Children's services

Our services support children and families throughout the country.

We provide therapeutic services to help children move on from abuse, as well as supporting parents and families in caring for their children. We help professionals make the best decisions for children and young people, and support communities to help prevent abuse from happening in the first place.

To do this, we work directly with children and families in our service centres across the UK and Channel Islands and through innovative projects such as Together for Childhood

Our Scale-up Unit works with other organisations to help them deliver and test our programmes locally and sharing what really works, to help even more children and families.

Find out more about our services and how to access them.

Working with families

Baby Steps is a service that helps people prepare for becoming parents.

Pregnancy and the first few weeks after the baby’s birth are a really good time to reach out to new parents, help them build bonds with their baby and give them support.

The benefits of helping parents at this early stage can last a lifetime.

Who is it for?
New parents, who are less likely to get support, such as antenatal classes, during pregnancy. This can include parents who are under 20, have a drug or alcohol problem, are a victim of domestic abuse, have severe money problems or no social support networks.

Baby Steps takes place from the 7th month of pregnancy until after the baby is born.

Where is Baby Steps available?
Blackpool; York. 
Get in touch with one of these service centres.

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Building Blocks helps parents develop practical skills and ways to cope with the pressures of bringing up a child.

Often parents who need support don’t get help when they need it. This puts children at higher risk of harm in the long-term. We developed this service so parents can feel more confident about caring for their child and keeping them safe.

Sessions are delivered by a practitioner who works with families in their homes.

Who is it for? 
Parents and carers who have children under the age of 7 who would benefit from support. 

Where is Building Blocks available?
Coventry; Grimsby; Tidworth; Newcastle upon Tyne.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Looking after a crying baby is hard but for some families it can lead to stress, depression and relationship problems. In extreme cases, parents may become angry and harm their baby. 

Our short film, Coping with Crying, prepares parents for the stress they might feel when their baby won’t stop crying and helps them to cope better. It aims to prevent non-accidental head injuries.

Who is it for? 
Coping with Crying is an online training course available to community health and social care organisations to deliver as part of their service provision for new parents and babies. 

Where is Coping with Crying available?
Coping with Crying in an online course. Find out more on NSPCC Learning.

Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) helps mothers and children rebuild their relationship after experiencing domestic abuse.

Mothers and children sometimes don’t want to talk about what’s happened because they don’t want to upset each other.

Supporting them to rebuild their relationship is really important to help children overcome the immediate and long-term negative effects of domestic abuse.

The service, recognised by the Home Office, is also a chance to meet others who've lived through similar experiences.

Who is it for?
DART is for primary-school children (aged 7 to 14) and mothers who've experienced domestic abuse.

Both child and mother need to feel safe enough to participate in DART, which means we can’t work with families if they’re still living with the person who has been abusive.

Where is DART available?
Gillingham (in partnership with Medway Council)
Get in touch with one of these service centres.

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Family Focus is an assessment that helps staff working with families to understand the type of issues families are facing, how concerning those issues are and what the impact is on the child and family.

This assessment helps us to understand the underlying reasons for the issues a family is experiencing so we can work to improve the situation for everyone, particularly the child or children involved.

Who is it for?
Children aged 7 or under, who are displaying concerning behaviours, who may be at risk of or suffering maltreatment, and parents who are struggling to cope. We work with a range of families – from those who have recently identified issues, to those who have many concerns.

Where is Family Focus available?
Grimsby; Newcastle; Coventary; Tidworth.
Get in touch with one of these service centres.

Parents Under Pressure™ supports parents who are on a drug or alcohol treatment programme, helping them to stay on track.

Getting parents the right support as early as possible helps them build healthy relationships with their children.

We provide advice to parents on how to deal with challenging behaviour and how to deal with their own emotions. 

Who is it for? 
Parents being treated for drug or alcohol problems, who have children under 8. They must also be able to understand spoken English.

