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BBC Children in Need awards £1 million to a charity defining the future of mental health services

A group of staff from The Children's Society accepting a million pound cheque from BBC Children in Need

[May 13th] – To mark mental health awareness week, BBC Children in Need, the Health Foundation and Impact on Urban Health have presented £1 million to The Children’s Society as the winners of the A Million & Me Award. To amplify the impact of the award, every pound donated by BBC Children in Need has been matched by The Children’s Society, taking the final programme to a grand total of £2 million.

The Children’s Society, alongside their partners MACS Supporting Children & Young People and Children 1st, will provide targeted and early intervention mental health support to young people all across the four nations. Focusing their support particularly on young people from marginalised communities, The Children’s Society will use BBC Children in Need funding to magnify their impact by offering their services to children as young as eight.

Launched in October 2023, BBC Children in Need began a nationwide search for the A Million & Me award-holder, looking to spot innovators developing creative, scalable and tangible mental health solutions. As the charity’s largest ever open call for a single grant, proposals were evaluated on their potential to contribute evidence towards the effectiveness of early intervention. The Children’s Society shared a clear picture of how they would add to this learning and demonstrated their commitment to supporting children in an individualistic way.

Chaired by Jonathan Munro, Deputy Director of BBC News, the A Million & Me judging panel consisted of Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact and Influence at BBC Children in Need, Jennifer Dixon CEO of the Health Foundation, Kamna Muralidharan, Programme Director at Impact on Urban Health, and Louis Peters and Phoebe Hanson from the HUDL youth panel who collectively deliberated between the brilliant shortlist of projects, considering impact, innovation and feasibility.

Through BBC Children in Need’s A Million & Me programme, which launched in 2019, the charity learned that moments of connection between children and the adults they trust nurtured stronger mental health and that everyday magic such as good conversations can keep mental health on track. The Children’s Society will use the A Million & Me Award to provide face-to-face support for children, as well as the tools and resources necessary for parents and carers to start wellbeing-informed conversations around difficult topics. Additionally, the award will contribute towards the development of The Children’s Society’s digital presence and expand their current offerings of online sessions, digital mindfulness tools and an instantly accessible parent line.

With the help of Pudsey, Dr Alex George visited The Children’s Society to deliver the brilliant news and present the £1 million award. Dr Alex spent the afternoon meeting the people at the very heart of the organisation including CEO Mark Russell and Youth Voice Support Worker Samia Abdelrahman, to see first-hand how the award will allow the team to amplify their impact and bring about lasting change.

Following the visit, Dr Alex said: “I was so honoured to be able to meet the brilliant team at The Children’s Society and present them with this powerful award. It was an absolute pleasure to see the immense passion and determination from the team and it was so great to hear about their digital and early intervention approach to mental health. It all starts with a simple conversation. We should all continue to join The Children’s Society in inspiring this everyday magic of positive relationships by continuously talking about emotional wellbeing.”

Mark Russell, CEO of The Children’s Society said, “We are thrilled to win this fantastic £1 million award which will allow us to dramatically expand our mental health support services for children right across the UK. Far too many children are dealing with mental health challenges, often isolated and lacking the help they deserve. This funding is a game-changer that will turbo charge our efforts to reach more of those in need. This marks an exciting new chapter for us, and we can’t wait to get to work and provide children with the tools and care they need to build resilience and thrive.”

Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact and Influence at BBC Children in Need, commented, “The Children’s Society perfectly embodies our vision for A Million & Me, to seek out and find solutions to provide mental health support through inspiring early intervention and targeted support for children and young people from all backgrounds. From its inception, A Million & Me has always revolved around sustainable investment into children’s mental health and so I am excited to be working closely with The Children’s Society to continue this legacy, magnify their impact and define a brighter future for all .”

Kamna Muralidharan, Programme Director at Impact on Urban Health, says “Every child should have access to the things they need to be healthy and happy, but right now millions of families are trapped in the stress of poverty and racism. The Children’s Society understands the drivers of poor mental health – from unsafe housing to underfunded services – and how they affect some children more than others, and so we are delighted that the award is going towards delivering targeted support in these areas. We are hopeful that this award will not only have a huge impact on these children and families, but also influence the ways others in this space address children’s mental health intervention.”

Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of The Health Foundation, said, “Mental health issues are affecting growing numbers of children and young people, and we don’t entirely understand why. But we do know that stress – such as living in poverty, poor education, family insecurity and parental mental illness – is associated with lifelong mental health issues. Supporting young people early to help develop resilience will help. The Children’s Society has a long history and an impressive track record of providing this support locally and putting the child at the very centre of all their work. The Health Foundation is delighted to co-fund and support this award.”

Louis Peters, member of the HUDL Youth Panel, commented, “Given how much changes during the transition from junior to secondary school, supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people during this time will always be crucial. For this reason, it was a pleasure to be a voice for the youth and represent HUDL on the A Million & Me Award panel. I look forward to seeing The Children’s Society use the award to reduce the onset of mental health problems in young people.”

~Ends~ For more information email: [email protected]


About BBC Children in Need:

BBC Children in Need believe every child and young person deserves the opportunity to thrive and be the best they can be.

BBC Children in Need’s ambition is to create lasting, positive change across the UK for the children and young people who need it most. Together with the BBC and partners, BBC Children in Need aim to inspire the nation in support of their work.

BBC Children in Need’s 1,500 local charities and projects work tirelessly in every corner of the UK to help children & young people overcome the additional challenges they currently face, including supporting children and young people living in poverty, providing emergency support to families in crisis, providing comfort to children feeling sad, lost and alone, helping children overcome social injustice and supporting children to feel safe and secure again.


About A Million & Me

A Million & Me is BBC Children in Need’s £10m fund, dedicated to supporting children and young people with their emotional wellbeing and mental health.

A Million & Me funds projects across the UK, locally and digitally, enabling children aged 8-13 to be supported in positive relationships among their peers, parents, carers and trusted adults in their lives.


About The Children’s Society

The Children’s Society fights for the hope and happiness of young people when it’s threatened by abuse, exploitation and neglect. We see the hope and courage in young people every day, and it inspires us to support them through their most serious life challenges.


About the Health Foundation:

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.


About Impact on Urban Health

Impact on Urban Health address health inequalities by focusing on a few complex health issues that disproportionately impact people living in cities – children’s health and food, multiple long-term conditions, the health effects of air pollution, and children’s mental health.

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