By Susie Cunningham
My sister isn’t a parent (being an aunty has put her off for the time being) BUT she has offered maternal care to more children than just about any one else I know.
For the last 4 years she has worked as a Key Worker at Kids Company – offering guidance, support and often just a hug to the country’s most vulnerable kids. 36 hours after the exceptional charity shut, here are her memories of Kids Company:
I will remember hearing about Kids Company for the first time from my friend Charlotte. It sounded too good to be true.
I will remember seeing the children’s art work plastered on the colourful walls that homed what would become my second family, source of inspiration and place of work for the next four years.
I will remember my wonderfully surreal interview on a Sunday evening in Camila’s ‘Aladdin cave’ office.
I will remember my first mentee and the poems we wrote together.
I will remember witnessing a kid seeing the stars in the sky for the first time when we took him to the countryside for our summer residential.
I will remember all the jerk chicken and piles upon piles of rice at dinner time at Kenbury.
I’ll remember the face painted children at our fun days.
I will remember the queues to get in to our after school club and the daily blags the children pulled to get in early ahead of others.
I will remember the All Staff meetings and the Iranian spread provided.
I will remember the joy of seeing kids cooking and eating together at our daily Cooking Club.
I will remember the mouldy walls of the bedrooms I encountered on home visits.
I will remember the swollen lip of an 8 year old key kid had been beaten with a belt.
I will remember picking up a 12 year old from the police station for stealing her breakfast. She had no one else to meet her.
I will remember the bald patches of a child who had been pulling her hair out due to stress.
I will remember the pain of moving a family who had been evicted from their home but had nowhere to go. 3 months on and they are still homeless.
I will remember going to the school plays, the parents evenings, the birthdays, the doctors, the opticians and the cinema with my key kids.
I will remember the continuos and devoted support from my case manager, supervisor and work colleagues.
I remember sneaking food parcels into a child’s school bag because I knew she had nothing at home but was too ashamed to ask.
I will remember the dramas, fights, chaos, energy and laughter that happened daily on the grounds of kids company.
I will remember the gratitude and display of affection from the parents on the day we shut down.
I will remember the breakdown of my 14 year old key kid when I broke the news that kids company was closing.
I will remember the gate being locked and staff milling around outside finding it impossible to leave. Knowing it will be for the last time.