One month on from The Big Night In and over £36 million is allocated to work helping vulnerable people affected by COVID-19

21st May 2020

One month on from The Big Night In and over £36 million is allocated to work helping vulnerable people affected by COVID-19

  • The two charities – BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief – came together for the first time for The Big Night In fundraising appeal – a special night of television on 23 April. The appeal has raised £70 million so far for projects across the UK, including £20 million for the National Emergencies Trust and £4 million for NHS charities together

  • First round of funding has been awarded to help vulnerable people of all ages through the crisis – including those affected by issues such as hunger, domestic violence and abuse, homelessness and isolation

  • Designated funding programmes have been rapidly developed to ensure money raised reaches those that need it most as soon as possible

  • Every penny donated to The Big Night In will go directly to our charitable work helping those hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis

  • All remaining funding from The Big Night In appeal will be allocated to projects in coming months as the UK continues to respond to evolving crisis

  • BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief thank public and partners for continued support and generosity

  • HM Government will continue matching pound for pound donations to The Big Night In until 23 June. You can still donate

Thursday 21st May: In just under a month, BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief have awarded £12,932,150 of funding from their joint appeal to 20 charities, projects and programmes across the UK who are providing essential help to those most in need during the COVID-19 crisis. This is in addition to £20 million allocated to the National Emergencies Trust and £4 million to NHS Charities Together.

The funding is the first round of allocations from the money raised by The Big Night In appeal, which one month ago, on Thursday 23rd April, brought BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief together for the first time for a special BBC show to raise vital funding in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the British public and partners, The Big Night In has so far raised £70 million, which includes Government match funding for every pound donated. The first £20 million funding has been awarded to the National Emergencies Trust, while a further £4 million funding has been awarded to NHS Charities Together; with the remaining £46 million split equally between BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief. All funds will help vulnerable people of all ages through the crisis in the coming weeks and months, including those affected by issues such as hunger, domestic violence and abuse, homelessness and isolation. 

The three-hour television extravaganza was broadcast on BBC One and hosted by Davina McCall, Lenny Henry, Matt Baker, Paddy McGuinness and Zoe Ball. The show celebrated the everyday heroes who are making an incredible difference in their communities throughout the crisis, and featured an incredible array of famous faces who offered some light relief and entertainment through comedy sketches and musical performances.

Projects that have been awarded funding in the first allocation include: 

  • Women’s Aid Federations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been awarded funding of £2 million from the appeal to support people experiencing domestic violence and abuse. It follows findings by domestic violence charity Refuge, who received 49% more calls to their helpline over a 21-day period in the lockdown. The funds will be used by the Women’s Aid Federations to scale and adapt their services as well as supporting their wider member organisations, so they can reach more women and children experiencing domestic abuse who are at greater risk during this time. This includes supporting vital helplines and web chats so people can safely reach out for help; services for children and young people experiencing domestic abuse; and supporting staff with personal protective equipment

  • The British Red Cross has been awarded £650,000 from the appeal to support communities and people worst hit by the coronavirus crisis. By mobilising their network of volunteers, the British Red Cross will provide help to the most vulnerable people, including, families and people in poverty, older people who are more likely to be isolated or lonely and refugees and asylum seekers who are extremely vulnerable at this time. Funds will also be used for the British Red Cross national support Line, which is available for anyone to call throughout this emergency to seek support

  • Age UK has been awarded £650,000 to support local Age UK branches to provide critical practical and emotional support to isolated older people across the UK, helping them provide deliveries of food and medicines, as well as additional befriending support for the people living in their communities. Funds will also support Age UK’s national advice helpline and telephone friendship services

  • In light of recent statistics showing BAME communities to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19, Comic Relief is directing funding specifically for BAME community projects. This includes targeted funding through Rosa Women’s Fund and Refugee Action, plus an extra £650,000 which is set to be distributed by a BAME led partner organisation (more details to be announced shortly)

  • BBC Children in Need’s crisis fund, Emergency Essentials, has been allocated an additional £2 million to help families who need immediate support. The Emergency Essentials programme provides small grants to families facing a crisis at home. The programme can provide items that meet children’s most basic needs, such as a bed to sleep in, a cooker to give them a hot meal, clothing and other items and services that are critical to children’s wellbeing

  • A grant of £82,150 to Stormbreak will fund a pilot initiative in response to COVID-19, taking Stormbreak’s established and evidence based mental health programme - currently operating in primary schools in the South West of England - onto a digital platform to be available online, UK wide, on demand. The online platform will deliver activities known as ‘stormbreaks’ designed to support specific aspects of children’s mental health, each activity will be curated in a creative way to ensure they are fun and enjoyable for both children and their carers’.

The British Red Cross will use funding from The Big Night In to support its networks of volunteers. They include volunteers like 28-year-old Ashley, who has been a British Red Cross crisis response volunteer for three years. Since the coronavirus outbreak, Ashley’s team has been supporting vulnerable people who are self-isolating.

