The founder of Kids Company Camila Batmanghelidjh has died on New Year's Day after celebrating her 61st birthday with family.

Famed for her colourful clothing, the outspoken campaigner for children from deprived backgrounds had the ear of politicians and celebrities in the 1990s and noughties to support her pioneering projects in South London, Bristol and Liverpool.

Dubbed 'the angel of Peckham,' the West Hampstead resident also founded Place2Be, a young people's mental health charity which continues to offer counselling and training for pupils, families and staff in UK schools.

Ham & High: Camila Batmanghelidjh has died after 'a period of illness' her family saidCamila Batmanghelidjh has died after 'a period of illness' her family said

She was made a CBE in 2013, but two years later came a spectacular fall from grace with a BBC report alleging sexual abuse, and charity trustees closing down Kids Company in the wake of financial troubles.

In the teeth of public and media vilification, she fought to clear her name from her small West Hampstead flat. Police investigated the allegations in 2016 and found no evidence of wrongdoing. The same year, a Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee report found long-term financial mismanagement at Kids Company, including luxury items, holidays and spa days being lavished on a favoured group of children dubbed 'Camila's kids'.

But following a 10-week case in 2021 the High Court failed to find Batmanghelidjh unfit to hold directorships and rejected the claim that Kids Company had been mismanaged and charitable funds squandered.

A Charity Commission report released in February 2022 criticised the trustees and former CEO, finding "mismanagement in the administration of the charity" - a judgement she had been given permission to appeal and was still battling to overturn it at the time of her death.

Born in Tehran in 1963 to Iranian doctor Fereydoon Batmanghelidjh and his Belgian wife Lucile, Camila came to the UK at the age of 12 to attend Sherbourne School but experienced the trauma of her father's arrest and disappearance for four years in Iran. She later studied drama at Warwick University and trained as a psychotherapist at The Tavistock Clinic in Belsize Park.

She worked as a psychotherapist at a project funded by Children in Need, and wrote books on vulnerable youngsters and child protection before founding Kids Company in 1996 to care for children whose lives had been disrupted by poverty, abuse, trauma and gang violence.

Before the collapse of Kids Compan0y, Batmanghelidjh had hoped to champion an overhaul of the UK's children's services. Afterwards she continued to help former clients and vulnerable families with counselling and advocacy.

Ham & High: Camila Batmanghelidjh who founded Kids Company and Place2Be has died at the age of 61.Camila Batmanghelidjh who founded Kids Company and Place2Be has died at the age of 61.

Writing on X, The Brixton Soup Kitchen said: "Very sad to announce that Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company, has passed away this morning and our hearts go out to her family at this time. She donated over 100 Christmas gifts last week to less fortunate kids."

Steve Chalke, who founded the Oasis Charitable Trust, posted: "I’ll forever be grateful for her wisdom and depth of love for children. Equally, for all she contributed to my understanding as well as to Oasis since 2015 & the untimely, unjust closure of Kids Company.

"Camila Batmanghelidjh dedicated her life to advocating for the most vulnerable children, especially those who fell through the gaps in social and NHS services. She was a force of nature. A world changer. Camila’s legacy will live on in each life touched by her kindness and love."

Sharing a statement from the family, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj paid tribute to "My beloved aunt".

He said: "She believed that vulnerable children in Britain deserved "unrelenting love." She was a source of inspiration, a fountain of wit, and a kaleidoscope of colour. I adored her."

The family statement said she had changed the lives of thousands of children and young people who would otherwise have been neglected by a failing child protection system.

It read: "She showed these children they were worthy of love and support.

"Camila's family hope that her memory will inspire others to consider how they might protect and uplift vulnerable children."