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Our CEO talks about our work in helping children to thrive in uncertain times

Here at BBC Children in Need we want every child and young person to feel like they can succeed, no matter what challenges they are facing.

Just recently I joined a group of our brilliant supporters meeting some of the young people their funding helps. These young people were supported by YSS who run a project for young carers in Worcestershire, funded by a BBC Children in Need grant. The young people talked openly and honestly about the impact of Covid-19 on their caring responsibilities and the added challenges of looking after a parent or sibling with underlying conditions. Being a young carer is without doubt tough, it inevitably takes its toll physically and emotionally. But the young people also talked about their future, their own dreams and aspirations and the vital lifeline the young carers project provided to them. The project gave them an opportunity to relax in a safe environment (albeit online during lockdown) to feel supported and vitally, the chance to focus on their futures, giving them the confidence to be the best they could be. In an incredibly moving and understated way they described how the Young Carers project not only helped them manage the day to day but also how much it had demonstrated and lived out a key factor we all need –  kindness, empathy and belief.

All children and young people deserve the chance to realise their full potential, and this success, their brilliance, has to be on their terms, defined by them.

So, the biggest and probably the most important thing we can do for the UK’s children and young people right here right now is show them how much we believe in them, because there is something incredible and wonderful about the potential of children and young people.

Unfortunately, 2020 so far has been a year of incredible uncertainty, worry and yes, hardship, for a significant number of the UK’s children and young people and none of this should be a barrier to being brilliant.

Our recent BBC Children in Need survey is a stark reminder of this.

94% of children and young people we surveyed have had cause to feel worried, sad or anxious during the last six months.

More than half of parents feel that lockdown has had a negative effect on their child’s overall happiness and wellbeing and over half of children and young people say that they have felt more lonely during the past six months than they did before lockdown, with just under half of parents surveyed feeling that their child displays more feelings of worry or anxiety than they did before.

Additionally, the research highlighted disparities between children and young people from low income backgrounds, versus those from higher-earning households.  Children and young people from lower income backgrounds were more likely to face anxiety due to concerns about having enough money for food and bills, their mental health, poor health and fitness. We know too that the current crisis has had a disproportionate impact on black and minority ethnic families, their children and young people.

These children and young people have been doubly impacted. Not only have they had to deal with the challenges they faced prior to lockdown, these have been made worse by the pandemic. Increased concerns about abuse and harm, poverty, mental health have created additional barriers to them being the best they can be. We cannot stand by and let this continue.

Here at BBC Children in Need we have done what we can to support those children and young people most at risk during the pandemic but as we approach this year’s Appeal it’s evident much more needs to be done.

If 2020 and the current crisis has taught us anything, it has reminded us of the power and absolute necessity for togetherness and solidarity. Across the UK in every community, the British public have demonstrated their propensity for kindness and unity throughout the pandemic. Here at BBC Children in Need we’re asking people to show that we all believe in the brilliance of the UK’s children and young people and that they have our full support because together, we can help them be the best they can be.

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