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Emma Willis to narrate Life in Lockdown: a special film for BBC Children in Need shedding light on children coping through a Pandemic

Emma Willis will narrate Life in Lockdown, a powerful, uplifting and touching film which proves how brilliantly resilient children and young people can be in the face of a global crisis. Captured during early Autumn 2020, the film will shine a light on children and young people experiencing a variety of challenges, as they cope with the effects of the pandemic. Coming to BBC One on 11 November at 7.30pm the film reveals how BBC Children in Need funded projects are providing vital support for families during this incredibly difficult time.

Coby, aged nine, and his sister Addison, age four, who has recently been diagnosed with Poretti-Boltshauser Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects her brain development, feature in the film. The film follows the Newcastle-based siblings’ affectionate relationship, as Coby supports his little sister through this tough time, helping with her sign language, as they also receive some surprising news about her condition. The siblings are supported by LD: North East, which receives BBC Children in Need funding to provide project workers such as Gillian, who helps Addison improve her communication skills and runs activity sessions for Coby and other siblings of children with complex physical or learning disabilities.

In Swansea, Leo (age 14), Lilah (age 13) and Zion (age nine), live with their grandmother Emma after their mother died five years ago. The three siblings have all been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and have other additional needs. The film captures the family’s frustration, anxiety and camaraderie as the children cope with fluctuating lockdown restrictions and sees support in the form of BBC Children in Need funded projects at Swansea Community Farm and Surfability UK (CIC), which offers the family a variety of support including help processing their emotions and access to essential breathing space in the outdoors.

Ethan, age 12, from Hertfordshire has been diagnosed with Stargardt disease, which causes progressive damage or deterioration of the retina; he was diagnosed with the condition when he just seven years old, and his eyesight continues to deteriorate with the real possibility that one day he will lose it completely. The film shares Ethan’s determination to overcome his challenges and make as many memories as possible while he still can see. Supported by a BBC Children in Need funded project at Herts Vision Loss when he was first diagnosed, has been able to work through his emotions and make the most out of what has been a difficult six months.

Also featuring in ‘Life in Lockdown’ is Beatrice, age eight, from Greater Manchester, ose little sister Rosalind died from cancer a year ago. As Beatrice and her family headed into lockdown in March, they were also dealing with the many challenges of bereavement. Rachel, a family support worker from a BBC Children in Need funded project at Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, has been hosting virtual play sessions with Beatrice to help her cope. Annette, Beatrice’s mother, explains how Rachel has been ‘a lifesaver’ for the family. The film follows Beatrice and her family as they prepare to mark the first anniversary of Rosalind’s passing, Beatrice wants to take the family up the hill where they scattered ‘Rosie dust’ where she dances and plays Rosalind’s favourite song.

Speaking of the film, narrator Emma Willis said: “The current pandemic has affected all of our lives, but some families have additional and complex needs and challenges outside of Covid-19. Being part of this documentary, I was able to see just how vital BBC Children in Need’s funds are to families across the UK in times of crisis. People are facing incredibly challenging times, but I hope the public tune in and donate if they can to a much-needed cause.”

 The film release follows research commissioned by BBC Children in Need revealing the impact of recent events on children and young people across Britain, six months after the UK went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the findings, the nationwide survey of 831 parents and 697 children and young people respectively reveals that:

  • 94% of children and young people have had cause to feel worried, sad or anxious in the last six months.
  • More than half of parents (54%) feel that lockdown has had a negative effect on their child’s overall happiness and wellbeing
  • 52% of children and young people say that they have felt more lonely during the past six months than they did before lockdown
  • Six months after lockdown, nearly half (45%) of parents feel that their child displays more feelings of worry or anxiety than they did before

Life in Lockdown was created by award winning film maker Anna Hall, Executive Producer at Candour Productions, Director Amy Richardson and Beejal Patel, BBC Commissioning Editor Factual. The film will air on BBC One during BBC Children in Need Appeal Week on 11 November at 7.30pm. Those interested in finding out more about BBC Children in Need can visit bbc.co.uk/Pudsey.

~ENDS~

For interview requests, information or images, please contact: Coco Stephens, BBC Children in Need on 0303 082 8287 / [email protected]

Additional quotes

Anna Hall, Executive Producer at Candour Productions commented: “The honesty, humour and warmth captured in the film is a tribute to the wonderful children and young people who feature and whose stories help us illustrate not only the emotions of the nation as we cope through these unprecedented times, but also show just a small group out of thousands of children who are suffering with such difficulties and who need urgent support.’

Tommy Nagra, BBC Children in Need’s Director of Content added: “Thanks to our colleagues at BBC One and Candour, and of course the brave families that feature in the film. This poignant film provides a snapshot of some of the issues children and young people are facing right now and the support BBC Children in Need provides to families impacted by the daily realities of the pandemic “

The projects featured in the film

Projects which receive funding from BBC Children in Need featured in film include:

  • LD: North East which receives £30,000 over three years to deliver fun activity sessions for siblings of children with complex physical or learning disabilities in North Tyneside to support, children and young people in developing emotional resilience, whilst also empowering them and developing their self-belief.
  • Swansea Community Farm is granted over £110,000 in funding over three years to provide farm-based activities for children and young people living in areas of deprivation. Through attending the project, they will increase their confidence, improve their life skills, and have improved health and well-being.
  • Surfability UK CIC in Swansea which receives £120,000 to deliver surfing-based activities for disabled children and young people, supporting them to be better able to express themselves, enhance their emotional well-being, and deal with individual challenges.
  • Herts Vision Loss receives £36,155 over three years to provide activity sessions and counselling sessions to visually impaired children and young people, enabling them to have fun as they build positive relationships, improve their emotional well-being and raise their aspirations.
  • Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity in Greater Manchester receives a three-year grant of £87,746 to employ a family support worker to support families effected by serious childhood illness as well as an emergency grant funding of £79,980 for the next 18 months to provide essential support for children and young people affected by serious childhood illness during the coronavirus pandemic.

About Candour Productions

Candour Productions is a female led Leeds based independent production company. We’ve been nominated for 6 BAFTAs and have won numerous awards including the RTS Journalism Award, and the prestigious Women in Film & Television Factual Award. Our out put includes ‘Stacey Dooley and the lockdown babies’ for BBC1 and the fast turnaround ‘A Day in the Life of Coronavirus Britain’ for C4 which we made in just 3 days in April as we captured Britain in early lockdown.

About BBC Children in Need

BBC Children in Need’s vision is that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential.  The charity will realise this vision by supporting, promoting and publicising work that addresses the challenges that children and young people face and work that builds their skills and resilience.

BBC Children in Need is currently supporting over 3,900 local charities and projects in communities across the UK that are helping children and young people facing a range of disadvantages such as living in poverty, being disabled or ill, or experiencing distress, neglect or trauma.

Following The Big Night In appeal in April, BBC Children in Need launched a number of dedicated Covid-19 response programmes to support local charities and projects across the UK who are providing essential help to children and young people during the current crisis. To date, the charity has awarded £19.6 million in funding to specifically help organisations in communities across the UK provide essential support to children and young people facing disadvantage during the pandemic.

Further information on BBC Children in Need can be found at bbcchildreninneed.co.uk

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