Where is Parents Under Pressure™ available?
Blackpool; Glasgow.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Pregnancy in Mind supports parents during pregnancy.

It aims to help parents manage any difficulties they’re facing, such as anxiety or depression. It uses a range of activities including mindfulness, active relaxation and peer support.

Who is it for?
Expectant parents in the 12th-28th week of pregnancy (middle trimester) who have or are at risk of having anxiety or depression.

Where is Pregnancy in Mind available?
Jersey; Leeds; Swansea; Swindon; Tidworth; York.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

How DART helps

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Around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse.1 Children never just ‘witness’ domestic abuse, the law now recognises they can be victims. Exposure to domestic abuse is child abuse, and it can have a significant impact on a child’s development, health and wellbeing.

We developed a group work programme, Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART), to help children cope with the effects of domestic abuse. Our programme allows children and mothers to talk openly, learn to communicate about what’s happened and rebuild their relationship. The service, recognised by the Home Office, also provides an opportunity to meet with and learn from others who’ve lived through similar experiences.

"We had to watch videos of people like arguing and talk about it. I thought that was quite good because you get to tell the truth to everybody [about what had happened at home]. [It was] a little bit hard but I felt quite good about myself because I let it all out. [Before DART] I kept it to myself . . . All the bad things were in my brain and now it’s turned good. "
Boy aged 8 who attended DART

Domestic abuse can have a negative impact on a child's behaviour, brain development and wellbeing. Children need safety and security – and when those needs aren’t met it can take a toll on their education and their mental health.

"I really need your help; my dad has been physical abusing my mum. He has an anger problem and it's getting out of hand. The smallest things make him angry and he starts shouting. I'm terrified of him and I've had enough, I can't take it any more - please help me!"
Boy, aged 14, Childline

Home isn’t a safe place for every child, so the Covid-19 pandemic and ‘stay at home’ guidance put more children than ever at risk. With schools and face-to-face services closed – it was harder to spot if something’s wrong and harder for children to speak out.

During the pandemic, NSPCC Helpline contacts about domestic abuse increased. Our helpline responded to over 11,600 contacts about domestic abuse in 2020/21, a 35% increase on the previous year2.

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We’ve been running DART for 10 years. In that time, we’ve worked with more than 2,000 women and children across the UK. Since 2018, we’ve trained over 300 professionals in partner organisations to deliver DART themselves.

We evaluated DART and we found that after completing the programme:

  • mothers’ self-esteem and confidence in parenting increased
  • mothers reported more affection towards their children
  • children had fewer emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • the sessions helped children share their experiences of the abuse, and their mothers to understand them.

Read more about the impact our DART service has made in our evaluation on NSPCC Learning.

"I feel I and my daughter have learnt a lot coming here and we’ve become closer and understand each other more."
A mother attending the DART service

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Even as pandemic restrictions lift and schools reopened – domestic abuse is still a danger outside of lockdown. With parents still facing economic and mental health pressures, and limited access to support, the need for specialist services like DART is stronger than ever.

"[My son] never spoke to me about how he felt [whilst the abuse was happening]. Only afterwards [during a DART activity] he made a house, showing me crying in the bedroom, and [the perpetrator] on top of me and [my son] crying, it hit home to me. I thought he’d forgotten about it…But these things were still in his mind. I never thought he thought about it."
Mother who attended DART

We want more families to be able to access support so we’re looking to train and license more partners to help deliver the programme around the UK.

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£5 could pay for one of our practitioners to answer a call to our helpline. Around 90% of our income is donated - we can only be here with your help.3

Donate now

Hear from some of the families we’ve helped with DART

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"I liked doing all the activities (in DART). It was fun doing them, but they [also] had a story behind them...The volcanoes [activity] meant that the more and more anger you keep inside you, it just maybe bursts out on a person who hasn’t done anything."
Child who attended DART

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"All of [the DART practitioners] were so nice. They helped me to see it wasn’t my fault and they helped me to pick myself up a bit. I smiled for the first time in years, because I wasn’t hiding something. I talked about things I had never talked about and I really saw a difference in [my daughter]."
Mother who attended DART

Overcoming abuse

Letting the Future In is a service for children who’ve experienced sexual abuse. It helps children rebuild their lives so they can overcome the past and look forward to the future.

