The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every one of us. For millions of children, their lives changed overnight, as schools closed and routine healthcare stopped. Some essential services designed to keep children safe and look after their emotional wellbeing also had to pause.

Children in the areas where Save the Children works - places already facing challenges like conflict, natural disasters and food shortages - were affected most by the pandemic. Four out of five children they spoke to this summer said they’ve learned little or nothing while schools were closed. And according to the Lancet, 6.7 million more children under five could suffer from severe malnutrition this year due to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. These knock-on effects could have a serious impact on children’s futures.

When the crisis hit, Save the Children kicked into action immediately. They had teams positioned all over the world ready to help, and extensive experience of responding to emergencies. They went wherever they were needed to support communities to prepare for outbreaks – and help children and families learn how to keep themselves safe and prevent the spread of the virus.

They didn’t want any children to miss out on their rights to quality education, good healthcare and protection from harm. They introduced new safety guidelines and adapted our programmes quickly, so their life-changing work to help children learn, stay safe and grow up healthy could carry on.

To support their work across the globe and here in the UK, in April, Save the Children UK launched an appeal. Thanks to their generous supporters and partners, they have raised over £1.9 million so far.

Thanks to you, in the first six months of their global response to COVID-19, Save the Children have helped 9.1 million people – 4.3 million children and 4.9 million adults – to get through the crisis.

Nafisa*, the first COVID-19 patient at our centre in Cox’s Bazar, returns home

When violence erupted three years ago in Myanmar, Nafisa and her family fled to Bangladesh in search of safety. Since then, they’ve been living in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Despite Nafisa’s best efforts to follow the guidelines to reduce her family’s risk of contracting the disease, Nafisa became sick and tested positive for COVID-19. Her daughter Sufia*, six, also had symptoms.

Nafisa and her three children were taken to Save the Children’s isolation and treatment centre. Nafisa and Sufia received treatment, while Nazib* and Hasif* were taken care of in a safe part of the facility, as there was no one at home to look after them. Nafisa and Sufia recovered and have now gone home.

Save the Children deployed its Emergency Health Unit – a team of global health experts with extensive experience in managing disease outbreaks – to Cox’s Bazar in May to set up and run the 60-bed isolation and treatment centre. The facility started accepting patients in July. Save the Children’s COVID-19 response in Cox’s Bazar also includes community care for children and adults with symptoms.

*names have been changed to protect identities.

women and child walking

Keeping children safe

For many children, home is not a safe place. Local lockdowns and school closures have increased the risk of neglect, abuse and exploitation for children, and had an extreme impact on their wellbeing and mental health.

Our child protections teams have helped children most at risk from these dangers with one-to-one support and helped parents and communities to keep kids safe. Save the Children have given emotional and mental health support to children and families to help them cope with what they’re going through. And all of this support can be offered remotely over the phone or online.

  • 42,000 children have received one-to-one protection support
  • 99,000 children and 213,000 adults have received mental health, psychological and emotional support

Standing side-by-side with children fighting for their rights

Save the Children have been working to influence decision makers worldwide, to make sure children growing up today don’t become a lost generation. They have helped young campaigners to get their voices heard on the biggest issues – whether that’s demanding world leaders take action to challenge the global education crisis head on or fight for climate justice. They’re advocating for universal health coverage, for an end to child marriage and violence against girls, and for equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine in the future.

Children have been through a lot this year. But children are resilient, and they won’t let the pandemic stand in the way of their dreams. Since the start of their COVID-19 appeal, you’ve helped to make sure children can keep learning, keep playing and become who they want to be. You’ve helped them to stand up and demand a fairer world for future generations. It’s a big challenge but together, with children we will build a future for good.

Photo credit: Habiba Ummay / Save the Children