11 year old Yusef is an inspiration to us here at Save the Children. He’s raised over £2,000 and has dedicated every birthday since he was 8 to helping less fortunate children through our work. We couldn’t think of anyone better, as we mark our centenary, to interview our CEO Kevin Watkins about the past, present and future of our organisation.
Yusef: What makes you proud to work here?
Kevin: There aren’t many organisations where everybody comes to work thinking ‘What can we do to help children, today?’ People here have such energy and creativity.
How do you feel about the organisation being 100 years old?
It’s amazing to think that we were founded at a time when there weren’t many cars on the road. No iPads or mobile phones. And our founder, Eglantyne Jebb, was a woman when women had only just got the vote. It’s a great achievement that her organisation now has 100 offices worldwide.
What would you like Save the Children to achieve in the next few years?
I want us to be more engaged with children. Whether it’s here or abroad, they have a much better understanding of what’s going on for children than we do. They’re living it. We want governments to do more to protect children from pneumonia, too. We want children in schools to get the support and nutrition they need and we want to protect children in war zones.
Why are children like me important to the charity?
Most of the world’s problems could be solved if people cared more for each other. What you’re doing with your fundraising is standing up and saying “I care”. Children have the desire to help people deep inside – they don’t need 50 reasons why.
When you visit countries where there is conflict, do you feel scared?
No – we are careful with security. But I feel humbled, because a lot of my colleagues are working in places that are very dangerous every day – risking their lives for other people.
Do you do any volunteering for Save the Children or other charities?
My wife and I support two schools in Tanzania and Ethiopia. The Ethiopian one is run by an Italian former chef, who teaches the children how to make pizza!
Arsenal support Save the Children. I support Arsenal. Don’t you think you should?
The club does brilliant work with us, in places such as Jordan. But the first team you go and see is always the one you support. I watched Tottenham beat Liverpool 5-2 in 1962 and have followed them ever since. The trouble is, that’s been mainly downhill.