In 2020 War Child reached more children and adults than ever before.
A total of 171,992 children, young people and adults participated in projects run by War Child UK or one of our partners. This would have been a good result in a normal year but, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 70% increase in the number of people we reached is even more remarkable, and all the more important.
In February 2020 we became incredibly concerned about the spread of the new virus and the impact this would have on vulnerable children and families living in fragile communities, experiencing violence and displacement. We realigned our programmes around key priorities to address the pandemic, which included raising awareness of the virus and supporting basic hygiene and sanitation practices. We supplied our teams with protective equipment and changed our ways of working so that we could still deliver education, psychosocial support and child protection services in remote or COVID-safe ways.
Staff in our projects displayed amazing levels of commitment and courage to continue their work, and a great deal of creativity in overcoming barriers created by the pandemic.
At the same time as expanding our programmes we were facing funding problems in the UK. While we had made a good start to the year, with many headline artists participating in our Brits week shows, the subsequent cancellation of our other fundraising events left us £2.5 million short of our expected income.
Our fundraising teams worked closely with our Global Ambassadors Carey Mulligan, Marcus Mumford and Vanessa Kirby, alongside our donors, to launch an extraordinary emergency Coronavirus Crowdfunder appeal which made a big contribution to replacing our lost income. Many other donors and friends came to our aid, including The Arctic Monkeys who released a special live album of their 2018 show at the Royal Albert Hall for War Child to further support our efforts.
We spent important time in 2020 reflecting on the issues raised by Black Lives Matter, working with colleagues across and outside of War Child to learn from experiences of racism and understand the positive impact organisations can have if they decide to directly address racism in the wider world. We will build on this understanding in 2021 when we think through our operating model and how we can address imbalances of power.
The financial constraints and urgent priorities of 2020 meant that we were obliged to go slower than we had hoped on some of our longer-term strategic priorities. However, we still made good progress in improving our safeguarding systems, developing our core interventions, and innovating in our programmes, particularly in our work supporting children who have been involved in armed groups.
At the end of a challenging year, we are aware that the pandemic will continue to be a major issue for children and families in conflict countries for as long as it takes for vaccinations to reach everyone. 2021 continues to be a year of restrictions for some of the poorest and marginalised children in the world, but we are confident that we can maintain our support to them this year and hopeful that we can expand our impact further.
We are grateful to so many people for the support they gave to our work, even as they addressed the personal and financial challenges which faced everyone during 2020.
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