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For Children, Forever

A legacy of lasting change

We’ve been helping children for over 100 years – thanks to people like you.

“Save the Children is often told its aims are impossible – that there has always been child suffering and there always will be. 

“It's impossible only if we make it so. It's impossible only if we refuse to attempt it.”  

Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb

The Beginning

After the First World War war ended, Britain kept up a blockade that left children in cities like Berlin and Vienna starving. Malnutrition was common and rickets was rife. An eye-witness reported that “in the hospitals there was nothing but paper bandages."

Save the Children's founders, sisters Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton, were part of the Fight the Famine movement, spreading information about what was happening on mainland Europe.

In 1919, Jebb was arrested for distributing leaflets in Trafalgar Square that carried shocking images of children affected by famine in Europe. The headline read: ‘Our Blockade has caused this – millions of children are starving to death'. 

Jebb was tried for her protest and found guilty. But the prosecuting counsel was so impressed with her he offered to pay the £5 fine himself.

Soon, the sisters decided that campaigning alone would not be enough – direct action was needed. In May 1919, at a packed public meeting in London's Royal Albert Hall, Save the Children Fund was born.

It was the start of a remarkable story that continues to this day.

Eglantyne Jebb, co-founder of Save the Children

The Rights of the Child

Declaration of Geneva endorsed by the League of Nations in 1924.

Declaration of Geneva endorsed by the League of Nations in 1924.

Save the Children soon became the first global movement for children. 

Armed with ideas ahead of her time, Eglantyne Jebb wanted to make the rights and welfare of children something that everyone took responsibility for.

She said: "I believe we should claim certain rights for the children and labour for their universal recognition, so that everybody - not merely the small number of people who are in a position to contribute to relief funds, but everybody who in any way comes into contact with children, that is to say the vast majority of mankind - may be in a position to help forward the movement."

Jebb's 'Declaration of the Rights of the Child' was adopted by The League of Nations, a forerunner to the UN, and it inspired today's UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.



War, pandemic, floods and famine. Whenever and wherever children are at risk, we respond. As our record over the last century shows:
  • Following the Second World War we worked with refugee families and concentration camp survivors in devastated areas of France, Yugoslavia, Poland and Greece. 
  • By the 1960s Save the Children had full medical and welfare teams in 17 countries and its work extended to 26 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the West Indies.
  • In 1964 war in Korea left thousands of children destitute. We set up a healthcare clinic, feeding centre and playground in a refugee camp, and worked alongside children for 20 years. 
  • Throughout the 1970s we ran development programmes and emergency responses in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Sahel region of Africa.
  • When famine hit Ethiopia in the 1980s, we raised the alarm and distributed life-saving food supplies, feeding 7,000 malnourished children a day. 
  • During the 1990s, we continued to work with children affected by war in Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Angola and the Balkans.
  • Following the Rwandan genocide in 1994, lots of children became separated from their families. Our family tracing and reunification programme helped reunify more than 40,000 children with their families.
  • Our five-year response to the 2004 Asian tsunami was one of the largest in Save the Children's history, reaching around 1 million people.  
  • During the worst ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in 2016, we reached 4.6 million people in West Africa, including more than 2 million children, and ran a specialist treatment centre in Sierra Leone,
  • When COVID-19 hit the UK, our emergency response plan made sure 10,000 children were well-fed, safe and able to keep learning.


Working with children and for children, we create lasting change. As this snapshot of our transformative campaigns and projects over the last 100 years demonstrates.
  • Our 1933, research report, 'Unemployment and the Child: An Enquiry', showed that mass unemployment affects children's nutrition. We campaigned for children's right to adequate nutrition until the Education Act of 1944 provided school meals and milk throughout the UK.
  • By the 1960s our Freedom from Hunger projects in Korea, Morocco, Nigeria and the West Indies, which aimed to prevent the causes of famine and food shortages, were beginning to show results.
  • In 1979, we launched the Stop Polio Campaign as part of an attempt to eradicate polio worldwide.
  • In the 1980s we set up education, prevention and treatment projects to combat the prejudice and misconception around the spread of HIV and AIDS, 
  • Save the Children became an important part of the global effort to achieve the Millenium Development Goals which decreed that by 2015 child mortality should be cut by two-thirds, extreme poverty and hunger halved, and that all children would be able to go to school.  Between 1990 and 2011, the number of children dying before the age of five fell from nearly 12 million to less than 7 million.
  • In 2016 we launched our No Child Born to Die campaign, raising awareness of the number of child deaths globally and helping save millions of children’s lives through vaccinations, nutrition and newborn health work.


 Sachal at our Child Friendly Space in Dadu, Sindh after flooding in the region in 2022

Sachal at our Child Friendly Space in Dadu, Sindh after flooding in the region in 2022

Our Emergency Fund allows us to respond wherever and whenever we're needed most.

It allows us to respond within hours of a disaster, so we can reach children immediately and help them survive.

Children and their mothers play during an educational 'Building Brains' session in Van Chan District, Vietnam

Children and their mothers play during an educational 'Building Brains' session in Vietnam.

Around a third of under-5s in Vietnam don't get the nutritious food they need. As a result, they grow up stunted. 

Our nutrition programme aims to improve the diets of under-2s and women.

Epaphrodite, six, practices reading at his home in Ngororero district, Rwanda

Epaphrodite, six, practices reading at his home

In 2018, our Advancing the Right to Read programme in Rwanda supported over 270,000 children with their reading and gave over 7,500 parents and caregivers training in how to boost their child’s education.


In 2021 we launched our strategy to make lasting change for and with the children who need it most. 

As a global movement working in more than 100 countries, we have four strategic goals for children:

  • a healthy start in life
  • a safe return to school and quality learning
  • a childhood free of violence, and
  • support to cope with future shocks

What next?


The future is unwritten but you can be sure of one thing: we will never give up

With the support of people like you, we’ll continue to work with local, national and global organisations to develop and deliver fundamental change and innovative solutions, helping future generations of children get the support, knowledge and skills they need to thrive. 

You can leave a legacy of lasting change for generations of children to come – with a gift to Save the Children in your Will. 

We're here to help

If you want to talk to someone at Save the Children about leaving a gift in your Will or administering a Will, please contact us on 020 7012 6400 or email us at GiftsInWills@savethechildren.org.uk