We’re an optimistic bunch at Save the Children. Every day, we see the impact of rising global prosperity, donations from the British public, and UK Aid – all of which is coming together to save and transform lives in some of the toughest corners of the globe.
While the world often feels like a terrifying place, for the most part, things are getting better. But I’ll admit: it was hard to end 2017 feeling optimistic.
Whether it was: Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar; besieged and bombarded children inside Syria and Yemen; or the recruitment of children in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, we witnessed countless barbaric attacks on the very people the world should be working hardest to protect.
Things got so bad, Unicef closed the year warning that “widespread and blatant” disregard for children in conflict is fast becoming the “new normal”.
But in spite of this, my optimism persists – for one simple reason: the British public.
In 2017, the British public responded to this suffering with astounding generosity. Over 12 million donations were made to the Disasters Emergency Committee raising £100 million for people affected by conflict and disaster. Red Nose Day raised over £73 million – the best night in its history.
And 1 in 3 Brits have already pledged to help make the world a better place in 2018 – with many promising to donate more to charity or sign a petition.
It is this collective compassion that makes me confident things will get better in 2018.
But that doesn’t mean it is going to be easy.
Conflict is grim and complex – and it certainly isn’t going anywhere.
Donations from the British public are helping charities like Save the Children provide immediate relief, but to really make a difference, we need long-term reform – and we need to end the culture of impunity that is fuelling these attacks on children.
The UK is already leading the way on this front.
A combination of British soft power and UK Aid are helping solve the world’s intractable problems. Over Christmas, the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt made a very welcome commitment to increase UK Aid for humanitarian crises in 2018, and to drive reform of the global humanitarian system. Writing in the Times, she made it clear that we will not turn our back on the world’s most desperate children.
Unfortunately, the festive period was again characterised by attempts to undermine the extraordinary impact of UK Aid.
The evidence is clear: UK Aid is not only saving lives, it is the most transparent and well-spent aid in the world. The collective efforts of British taxpayers, and individual acts of kindness across the United Kingdom, are combining to make the world a better place.