Guest blog: Celebrating 100 years of working together to make sure children don’t just survive but thrive

Guest blog: Celebrating 100 years of working together to make sure children don’t just survive but thrive

The Save the Children Fund is one of NatWest’s largest charity clients. Hear from Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children UK, on the centenary of the charity and how their mission to fight for children is as vital as it was in 1919, when they were established and NatWest first opened a bank account for the charity.

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Kevin Watkins
Chief Executive of Save the Children UK
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18 July 2019

Bank archives contain newspaper cuttings that show Save the Children was using London County Westminster & Parr's Bank (a predecessor to NatWest) in December 1919 to provide relief to famine areas such as Poland, after the First World War. The image above shows the Nottingham Journal from 23 December 1919.

100 years ago, in the aftermath of the First World War, Britain was maintaining a wartime humanitarian blockade against Austria and Germany. That blockade was killing children through starvation, disease and poverty. Enter our founders, Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton. They broke the law, raised aid, and created an organisation with a mission. Here’s how Eglantyne put it: “We must develop a powerful international organisation for child saving which would extend its ramifications to the remotest corners of the globe.”

All of us in Save the Children UK and our wider movement are custodians of that organisation – and I find it tough to think of a greater privilege or a more daunting responsibility.

A century later, we have witnessed tremendous progress in improving the lives of children. There have been extraordinary advances in child health, nutrition, education and poverty reduction. But the world in not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by governments in 2015. Those goals include ending by 2030 preventable child deaths, malnutrition and extreme poverty, and achieving universal secondary schooling.

Save the Children’s ambitions moving forward, as set out in our 2019-21 strategy, is to drive breakthroughs on child survival, learning, and protection. We also want to sharpen our focus toward the most deprived children, deepen our connection with the UK public and strengthen our use of evidence.

There are no blueprints for tackling the challenges faced by children today, and no easy answers. But provided we remember that we are a rights-based organisation, with a mission defined by founders who didn’t duck difficult choices, and in collaborating closely with our friends and partners – including Natwest, an organisation I’m delighted we’ve been linked to since we were founded! (see photo) – I’m confident that we can continue to make a difference where it counts most: in the lives of children we were created to fight for.

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