It’s a therapeutic service which allows children to express themselves through play. They can work safely through past experiences and start to move on.

We also work with parents or carers, to help the whole family.

Who is it for? 
Children aged 4-17 who’ve been sexually abused can be referred to this service.

We’ve also adapted this service for learning disabled children between the ages of 4 and 19, available in Camden, Craigavon, Gillingham, Peterborough, Prestatyn, Sheffield, Swindon, Warrington and York.

Where is Letting the Future In available?
Belfast; Camden; Carlise; Craigavon; Croydon; Foyle; Gillingham; Jersey; Newcastle upon Tyne; Peterborough; Plymouth; Prestatyn; Sheffield; Southampton; Stoke on Trent; Swindon; Warrington; York.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Children in care may not understand why they don’t live with their birth parents or the reasons why they entered care. This can affect their mental health.

Through our Life Story Work service, we support children in care where there are concerns about their emotional well-being. We help them build a clear sense of their identity, have a better understanding of what’s happened to them and help them get back on track.

Life Story Work celebrates a child or young person’s achievements. We recognise the resilience they’ve shown by overcoming adversity and help them see themselves in a positive light.

The service can last 6 to 9 months. By the end, the child will have produced a product (such as a book or a film) and have gained knowledge and experience they can continue to use in the future.

Who is it for?
We work with children aged 8 to 17 who may have had multiple placements or may not understand why they came into care. The aim is to help them build their self-esteem, while providing knowledge about their situation that helps them understand the past.

Where is Life Story Work available?
Liverpool; Nottingham; Gillingham; Prestatyn; Sheffield.

Get in touch with one of these service centres

Seeking Solutions offers children and young people help and support to deal with problems affecting their life, happiness or well-being.

The service helps to improve the young person’s confidence, skills and strengths, so they’re better prepared to cope with any future problems. It can help address a range of problems which could be affecting their life, including:

  • problems with relationships
  • peer pressure, bullying or problems with friends
  • family issues
  • coping with feelings like anger, sadness or rejection
  • low self-confidence
  • issues at school
  • managing anxiety.

Who is it for?
Seeking Solutions  provides support and advice to:

  • children and young people aged between 7 and 18 (young people can be referred up to their 19th birthday.) Younger children may be considered, depending on the individual
  • children and young people living with their parents or in care
  • children in need
  • children subject of child protection planning.

Where is Seeking Solutions available?
Belfast; Croydon; Gillingham; Jersey; Leeds/Bradford; Liverpool; Peterborough; Sheffield; Swindon ; Tidworth; York.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Protect and Respect works with children and young people offering 2 types of support for children who either need support to learn about healthy relationships or who may be experiencing exploitation. One type of support is the Support and Protection service, for children who may be experiencing exploitation.

Our practitioners build a trusting relationship with child and parent, using a variety of trauma-informed approaches to improve wellbeing and resilience. This might include helping families improve their relationships with each other and building support networks. We work with other professionals such as the police, social workers and teachers to make sure a child has all the help they need.

The Support and Protection service is intensive and takes place over a six month period, which can be extended up to 12 months if needed.

Who is it for? 
The support and protection service in Protect & Respect is for children and young people aged 11 to 19, where there are concerns that a child or young person is experiencing exploitation. We provide tailored support for the child and their parent or carer.

Where is Protect and Respect available?
Camden, Carlisle, Croydon, Liverpool, Nottingham,Peterborough, Prestatyn, Sheffield, Swansea / Cardiff
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Infant Family Team is a service that helps social workers and judges decide whether a child should stay with their birth family or enter care permanently.

