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Our CEO on Save the Children’s response to Coronavirus

children washing their hands in indonesiaI very much hope you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and coping with the big changes coronavirus has brought into our lives.

I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on how Save the Children is responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Our organisation, like every organisation, business, and household in the UK, is adapting to new ways of working. But we owe it to the children we are there to serve to maintain our ambition. We were created to defend child rights, combat injustice and extend opportunity – and that is what we will continue to do.

My most immediate priority is the health and safety of our volunteers and staff. Last Friday we made the decision to ask our teams to work from home wherever possible.

As of Thursday 19 March, we are closing our shops around the UK.

This has been a tough decision. Our shops and the volunteers around the country who run them play a critical role in our operations. The passion and drive of our incredible volunteers is personified by 97 year old Audrey Gerrans, who was featured in the media last week. Audrey has no thoughts of retiring – and I know she’ll be back at the till at our Leamington Spa shop as soon as she can.

Audrey, save the children's oldest volunteer
Photo credit: Ben Compton Photography

Audrey, for me, represents what our movement is all about: awe-inspiring generosity, dedication and commitment towards the children who need and deserve our support.

Save the Children will be part of the fight against coronavirus. We have extensive experience of preparing for and responding to pandemics, including yellow fever, cholera, measles and Ebola.

Right now, thanks to your support, we have been able to take the following steps to respond to the current outbreak:

  • Wherever we work – in schools, refugee camps, or health clinics – we are doing our best to ensure the safety of children, their families, and the staff who work with them, putting in place measures to prevent infection and responding to the changing nature of the outbreak.
  • We have already sent one of our top health advisers to support our teams in Asia, and we have experts providing vital technical advice in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan. As the situation evolves, we will send our Emergency Health Unit to countries with fragile health systems to support infection prevention and control.
  • Here in the UK, school closures will hurt children’s education and place further strains on low-income families. We’re asking the Government to: protect jobs by making state aid for businesses conditional on keeping staff on; support families who can no longer work normal hours and ensure no one loses their home; and strengthen the safety net, increasing universal credit and ensuring decent sick pay for all.

Thank you so much for your compassion, kindness, and determination to fight for children’s right to be healthy, keep learning, and stay protected. They need us now more than ever – and they deserve the best we have to give.

Warmest wishes from all of us at Save the Children

Learn more:
Coronavirus: Donate now
‘The PM has done right by British business, but what about struggling families?’
Read our latest updates on Coronavirus
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