The total raised by the Evening Standard’s Winter Survival Appeal in partnership with Comic Relief has swelled to £2.4 million, thanks to a final week surge in public donations to £200,000 — with £1,250,000 already given out in grants to charities helping the most vulnerable people struggling with the cost of living in London and across the country.
With one million children in extreme poverty and at severe risk of being inadequately fed, clothed or kept warm this winter, the funds raised have been hailed by struggling charities and parents as a lifesaver, providing food and essentials to families in crisis.
We have funded 20 outstanding charities and social enterprises, with the rest of the funds to be allocated in the new year. It marks the biggest disbursement to charities raised by a British news group this year in response to the cost-of-living crisis.
One such charity was visited by Rita Ora, who found the experience highly emotional. The singer had stopped by at a women’s refuge, home to 21 families and supported by Buttle UK, a charity we have backed with a £50,000 grant.
Between smiling and crying and singing to the children, Ora spoke for three hours to three mothers. She left feeling uplifted, impressed by their resilience and determination in the face of such overwhelming adversity.
“You’re a fighter — the definition of bravery,” she told one woman. “Thank you for coming and recognising us,” came the heartfelt reply. Later Ora reflected: “All three women I met were so different, but they felt like they could hope again.”
Bringing hope is what these extraordinary charities do. And this is what our intensive five-week drive — with coverage in the paper and online every day — revealed as we sought to raise the profile of struggling Londoners and secure funds to support them.
Special thanks goes to the more than 3,500 ordinary Londoners who donated £200,000 from their hard-earned income to help fellow Londoners in crisis. Richard Curtis, Bafta-winning filmmaker of Love Actually and Notting Hill and co-founder of Comic Relief, likened their “propensity for generosity and small acts of kindness” to “a love-letter to humanity”.
Evening Standard proprietor Lord Lebedev also hailed the generosity of our donors, large and small, and said: “Thousands of families will have a happier Christmas thanks to your generosity. The incredible £2.4 million raised for our Winter Survival Appeal will provide warm meals and community support across the country. Thank you for making a difference.”
Sir Lenny Henry, comedian and co-founder of Comic Relief, enthused: “You’ve done it again you wonderful people! To have raised such a massive amount of money in such worrying times is extraordinary.
The biggest thank you goes out to every single one of you who has donated your hard-earned money to help those who are facing all sorts of challenges right now. Your kindness will help to improve the lives of so many people this winter.”
Samir Patel, CEO of Comic Relief said: “Your enormous compassion shown in the midst of the social crisis we are facing has blown us all away. The winter months can be the toughest, but thanks to the Evening Standard and everyone who has donated, our fantastic charity partners will be able to make life easier for families and vulnerable people going through the most difficult times.
"Because of your incredible support, we’ll be able to get more food to people going hungry, more mental health support to those struggling, and more essential items to baby banks. Thank you.”
* Donation lines will remain open until January 15.
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