Moving in and out of care is very disruptive and can have long-term effects on a child’s mental health. But some effects can be prevented if they’re placed in a secure, loving home early in life.

Who is it for? 
We work with the birth parents and foster carers of children aged between 6 months and 5 years old. The children must be in local authority care for the first time, in a foster or kinship care placement.

We help parents to understand the effects of their own early experiences, recognise the importance of their role as parents, learn ways to make sure their children are safe and protected, and access associated support, such as alcohol misuse services.

We also support foster carers, helping them to meet the needs of children in their care.

Decisions about who the child should be permanently placed with are only made after the treatment phase. This decision is based on whether the parent is able to build their relationship with the child.

Where is the Infant Family Team available?
Croydon; Glasgow.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

The Lighthouse provides support to children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse to help them recover.

An advocate works with children and their families to access the services and support they need, when they need them. This includes working with doctors, nurses, play therapists, police, psychiatrists, and therapy workers. These specialists are all based in the same building, so children and young people don’t have to keep telling their story again and again.

Find out more on The Lighthouse website.

Who is it for?
Children and young people in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington. The service is also for adults with learning disabilities aged 18-25.

Where is The Lighthouse available?
Camden.

Get in touch with this service centre.

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Being made to go to court can be very scary for a child. Our Young Witness Service supports young people who have to attend court as a witness.

The service can reduce the stress they experience, prevent further trauma and help them give the best evidence they can.

Watch the video above to find out more about how the service works, and how it helps young people avoid more stress.

Who is it for? 
We provide support in Northern Ireland for young prosecution witnesses (under 18), in all types of criminal cases, as well as their parents or carers.

Where is Young Witness Service available?
Antrim; Belfast; Londonderry; Newry; Portadown.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find our more at NSPCC Learning

How The Lighthouse helps

Getting the right support when a child has been abused is so important. But after sexual abuse, children and their families often struggle to navigate health and social care, therapeutic services, police, and often, the criminal justice process by themselves.

That’s why we’re proud to have helped launch The Lighthouse, London’s first Child House, in October 2018. It's the first centre in the UK to bring multiple agencies together under one roof to provide a child-friendly, multidisciplinary service for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Based in Camden, it serves the London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.

The Lighthouse is a truly collaborative effort, with services provided by University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trusts, NSPCC, The Brandon Centre, Camden Council, The Metropolitan Police Service, Respond, and Solace Women’s Aid.  

"The Lighthouse has been a little bit of refuge."
Parent in London

When a child has experienced sexual abuse, they and their family are often left to navigate finding the right support for their child alone. From health care professionals, social workers, therapists and the police – this frequently means the child has to re-tell and re-live their experience with each agency or professional, risking being re-traumatised by the process 

The Lighthouse is based on the international Child House (Barnahus) model, established in Reykjavik in 1998. This model is child-centred, allowing medical and sexual health professionals, counsellors, therapists, and the police to work together under one roof – guiding children, young people and their families through their journey of recovery, helping them access the support they need at every step, including the court process. 

"I only have to tell the story once."
Child using The Lighthouse in London

In London, where The Lighthouse is based, research has identified a “significant unmet need” for emotional and health support for children who have experienced sexual abuse1. Those who do sometimes have to wait months to receive therapy and the support they need. One study found that 8 in 10 adolescents who experienced sexual abuse had mental health problems 4-5 months after the assault2. That is why it is so important children get the help they need when they need it.

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In 2019/20, The Lighthouse received 321 referrals, meaning approximately 1 in 2 children in North Central London who reported sexual offences were referred there for support.3 The Lighthouse team were able to accept 258 of those referrals, supporting children and families through this difficult time.

The team regularly ask children and their parents what they like about the service centre. Children felt that at The Lighthouse: 

  • their views were taken seriously 
  • they were listened to 
  • the practitioners were easy to talk to
  • The Lighthouse teams were working together to support them. 