For widowers like Penny, who has been unable to go shopping as she has a broken pelvis and has been following government isolation guidelines, the volunteers have been a lifesaver. With the help of Penny's sister Jan, both of whom are in their 70's, the British Red Cross was able to arrange for Ashley to do the shopping for her and deliver it to her doorstep.

Penny said: “I was absolutely thrilled! The Red Cross was an answer to a prayer. A genuine lifesaver. I was so pleased to get the shopping."

Ashley said: "Penny was lovely, really appreciative. I think she’d have been really stuck without us. It was a great feeling to be able to help her out. When she came out, I took the opportunity to check how she was doing. At the Red Cross we’re always trying to make sure people get the support they need, and we check in at every opportunity. The lockdown is taking its toll on everyone’s mental health and you can’t always tell what someone is going through, so it’s always important to ask."

Jan said: “The news makes everyone depressed. Lockdown isn’t much fun. But when you stop and listen, there’s a lot of kindness around. I’m so grateful to the Red Cross – thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.”

Martin Yelling, CEO at Stormbreak, commented on the funding award, saying: “We know that children and young people’s mental wellbeing is being impacted hugely by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this funding will make an enormous difference in enabling us to innovate our important work and ensure it is accessible to those who need it most.”

In addition, BBC Children in Need has developed two dedicated COVID-19 Response Programmes to support local charities and organisations across the UK who are providing essential help to children and young people in need during the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 2020 Booster Grants Programme has opened to the charity’s 3,000 local projects based in communities across the UK to enable existing grant-holders to apply for funding up to £5,000 over a six-month period. In addition, the charity is launching a COVID-19 Grants Programme, which will open to applications from 8th June 2020 and will enable local organisations supporting children and young people across the UK to apply for funding up to £80,000 over an 18-month period.  

Ruth Davison, Chief Executive of Comic Relief, said: “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who came together during this challenging time and supported The Big Night In. We are working at great speed to allocate funding to projects in urgent need of help as they support vulnerable communities across the UK. This first allocation includes projects helping the elderly and most isolated, services helping women facing rising levels of domestic abuse, and support for BAME communities who are disproportionately affected by coronavirus. I’m proud this funding will help provide vital support for thousands of people throughout the pandemic.” 

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive of BBC Children in Need, said: “Helping disadvantaged children and young people at times when they need it most is central to all that we do, and right now is clearly one of those times. It is hard to put into words how much of a positive impact the money raised through The Big Night In will make on children and young people across the UK, who are going through unimaginable difficulties at this time. To our supporters who so generously supported the appeal, we simply cannot thank you enough. The money you raised is already going on to make a difference to those that need it most, thank you.”

Donations to The Big Night In are still coming in and will include all profits from BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2020 festival merchandise, which takes place this bank holiday weekend (22nd – 24th May). This year’s festival, which will take place remotely for the first time ever (watch live here(opens in new window)), will see over 100 artists including Sam Smith, Biffy Clyro, Anne-Marie, Young T & Bugsey and Rita Ora performing live sets – allowing fans to attend the festival from the comfort of their own homes. The festival merchandise is available here(opens in new window).

Today’s announcement marks the first round of funding to be awarded using the money raised by The Big Night In. Further funding will be made in the coming months as the UK continues to respond to evolving crisis.

For more information and to show your support visit The Big Night In website here.(opens in new window) 


For more information contact:

Comic Relief Media Team in new window)

07984 510 473

BBC Children in Need Media Team in new window) 

07711 348 725 / 07711 348 725

Notes to editors

The UK Government will match fund pound for pound the generosity of the British people to The Big Night In appeal. This match funding includes a donation of £20m to the National Emergencies Trust; funds raised over £20m will also be matched pound for pound and will be split between BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief.

The Big Night In was broadcast on BBC One on 23 April and was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content and Kate Phillips, Controller BBC Entertainment Commissioning for BBC One. The commissioner for the BBC is Katie Taylor. Peter Davey and Colin Hopkins are the Executive Producers for BBC Studios Entertainment.

Further information on The Big Night In can be found at in new window)

Pictures available at in new window)

List of The Big Night In funding so far:

About BBC Children in Need

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. The charity will realise this vision by supporting, promoting and publicising work that addresses the challenges that children and young people face and work that builds their skills and resilience.

BBC Children in Need is currently supporting over 3,000 local charities and projects in communities across the UK that are helping children and young people facing a range of disadvantages such as living in poverty, being disabled or ill, or experiencing distress, neglect or trauma.

To find out more about BBC Children in Need visit:

About Comic Relief

Comic Relief raises money to support people living incredibly tough lives. Through humour and stories of hope, we’ve shown that people can make a massive difference. We fund hundreds of amazing organisations who are working on the ground to support the most vulnerable people and communities in society including many of those hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. This includes vulnerable children and young people, people who are homeless or living in extreme poverty, women and families at risk of domestic abuse and those struggling with existing or new mental health problems.  

For more info visit in new window)

About the British Red Cross:

For over 150 years, the British Red Cross has helped people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them recover and move on with their lives. 

To give help to the British Red Cross or get help for yourself, friend or family member visit in new window) 

For further images of Ashley, Penny and Jan please visit: in new window)