Less than a month away and the tell-tale signs have begun to spring up. Decorations in the shops, staff in weird costumes and not knowing whether we’re allowed to be excited yet. No, I don’t mean Halloween, I am of course, referring the far more important date in the Autumn calendar: Children in Need. For decades, the UK has united to prioritise the needs of vulnerable children (and make fools of ourselves) through large scale fundraising. We recognise that no matter what trials and tribulations we are facing in our individual lives, there are children out there suffering, and that we can do something about it. It also gives us a great excuse to have some fun for a good cause and worship the icon that is Pudsey Bear, in all his majestic glory. So, whether you live for fancy dress, embark on a sporting endeavour or challenge your boss to a pie-eating competition; it’s time to start thinking about helping children who are in need.
Children in Need is an organisation we all know and love, but did you know the concept has been around since 1927? The BBC first held a radio appeal on Christmas Day which raised £1,143 18s 3d which was split between 4 prominent children’s charities, and which haw slowly grown into a colossal appeal that has raised well over £800 million. The mission has always been simple: to help vulnerable children in the UK abroad. The organisation is the literal personification of the safeguarding value of the social work sector, which makes it more accessible to help the valuable work that social workers do every day.
But why should we really care about this national fundraising appeal? Unless you’re a schoolchild who loves Pudsey and gets to wear pyjamas to school in November, what impact does the yearly telecast really have on our lives?
Directly, you might never have contact with Children in Need beyond buying the charity single; but it’s important to recognise who might be dependent on their services and who you help indirectly. Children in Need supports 1,835 projects throughout England and the Channel Islands who provide vital help to disadvantaged children. These may be children who are carers, have a physical or learning disability or due to their family circumstances are going through a difficult time. Disadvantaged children make up a large part of the UK, but in an age of celebrity babies having their own social media fame, it can feel like they don’t get the attention they deserve. 72% of children in care were reported to experience behavioural or emotional problems in 2008, there are 800,000 disabled children under the age of 16 and there are 1,800 new cases of cancer in children every year. Just at a glance, it seems important to help all the vulnerable children who could be going through any of these possible situations. Thankfully, these projects, supported by Children in Need, are there.
These projects can be to do with easing the day-to-day lives of disadvantaged children, like supporting Hearing Dogs for Deaf Children; or they could focus on the emotional strain these children are under and just give them a chance to be kids, with activity projects like Whizz Kids. There are hundreds of people working around the UK whose daily job is helping children and THAT is worth supporting. Children deserve the chance to play games, make friends and be silly; no matter their background, medical history or family dynamic. This is why embracing the spirit of Pudsey is so important. We have to opportunity to help homeless children have a safe place to sleep at night, provide school lunches for children in poverty and help children who have been forced to grow up too soon be kids.
So, Pudsey ears at the ready, let’s get fundraising and do our bit to help children in need. When in doubt, just think WWTWD: What Would Terry Wogan Do?