Camila Batmanghelidjh (daughter of the renowned Iranian doctor Dr Batman: cure by water) is a psychotherapist and founder/director of Kids’ Company.
Born in Tehran to prosperous Iranian and Belgian parents, Batmanghelidjh went to public school and is severely dyslexic. She did her studies using a tape recorder instead of pen and paper, received a first class Honours degree in theatre and dramatic arts, then a Masters on the philosophy of counseling and psychotherapy, two years of child observation and a course in art therapy at Goldsmiths. After four years of psychotherapy training she worked with children as a nanny, and discovered her talent.
Batmanghelidjh used her mortgage repayments to set up The Place2Be, a psychotherapy and counseling service to children in schools. It is now a national project and serves in excess of 20,000 children a year.
For ten years Kids Company has survived due to the support of charitable trusts and businesses, twice Camila re-mortgaged her flat for Kids Company’s lack of funding. Camila won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2005. She has written Shattered Lives: Children Who Live with Courage and Dignity, ISBN 1-84310-434-2 and other papers. In 2006 alone she was nominated in ‘The Good List ’06’, of exceptional people and appeared at the Conservative Party Conference and was made Woman of the year.
She curated two major art exhibitions, Shrinking Childhoods at the Tate Modern in ’05 and Demons and Angels: Does it have to be this way? at Shoreditch Town Hall. Lastly as testimony to the widespread interest in her work, Camila appeared on Desert Island Discs in October, 2006 and talks here to Fari Bradley about the company, the children and the things that make the work necessary, accompanied by one of the many that Kids Company has helped.