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A message from our CEO Simon

Together, our kindness can show every child and young person, no matter what challenges they face, that we believe in them.

Just this week, I was privileged to hear the stories of two incredible people who had benefitted from the support of projects funded by Children in Need.

These two individuals had both faced considerable challenges when they were young. Not only were they able to overcome these challenges, they have since gone on to become inspiring leaders in their communities. Both talked about that moment as young people when someone stepped up to provide help and support when they needed it most. In each case, that person did something powerful and remarkable and incredibly simple – they believed in them.

Probably for the first time in their lives, someone had said to them: I believe in you. That person was a brilliant project worker funded through BBC Children in Need, thanks to the kindness of our supporters and it’s what we do day in, day out.

Alongside kindness and empathy, belief can be a true superpower. I guess we all need it. Particularly when we are young and feel like the challenges we face in our young lives are overwhelming us and defining us, having someone stand alongside us and believe in us is vital.

I’m immensely proud that this value – the belief that children and young people can be the best they can be, whatever obstacles they may be facing, given the right support – has been core to our work since we first began in 1980. Right now, as children and young people face existential challenges it has never been more needed.

The two stories are also significant because they explore important elements of disadvantage that severely impact on the life chances of children and young people – living in care, and living with HIV. I am immensely proud of the willingness of BBC Children in Need not to shy away from issues like these because the consequences of not stepping up to support children and young people, whatever challenges they are facing, can be significant.

I’m pleased that BBC Children in Need continues to show leadership in this space and is prepared to tackle the current issues affecting children and young people today.

Recently, issues of food insecurity and poverty have been widely discussed, and we will continue to do everything we can to tackle these challenges. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, BBC Children in Need is currently funding 1,294 local charities and projects across the UK supporting children and young people affected by poverty. As part of this, we fund 170 local charities and projects to the value of £9.8m supporting children affected by food insecurity. These projects work in communities right across the UK to provide food, support and advice helping children and young people when they need it most but we can, and must, do more.

Over the last forty years, since the first BBC Children in Need telethon took place, the world has changed. Although our commitment to our core value of helping and supporting children and young people to thrive and reach their full potential has remained constant, we need to appropriately reflect those issues and challenges that put young lives at risk of disadvantage, right here right now. This is an absolutely natural and right approach for any forward thinking and contemporary charity.

Our recent survey, alongside our ongoing conversations with children and young people themselves and the project workers and community groups and charities that support them, identified a number of common themes – mental health, illness, poverty, food insecurity, inclusion and diversity, disability, bereavement and loss, access to employment and social action are all important to children and young people. These are the challenges a significant number of our young generation are facing right now.

So, it’s clear, as we look forward to this year’s Appeal and our next forty years, BBC Children in Need cannot ignore any of these challenges. To do so would put children and young people at risk, but more importantly we would miss the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to our core belief that every child and young person should be given the opportunity to be the best they can be. That means tackling the growing issue of mental health, poverty and food insecurity, helping children and young people overcome racial injustice, supporting them to better understand their sexuality and gender identity, ensuring they are not prevented from being the best they can be because of our attitude to disability and supporting them to come to terms with loss and bereavement. Because, not tackling these issues can lead to isolation, distress, anxiety, bullying and self-harm.

If the last 40 years has taught us anything at BBC Children in Need, it’s that no child or young person should feel so alone with their challenges that they have no one to turn to. What they need is our kindness, empathy, support, understanding and, above all, our belief. I’m so grateful to all of our supporters who share our belief in children and young people and who respond with such kindness and generosity to our Appeal every year. Together, we can continue to provide the help and support these children and young people so vitally need.

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