"I like the way I can talk and be advised and listened to. I can also talk about what I’d like to talk about."
Child using The Lighthouse in London

The majority of parents and guardians that fedback to us felt the services they received were good, and felt supported by The Lighthouse. 

"I don’t know how my family would have got through this trauma without this service. Truly amazing."
Parent in London

The Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime is evaluating the Lighthouse and has published 3 reports to date, with a final report due in Summer 2021.  

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We believe every child should have the support they need after facing sexual abuse. Being a partner in The Lighthouse has shown us the difference a Child House can make for young people who've experienced abuse and we're pleased that funding for The Lighthouse in London has been extended to March 2022.

"Think it’s a great service dedicated to young people and their families. Should have more around the UK"
Parent in London

Given the success of The Lighthouse in London, we’ll advocate nationally for the benefits of this model and campaign to have new sites funded and built across the UK. 

With support from government and commissioners, we can make the Child Houses model an integral part of the support and services available to children who’ve experienced abuse.

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Thanks to the Home Office, The Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime, NHS England, the Department for Education, charity partner Morgan Stanley (who raised over £1.5m) this multi-agency project was brought to life. The generous funding the project received helped to refurbish and transform the NSPCC’s service centre in North London. 

£25 could pay for toys for children to use during therapeutic sessions to help explain how they’re feeling. Around 90% of our income is donated - we can only be here with your help.4

Donate now

Hear from some of the people we've helped

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"I like the way I can talk and be advised and listened to. I can also talk about what I’d like to talk about."
Child using The Lighthouse in London

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"Relaxed and calming place with understanding people very keen to help and reassure."
Parent in London

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"Even though my situation may have made my mother sad, now I can tell her anything and you brought us closer together."
Child using The Lighthouse in London

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"A welcoming friendly environment with a family feel rather than a stuffy office."
Parent in London

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"In the Lighthouse they made me feel comfortable and made me feel open about my opinions."
Parent in London

Preventing sexual abuse

In Ctrl is a group work programme for children and young people that aims to help them keep safe and prevent online sexual abuse. It lasts up to 8 weeks and can be delivered 1-to-1 when a child or young person needs extra support.

Who is it for?

This is a service for children aged 9-13 who may have existing vulnerabilities due to previous adverse experiences in their childhood. These adverse experiences may include physical, sexual, domestic or emotional abuse, neglect, parental ill health or substance use or absence or separation from parents.

Our practitioners support parents, helping them understand the work that is being offered to their children and the opportunity to discuss any concerns they have online.

Where is In Ctrl available?

Belfast, South Wales, Coventry, Leeds and Bradford, Plymouth, Warrington.
Get in touch with one of these service centres.

The National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (also called NCATS) works with children and young people at risk of harming other children sexually.

We run this service because children and young people with harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others. Those who develop harmful sexual behaviour have usually experienced abuse and neglect themselves.

Depending on the results of the assessment, we might recommend treatment or care that works with the young person on their own, or with the family.

Who is it for? 
Children and young people up to the age of 21 can be referred to NCATS for reasons such as:

  • they have a history of harmful sexual behaviour
  • they have convictions of sexual offences.

Treatment is tailored to the child, so the length of time we work with them depends on their needs.

Where is NCATS available?
NCATS is based in Camden, north London, but is available nationwide. Get in touch to find out more by calling 020 3772 9905 or emailing NCATS@nspcc.org.uk.


Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Turn the Page helps young people overcome feelings that have made them harm another child sexually.

The programme aims to help young people change their behaviour by helping them realise what they’re thinking and feeling, and then how to manage their actions.

Who is it for?
Children and young people aged 5-18 who professionals are concerned about.

