Our history

Mostar pic
The effects of war in Mostar. Credit: Thom Hoffman

War Child was founded in 1993 by film-makers David Wilson and Bill Leeson. On assignment in the former-Yugoslavia during the Bosnian war they were horrified by the violence and ethnic cleansing they witnessed. And especially its impact on children.

When they got home to the UK they were equally shocked to see the apathy and inaction of political leaders regarding the massacres on their European doorstep.

So War Child was born. Instead of relying on politicians, we looked to music, and high-profile pop stars, to help publicise the plight of children caught up in war.

Our first War Child aid convoy delivered desperately-needed supplies to the besieged people of Mostar in Bosnia. And we set up a mobile bakery that produced tens of thousands of loaves of bread per day.

The HELP Album

In 1995 we persuaded the cream of the British music industry – including Paul McCartney, Oasis, Blur and Radiohead – to record the ‘Help’ album.

Recorded in just three days, the album shot straight to the top of the charts raising £1.25 million in the process.

This money helped us build the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar – a unique project that used music therapy to treat traumatised children from all sides of the conflict.

Our relationship with the music industry has continued ever since, producing more albums, festivals and other events – including our famous BRITs week gigs.

War Child Help 1995 album noel gallgher paul weller macca
Noel Gallagher, Paul McCartney and Paul Weller at the recording of the HELP album, Abbey Road 1995. Credit: Brian Rasic/Rex Features

Growing War Child

War Child’s projects have expanded to reach conflict zones across the world, wherever children are caught up in wars – whether they’ve lost their homes, families, schools, or been forced to take part in atrocities.

Our work has evolved from temporary food aid to ongoing, sustainable projects that improve the long-term outcomes for the most vulnerable and marginalised children in conflict areas.

We’re still the only charity dedicated to protecting and speaking up for children affected by war.

With more than 20 years experience, we’re acknowledged as experts at what we do, and a leading voice in the sector.

War Child Syria response staff with children activity
Syrian children taking part in a War Child Project in Jordan, 2015

Discover more

Child Protection War

Child protection

We aim to protect children from harm as well as help them to overcome the impacts that armed conflict has had on them. 

Iraq girls in school

Education in emergencies

Keeping children in education during wars and other emergencies is a life-saving priority for children and their families. That's why we see protecting children’s right to education as a central part of our response to a crisis.

Three ways to help