The new school year is here. As young people head back to school there are many in the UK facing hardship and challenges, from food poverty to mental health issues.
This is why the support, and often lifesaving, services UK children's charities provide is so vital.
From providing care when a child is ill in hospital, to mental health workshops in schools to programs that ensure children always have a nutritious breakfast, there are nonprofits that are essential to the health and wellbeing of children throughout the UK.
These nonprofits provide opportunities and support for young people by protecting them, giving them a voice, and helping them to work towards a more positive future.
Read on to learn about eight amazing UK children’s charities that help kids and young people.
When I was 19 I got diagnosed with anxiety and depression and it became a circle. I found YoungMinds and it made me feel I wasn’t alone in the struggle. I could use my experiences to help others and fight for change." - Young Minds Activist
YoungMinds has been fighting for the mental health of children for 25 years by:
- Offering advice and support to young people
- Giving help to parents and carers
- Assisting in schools
- Campaigning for change.
One of the charity’s fantastic achievements is the empowering activist programme. It gives young people the tools to help others and campaign for better youth mental health support. 97% of the programme’s activists said it gave them better knowledge of mental health.
YoungMinds also has a crisis messaging service, which has helped thousands of texters and actively rescued several hundred of them. Additionally, a recent government campaign reached millions of people and achieved 70,000 signatures!
The hard work put in by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Children’s Charity provides the necessary support children need at the hospital, beyond what the NHS is able to give. It funds four key areas:
- Support services to boost children’s spirits and ease the burden for families
- Research into children’s health, treatments and future cures
- Life-saving medical equipment
- Rebuilding and refurbishing facilities.
Through generous donations from the public and businesses of all sizes, GOSH is able to fund the production of specialist cells to use in therapy treatments, pay for performers and artists to distract patients, and fund spiritual care. Additionally, it has added more beds and modern facilities to the hospital, such as operating theatres and MRI scanning equipment.
GOSH’s work really has saved lives – for instance, pioneering research helped a baby girl who was born in the hospital without an immune
Doctors tell us that having a wish for their patients to look forward to, helps them to do their job. Volunteers, fundraisers, and staff tell us that seeing the joy on a child’s face when their wish is granted, and knowing you’ve made a difference, is absolutely priceless. " Make A Wish
Make A Wish
The Make A Wish foundation grants life-changing wishes to seriously ill children. It’s driven by the belief that a wish lets children forget about their illnesses, enjoy time with their families and create happy memories.
The charity funds personalised, unforgettable and exciting experiences, such as meeting celebrity heroes, having bedrooms redesigned, feeding tigers or starring in movies. The impact that wishes have on a child’s wellbeing is priceless – it helps distract them and gives them opportunities to revel in joy, wonder and hope.
The benefits aren’t just for children. Wishes give families the courage to face difficult challenges. Doctors say that when a patient is looking forward to having a wish granted, it helps them to do their job. In addition, it inspires staff, volunteers and fundraisers, when they see the happiness of a child enjoying their wish.
The charity tackling morning hunger in children is the wonderful Magic Breakfast. It supports a network of over 1,000 schools by providing more than 167,000 vulnerable children with nutritious breakfasts each morning.
For 20 years, the charity has been working with schools in disadvantaged areas, where these breakfasts ensure children feel nourished and ready to learn. This leads to better educational outcomes for children across the UK.
Magic Breakfast has been working even harder during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide the growing number of disadvantaged children with food. It also campaigns to end hunger in the classroom with a permanent school breakfast programme, as well as helping children at risk of hunger during school holidays.
Donations are crucial to Magic Breakfast, and they make a huge difference. Just 34p can supply a child with a healthy breakfast and wrap-around support.
The school mental health charity, Place2Be, works to ensure no child has to go through any mental health problems on their own. It supports young people through a range of services and also provides mental health training for school staff.
The charity gives teachers tools to recognise issues and direct children to the right support. It runs Place2Talk, where students can speak privately with trained counsellors about their worries. Other support sessions include:
- Creative work and play
- Group meetings that explore friendship and bullying
- Parent counselling to help families facing difficult challenges.
Thanks to the work of Place2Be, schools are becoming safer and more inclusive spaces. In one survey, 80% of students who needed a high level of support showed an improvement in their wellbeing after counselling, according to parents. And according to teachers, 68% now cause fewer problems that impact the classroom.
Acorns Children’s Hospice
Children with life-threatening conditions can go to Acorns Children’s Hospice for specialist palliative care. It provides each child with tailored nursing and support, a happy environment and fun, therapeutic activities. This gives families some much-needed time off from full-time caring duties.
Acorns runs three hospices in Birmingham, Worcester and Walsall. Each is a home away from home, where children make friends, relax in comfortable spaces, have quiet times and join in with arts and crafts sessions. Staff make every day a special one by using donations for:
- Visiting magicians, petting zoos and theatre performers
- Flatscreen TVs, PlayStations and Xboxes
- Themed weekends such as pirate or pamper parties
- Creative music and dance workshops
- Hydrotherapy pools and spas
- Multisensory room with projections, textures and sounds.
Over the past year, Acorns has cared for more than 820 children and supported over 1,070 families. The charity gives help to the whole family, from siblings to grandparents.
The number of children in poverty is set to reach five million this year. This means young people around you are going to school hungry, getting bullied for wearing an old uniform, or missing out on activities with friends.” - The Children's Society
The Children’s Society
The Children’s Society fights for the wellbeing of children who are facing abuse, exploitation or neglect. This is through counselling, supporting and campaigning for young people for as long as it’s needed.
Some of the charity’s achievements include:
- Giving 530,000 people time off from interest fees and repayments so they can overcome their debts
- Helping 15,000 alone migrant children with free legal advice
- Providing 11,500 children in the last year with tailored and specialist support
- Campaigning for the rights of 4.4 million young people, including a lift in the benefits freeze.
The charity lobbies both local and national governments on issues that affect children. Day to day, they are there for young people by feeding them, giving them therapy, finding them safe homes, and being a friendly face to talk to.
The effects of bullying can stay with children well into their adult lives. Kidscape works hard to counteract this through support, training and advice for children and their families. They challenge bullying and protect young people.
Some of the charity’s work includes providing impartial and friendly advice to anyone concerned about a child, and workshops in schools and communities that build awareness and resilience. Just in the past year, Kidscape has:
- Helped over 4,000 children
- Trained more than 2,000 professionals in areas such as safeguarding and bullying awareness
- Run a programme for adults who work with kids, where 100% of participants felt equipped with strategies to handle bullying.
Anti-Bullying Week takes place this year from 15th to 19th November, where Kidscape will be working with schools to promote kindness and celebrate bullying prevention work.
Take a moment to use the fantastic Work for Good 'Choose A Charity' section where you will find even more incredible UK-based charities involved with children and young people, from educational charities to nonprofits providing holidays for young people in need. Simply search for 'Children and Youth ' in the SECTOR section to find a charity that's close to your heart and pledge your support today.