In May, Save the Children marked our Centenary by launching the Stop the War on Children campaign. The campaign is a response to the desperate plight of children living in conflict zones around the world.
It is also an affirmation of our roots as a rights-based campaigning organisation created 100 years ago, by two remarkable sisters – Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton. They saw the suffering of children starving in Europe after the end of the First World War and decided that enough was enough. They decided to set up an organisation – our organisation – to protect those children, their rights and their futures. One century on, our global Save the Children movement strives to achieve their vision.
I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. We have reached some of the world’s most deprived and marginalised children, working ever more closely with our global movement to ensure children survive, have the opportunity to learn and are protected from conflict.
The human faces behind the extraordinary numbers
Nakwan*, at just seven days old, was treated for pneumonia at our health centre in Northern Kenya. Meng Seang*’s parents in Cambodia participated in our First Read programme, designed to help them better support their children’s home learning environment. Nur* was separated from his parents after their village was attacked in Myanmar – he is now living with extended family and is able to play and feel protected within one of our child friendly spaces in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.
These are just three children but they represent the human face behind the extraordinary numbers. As a global movement, we reached 40.8 million children across 118 countries in 2018. Behind that statistic are the real lives, hopes and dreams of children who need our solidarity.
Take outs from the Annual Report
2018 was also a year for honest reflection. If we want to do our best for children, we must first do our best by our staff. We have not always lived up to that responsibility – and we are working hard to strengthen our organisational culture and to ensure the mistakes of the past are never repeated. Building on the findings of the Independent Review of Workplace Culture, which we published in October, we have initiated our Stronger programme, designed to develop the organisation our staff want and deserve. We will be carefully monitoring and reviewing the success of this programme over the coming months.
It is of course also disappointing that our income fell in 2018 after substantial increases in previous years. The report explains the range of factors which have contributed to this, as well as our plans for growing our income and impact over the next few years.
And we certainly have big ambitions moving forward, as set out in our 2019-21 strategy. This shows how we will drive breakthroughs on child survival, learning, and protection. It sets out our big priorities over the next three years, including sharpening our focus on the most deprived children, deepening our connection with the UK public and strengthening our use of evidence.
There are no blueprints for tackling these challenges, and no easy answers. But provided we remember that we are a rights-based organisation with a mission defined by founders who didn’t duck difficult choices, I’m confident that we can continue make a difference where it counts most – in the lives of children we were created to fight for.
It remains for me to thank each and every one of our colleagues, supporters and volunteers for the invaluable contribution they have made to the work of Save the Children UK. Our organisation is one which will always stand for, and with, children. All who stand with us, stand with them.