Camila Batmanghelidjh and Children from
Kids CompanyThe founder of Kids Company is moved by the father of murder victim Tom ap Rhys Pryce, attends a party at Richard and Ruthie Rogers' house and intrigues the lingerie staff at John Lewis.
In the early hours of Monday I am woken by a call saying that one of our young Kids Company people has completely lost it. He has smashed up his flat and the police can't calm him down. This is a boy who was abused by his mother and later by a foster carer. These kids can't calm down when they have a nightmare or a flashback because they have no self-soothing repertoire. I spend an hour and a half trying to stabilise him, eventually go back to bed and wake up in the morning with fat bags under my eyes.
It only takes me a few minutes to get dressed. I love wearing yards of bright textiles. My latest thing is to make fingerless gloves out of tights. I went into John Lewis and bought a pair of tights and cut them up in front of the sales person. She couldn't believe it. I've dressed like this since I was a child. I'm a mixture: I'm wise but I completely undo myself with my childishness.
I start the week by giving a talk to the Howard League for Penal Reform. I explain how some inner-city children are exposed to the same level of trauma as a war veteran.
In the afternoon I go to the BBC where I'm making a radio series for the World Service on childhood. In the middle of all this - and this typifies my life - I'm making calls trying to get psychiatric intervention for a young girl who has been raped by her father. I must be the most frustrating person to work with in the BBC. I get home late. When it comes to relationships my vocation comes first. That's why I didn't have children. My heart is actually with these children. I don't regret it, I don't feel depleted, I'm just made that way. I'm just here to shift the ground a bit.
On Tuesday, at Kids Company, staff are really worried because we're going to get around 800 children at Christmas and we just don't know if we have the resources. December is a horrible month for our children because the media is full of portrayals of happy family Christmases. It's very important that we're open on Christmas Day. We try and give each child a personalised bag of presents and do lunch.
So we've all been panicking about money, but then wonderful things happen. For example, we got a letter saying that a man who was dying had asked his family not to send flowers to his funeral, but to give donations to Kids Company. The money has been arriving from his relatives... it makes me cry.
Libby Purves did the same thing when her son died. She's breathtaking - and currently mentoring one of our kids. Cherie Blair has been amazing, as has the Prince of Wales.
Later, the Today programme invite me on tomorrow's show. There's a new study by Glamorgan University, arguing that 'street culture' is a key motivating factor in muggings rather than money. I do get called a lot by the media because there aren't very many people who can stick up for these children in what I call 'a sound-bite moment'. You have to do it in a split second.
In the evening I go to the South London Press heroes awards. I'm one of the judges, alongside Doreen Lawrence. Every year I fight back the tears, it's so moving.
On the way to the Today studio on Wednesday morning, I hear the interview with the father of Tom aps Rhys Pryce. The man's dignity takes my breath away. To have lost your son and to be curious about why these children [Tom's killers, Donnel Carty and Delano Brown] ended up being different from his child, is emotional generosity beyond belief. So already I feel hopeful that this debate won't just be about 'monstrous children'.
When it comes to my interview, I try to convey the chemistry of terror that many kids are caught in. And then when they're strong enough to make a shift from a victim to a perpetrator, they feel high. And it is that craving for excitement that motivates a lot of street crime.
I'm struck by how much room John Humphrys gives me to explain. After all, he has a child himself. Yes, he challenges me when I say kids like Delano and Carty are 'thermostatically impaired'. He's right to wonder because it's not a label that's in current vocabulary, but it perfectly describes these kids.
On Thursday I visit my endocrinologist to give blood. I've always been big because I have an endocrine disorder, but I've always felt at ease with my body. At the surgery, everyone has a good laugh about my outfits. I tell them I met my niece and nephew at a very posh hotel recently and they cut the antique tassels off the bottom of the sofa because they thought I would like them to wear.
Later I go on to a cocktail party for Kids Company's 10th anniversary at Richard and Ruthie Rogers' house. There are bankers and philanthropists and well-known actors. I look round the room and marvel. When I first arrived in England as a refugee I knew nobody.
I've brought some of the children with me. One little boy who came to us last Christmas used to box everybody; now a year later I'm able to take him to a cocktail party. He's still a bit nervous; I watch him dangling pieces of ham. But he takes it all in his stride.
On Friday I'm still trying to get psychiatric intervention for the girl. In the evening I give a speech at a college. It's very important for young people to understand what's happening, because they are often victims of violence.
On Saturday I work from home, dictating letters - I'm dyslexic so I can't use a computer or anything. The kids programme the latest music into my mobile. There's a very rude song that makes me laugh. Humour is very important because we are dealing with such raw tragedies.
The most touching thing is the people who stop me in the street - cab drivers, bus drivers - to talk about the sheer number of people they know who've had rotten childhoods. I think they see me as someone who is putting secrets on the table.
The Batmanghelidjh CV
The life Aged 42, half Iranian and half Belgian. Born in Tehran into a wealthy family, she came to England aged 12. She gained a first class degree in fine and performing arts.
The work She trained as a psychotherapist and set up the childrens' charity Kids Company in London in 1996. Her book Shattered Lives: Children Living With Dignity and Courage, was published this year. She is widely credited with inspiring David Cameron's 'hug a hoodie' speech.
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