Small child holding a sandwich

Coronavirus funding update

The Big Night In, the first ever Comic Relief & Children In Need joint appeal was held on 23rd April 2020. It raised a huge £74,026,927 including match-funding from The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The total was split between the two charities, with £30.5 million being distributed by Comic Relief.

Since The Big Night In, supported by the funds raised, Comic Relief have made commitments of over £22.1 million to 229 organisations including those supporting the elderly and most isolated; services helping women facing rising levels of domestic abuse; and support for diverse communities who are experiencing racial inequality and disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

A number of these are large organisations with a national reach who can flow funds and much needed support to community organisations working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, helping people most in need.

These organisations include Age UK, British Red Cross, MIND, Crisis, Homeless Link, Women’s Aid Federations, Refugee Action & Migration Exchange, Rosa Women’s Fund and Buttle UK.

Additionally, The Big Night In has helped in the following ways…

Recovery and Emergency Support

Supported by the DCMS match-funding of The Big Night In, we were pleased to offer over £6.5m of additional funding across 201 of our existing funded partners, to help their own emergency support activities and also to support themselves through the significant challenges presented to their work by COVID-19

Global Majority Fund – Round 1

Over £3m was awarded to intermediary funders led by diverse communities experiencing racial inequality, using funding from the National Emergencies Trust (£2.75m) and funded in part by The Big Night In. In light of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on these communities, these organisations are directing funds specifically to relevant projects in the UK.

Metro Charity

Data has shown that LGBTQ+ people may be less likely to access healthcare during the COVID-19 lockdown, are more likely to be homeless or insecurely housed, or experience mental health problems and social isolation. They may also be forced to isolate with LGBTQ+ phobic families and unable to access appropriate social support. £650,000 of Big Night In funds were awarded to Metro Charity to deliver important funding reaching local LGBTQ+ groups across the UK.

Change Makers

Looking further ahead to 2021, we will be awarding further Big Night In funds through the Change Makers programme, which aims to support organisations across the UK that will make a significant contribution to their sector to achieve real and sustainable change in the wake of COVID-19. Programmes will align with our social change themes of homelessness, forced migration, gender justice, mental health, and early childhood development, forging new ways of working as we start to recover and rebuild from the impact of the pandemic.

How we're helping

The money raised through The Big Night In was split between Comic Relief and BBC Children in Need and will go on to support a variety of charities and projects in the UK  so they can continue to provide frontline, essential support to people who need it through this crisis. 

Our support is urgently needed across key areas:

Warehouse worker with crate of food.

Critical food and other basic essentials 

There is an increasing demand for getting essential items to people so their basic needs are met. For example, getting food and shelter to people, as well as facilities, such as cooking and laundry. This fund will support frontline charities to reach people who are in crisis and have no support.

Elderly people socialising

Tackling isolation and connecting people with services

Many vital face-to face services that support people most at risk - including children and families, older people, people at risk of domestic violence and abuse and those living in poverty or without stable housing – are facing unprecedented demand for support. Social and physical isolation is also impacting people’s mental health and physical wellbeing. This fund will help organisations across UK communities reach people most affected and ensure they feel connected and supported. 

Two people hugging on a sofa

Supporting charities to work in different ways to continue to address hidden risks

Local charities and projects are often the only witness to hidden dangers that go unnoticed behind closed doors, such as domestic abuse, child abuse or escalating mental health issues. They are a lifeline to many people in crisis, working alongside the NHS and key workers to support the most vulnerable in society. As NHS capacity is inevitably affected by the coronavirus crisis, these charities are playing a key role as part of the frontline response to covid-19 and are needed now more than ever to adapt their services to continue to reach people with vital support. 


Who we're working with

Comic Relief and BBC Children in Need are working together to make sure the money raised goes to where it’s most needed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Whilst we each have different approaches and focus; we are working together to ensure between us we reach those most at risk.

Comic Relief's approach

We are committed to making sure money reaches the communities and projects at the heart of the covid-19 response as quickly and effectively as possible. We also know in this situation it is important to provide support in the medium and long term. We will achieve this through a phased funding approach; working with partners to provide a networked emergency response across the country, as well as offering support to new charities responding to the medium and longer-term impact of the crisis through an open funding call this summer.   

As well as working with existing funded partners as they develop their Covid-19 response, we are working with some larger national partners who have thematic expertise and national reach and are working collaboratively to distribute funding to local community and grassroots groups across the UK at the forefront of this crisis:

NHS Charities Together

To support our amazing NHS staff and their families. This includes providing psychological support to frontline NHS staff to cope with the aftermath of their Covid-19 response and bereavement counselling and financial aid to families of frontline NHS staff who have tragically lost their lives as a result of this pandemic.

Rosa Women’s Fund

Women are at the sharp end of this crisis, they form the majority of health workers in the UK and the majority of single parents are women many of whom are in insecure housing situations. Funding will be distributed to local women’s organisations and specialist black minority ethnic women’s services that are receiving unprecedented demand for support.

Buttle UK

Funds will support children and young people in crisis in the UK. They support those living in poverty or dealing with issues such as domestic abuse, illness and homelessness, by providing direct financial grants through local charities, health centres and other services so they can reach the children and young people who need support the most.  

Refugee Action and Migration Exchange

Due to extreme poverty, language barriers, experience of trauma and lack of social connections, many refugees and people seeking asylum are at risk and rely heavily on frontline charity services. The disruption to these services during the coronavirus crisis has amplified the need for support.  The money will provide emergency help such as support with food, safety, accommodation and translation and communication services. 

Women’s Aid Federations in England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland

Funds raised will be used to scale and adapt the over 230 Women’s Aid member services across the UK 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.

Age UK

Funds will support the Age UK network including 130+ local Age UK organisations 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.

British Red Cross

Money raised will support the British Red Cross to help people in crisis during the coronavirus emergency. Through their hardship fund and mobilising their network of volunteers they will provide help to communities and people worst hit by the coronavirus crisis. Including families and people in poverty, the elderly who are more likely to be isolated or lonely and refugees and asylum seekers who are extremely vulnerable at this time.


Money raised will go towards the UK emergency response fund made up of partners working to support homeless people during this time. Crisis will work collaboratively ensuring local homelessness organisations receive funding to provide critical, practical and emotional support to vulnerable homeless people in our communities.


Money raised will help Mind get emergency funding out to already overstretched community mental health charities. In this crisis, they are seeing a steep rise in people seeking help through their services and it is crucial that they can keep providing essential and potentially lifesaving support and advice.


The money raised by The Big Night In will help pay for FareShare’s national operations that help people who struggle to get food because they can’t afford it, or they can’t get access to it if, for instance, they are ill or elderly and self-isolating.  FareShare works with thousands of charities and community groups, many of which are shifting their work to deliver food parcels or open food pantries for people to collect food while maintaining social distancing.

Through their network of 800 frontline members and partners across the country, Homeless Link is in a unique position to assess both the scale and nature of the challenge to tackle and support people who are homeless during this crisis. They will work closely with their counterparts in the devolved Nations to ensure support is provided to all communities across the UK.

In addition we’re working closely with our cross-thematic intermediary partners who are working in the 4 nations across the UK, reaching small grassroots organisations doing essential work to support people most in need. They are Groundwork UK (England), Corra Foundation (Scotland), Wales Council for Voluntary Action (Wales) and Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland).

Thank you

Your generous donations really do make such a difference to support local charities and projects in the UK, so they can continue to provide vital emergency support.