage repayments. The charity offers counselling and psychotherapy in schools, and has since been now rolled out to over 40,000 children nationally.