Where is Turn the Page available?
Belfast; Bradford; Camden; Cardiff; Carlisle; Coventry; Craigavon; Grimsby; Newcastle upon Tyne; Peterborough; Plymouth; Stoke on Trent; Warrington.
Get in touch with one of these service centres

Find out more at NSPCC Learning

Protect and Respect works with children and young people offering 2 types of support for children who either need support to learn about healthy relationships or who may be experiencing exploitation. One type of support is the awareness-raising group work, which is designed to meet the needs of children at an early stage.

We work with a wide range of organisations such as schools or youth clubs. When an organisation refers a child to Protect and Respect for group work, our practitioners will first make sure the programme is appropriate for the child’s needs. We brief the organisation about the programme so they can help support the child throughout the process.

Groups can include 3-8 children and young people. We develop a clear group agreement to make sure children are comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings about topics such as consent, internet safety, healthy relationships and self-esteem. The content of the group work is designed to complement relationships and sex education. Extra support is in place during and after the sessions for any young people who need it.

Who is it for?

The awareness-raising group work is suitable for children aged 11-19 who have vulnerabilities or experiences which are leading professionals to have low level concerns about relationships with others. It is not designed to support children who are currently experiencing exploitation or who are suffering significant or complex trauma because of their experiences.

Locations

Camden, Carlisle, Croydon, Liverpool, Nottingham,Peterborough, Prestatyn, Sheffield, Swansea / Cardiff

*DISCLAiMER

Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.


References

  1. 1. Goddard, A., Harewood, E. and Brennan, L., (2015) Review of pathway following sexual assault for children and young people in London. NHS England, The Havens, Kings College Hospital London.

  2. 1. Radford et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today. London: NSPCC

  3. 2. (Khadr, S. et al. (2018). Mental and sexual health outcomes following sexual assault in adolescents: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 2(9), 654-665.) Baseline interviews (T0) were done less than 6 weeks after an assault to collect data on sociodemographic and assault. At T0, psychological symptom scores showed that 115 (88%) of 130 females were at risk for depressive disorder, 90 (71%) of 126 were at risk for anxiety disorders, and 116 (91%) of 128 were at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, with symptoms largely persisting at T1. 68 (80%) of 85 females who had a diagnostic assessment at T1 had a psychiatric disorder, with multiple disorders in 47 (55%) of 85.

  4. 2. During the pandemic, NSPCC Helpline contacts about domestic abuse increased. Our helpline responded to over 11,600 contacts about domestic abuse in 2020/21, a 35% increase on the previous year.

  5. 3. Harewood, E. (2021) The Lighthouse annual report 2019-2020. London: The Lighthouse https://www.thelighthouse-london.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Lighthouse-Annual-Report-2020-web-version.pdf The data analysed includes Excelicare records of children and young people aged 0–25 years old referred to the Lighthouse following disclosure or suspicion of child sexual abuse. The data relates to all 321 referrals and 198 initial assessments and onward support of children and young people living in the North Central London area who accessed the service between October 2019 and September 2020. Compared with the number of police reports for sexual offences in under 18 years olds, it can be seen that the number of Lighthouse referral rate ranges from 34 to 59% of the total number of sexual offences reported to the police in the borough in the same period (Oct 2019 – Sept 2020). This means the Lighthouse continues to receive referrals for approximately 1 in 2 children and young people in NCL who report sexual offences. 258 (80%) of referrals to the Lighthouse were accepted, allocated to a team and offered either an an initial assessment, consultation or an ABE

  6. 3.In 2019/20 our total income was £117.6 million. Of this total £93.5 million came from donations and legacies and a further £9.0 million came from activities undertaken for the purpose of raising funds (like dinners and balls, auctions and challenge events). This gives a total of £102.5 million from our supporters, or 87% of all income.

  7. 4. In 2019/20 our total income was £117.6 million. Of this total £93.5 million came from donations and legacies and a further £9.0 million came from activities undertaken for the purpose of raising funds (like dinners and balls, auctions and challenge events). This gives a total of £102.5 million from our supporters, or 87% of all income.