BBC Children in Need supports organisations that help children with all kinds of problems, such as physical, emotional and social difficulties. It has been performing this role since it started on 25 December, 1927, as a five-minute radio appeal and raised the equivalent of almost £30,000 (then, the figure was £1,140).
Children in Need first appeared on the nation's TV in Christmas 1955 and for the next two decades it remained a December appeal. It was supported by Sooty, the nation's favourite hand puppet. Children in Need's first full telethon appeal was in 1980, and this was the first time that the grand total topped the £1m mark.
About the Modern Appeal
The symbol/mascot for Children in Need is a yellow bear with a spotty eye bandage called Pudsey Bear and appears everywhere on the telethon. 2001's appeal was the 22nd annual TV appearance, and over the years it has raised almost £300 million which has been given out as grants to charities that help make children's lives just that little bit better.
When you make a donation to Children in Need, you're helping some of the children at greatest risk or with the greatest need: children who are ill and might not get better; children who feel they need to run away to escape violence, neglect or abuse; siblings who have to cope while there brother or sister is seriously ill or injured; children who have nowhere else to turn... the list goes on and on.
How Do People Get Involved in Children in Need?
All kinds of people raise money for Children in Need, in a huge number of different ways. Certain groups of people are particularly good at having fun in aid of charity. Children in Need, like Comic Relief, relies on the substantial contributions made by the BBC regional stations, who play a major part in drumming up support in there area. This is done by local presenters who have been making a huge effort for years, fund raising stunts, local concerts and events on the night, as well as pre-night events like auctions. For example in 2001 BBC Look North (the local news programme for the North East of England and Cumbria) organised the auctioning of a Dalek and sent a BBC Look North presenter with an army officer down the Tyne in a canoe. Meanwhile, BBC WM's (the BBC local radio station for Birmingham, the West Midlands and Warwickshire) Carl Chinn MBE spent a week in West Bromwich helping listeners to build a safe play area for children (largely funded by contributions made by the region's listeners). These are just some of the many events in the BBC regions across the UK.
And all these local events are bound into the national campaign involving BBC radio on the week leading up to the big event and also form part of the telethon itself. The telethon, which in recent years has been hosted by Terry Wogan and Gaby Roslin, involves celebrity performances (usually a bit off beat), celebrity fund raising stunts, a performance of a single donated by a pop group, and a look at the local events/concerts in the BBC regions.
How to Get Involved
Of course, it's not just the stars that get involved. The whole idea is that everyone can take part. Year after year, thousands call or email and request a fundraising pack.
How is Money raised?
Swimathons, car washing, dressing up, sponsored events and shows are all commonplace - the wackier the better! Along with the baking of cakes and other fundraising fun, there are ways to help out on the high street as well. There's a range of Christmas cards designed by Blue Peter viewers, with proceeds going to Children in Need, as well as Thomas Cook collecting unwanted foreign money to help the appeal. Also, in 2001 there were special disposable cameras made for the event by Fuji.
A scheme called Gift Aid also means that, by ticking a box on the donation form, the taxman will give 28p for every £1 donation to the appeal, if you are eligible for tax. Last year, the scheme boosted the total raised by £1 million!
Last year, almost £20m was raised to help children, and every penny is used to help these people, with administrative work paid for from the interest. You can donate online, and find out further donation details, at the Children in Need Website.