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Helping Improve Children’s Lives in the UK

BBC Children in Need’s vision is that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential

How you help improve children’s lives

Understanding how BBC Children in Need helps improve children’s lives will help you talk to us about your project. By talking clearly about your activities and how they make differences that improve children’s lives, you help us better understand your intentions when we make a decision about your application. More importantly, once you have a grant, it will help us talk to you about the ongoing development of your project and its continued positive impact on children’s lives.

When telling us how your project will make children’s lives better, we ask you to talk about:

  • The disadvantages faced by the children and young people you support, and what effects these have on their lives.

  • What your project will do and how its activities will help make a difference to children’s lives.

  • The three most important differences your project will make that will improve children’s lives. This is the aspect of your application that interests us most. If you are awarded a grant you will be asked to report back on these in detail.

  • For each of your differences, be succinct and talk about a single, significant change only. Do not provide a list of differences or changes.

  • The difference will occur in the time you are in contact with the children you support. It can be a small change or a lasting change.

  • Use the language of change in your descriptions, e.g., improving life skills, increasing self-esteem, reducing distress.

  • You only need to talk about the specific difference you will make, for example, ‘improving family relationships’, and not the building block(s) they strengthen, in this case, ‘positive relationships’.

What do the building blocks look like?

Being Physically Safe
… is when children have better access to safe spaces away from direct threat or harm, such as abuse (including online), neglect or violence. In other instances it can mean children being able to identify personal risk and take action to remove themselves from those situations, or to minimise the risk, and tell a trusted adult.


Being Physically Well
… is when children are able to be active and socially or physically mobile - even when they may be limited due to illness or disability. It also involves having a healthy diet, good awareness of nutrition, and of having support and information to make mature choices regarding behaviours that can endanger a person’s health, such as engaging in unsafe sex or substance misuse.

Being Emotionally Well
… is when children can manage their feelings and make sense of traumatic or emotional setbacks. For some, it is essential that they are able to manage mental ill health that can manifest itself in such things as self-harming, depression or suicidal thoughts. For many, emotional well-being is built on having fun, getting a break and experiencing freedom from day-to-day challenges.

Having Strong Self-Belief
… is when children have a positive sense of who they are and what they can achieve. Self-belief can be a combination of factors including self-esteem, confidence, pride in accomplishments, a sense of identity and having positive expectations for your future life.

Having Positive Relationships
… is when children have strong, positive and affirming relationships – starting with their family, carers and friends. Having trusted peers and adults in their lives also helps overcome loneliness and provide alternatives to disruptive and harmful pathways or activities. Children also benefit from having positive relationships with social and community groups relevant to them.

Having Essential Skills
… is when children have a wide range of personal and practical skills. Alongside various social, life, communication and creative skills, such as imagination and personal expression, we include children’s willingness and ability to engage with and achieve in education, training and employment.

Being Positively Empowered
… is when children and young people can direct or manage their lives, or aspects of them. They make independent decisions, display appropriate behaviour, are motivated, express themselves and engage with activities and matters that affect them.

How BBC Children in Need helps improve children’s lives

Our work has helped us identify seven important features - we call them building blocks - that we believe all children and young people need in order to be safe, happy and secure and able to reach their potential

Each building block looks and feels different for every child and is influenced by their age, ability and experience. These building blocks are:

  • Being physically safe
  • Being physically well
  • Being emotionally well
  • Having strong self-belief
  • Having positive relationships
  • Having essential skills
  • Being positively empowered

For many children in the UK, these building blocks are threatened or weakened by the disadvantages they experience, such as living in poverty, being disabled or experiencing abuse, trauma or loss.

The projects we fund make differences in children’s lives that help prevent or overcome the effects of the disadvantages they face and, in turn, strengthen their building blocks.

Projects achieve these differences by either working directly with children or seeking to improve their social and physical environments.