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The promotion of children's health and wellbeing: the contributions of England's charity sector

Kamaldeep S Bhui1*, Lul A Admasachew2 and Albert Persaud3

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Psychiatry, Barts and The London, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Old Anatomy Building, Charterhouse Square, London, UK

2 Institute for Health Services Effectiveness, Work & Organisational Psychology Group, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

3 The Centre for Applied Research and Evaluation International Foundation (careif), Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Old Anatomy Building, Charterhouse Square, London, UK

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:188  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-188

Published: 13 July 2010



Sports and arts based services for children have positive impacts on their mental and physical health. The charity sector provides such services, often set up in response to local communities expressing a need. The present study maps resilience promoting services provided by children's charities in England. Specifically, the prominence of sports and arts activities, and types of mental health provisions including telephone help-lines, are investigated.


The study was a cross-sectional web-based survey of chief executives, senior mangers, directors and chairs of charities providing services for children under the age of 16. The aims, objectives and activities of participating children's charities and those providing mental health services were described overall. In total 167 chief executives, senior managers, directors and chairs of charities in England agreed to complete the survey. From our sample of charities, arts activities were the most frequently provided services (58/167, 35%), followed by counselling (55/167, 33%) and sports activities (36/167, 22%). Only 13% (22/167) of charities expected their work to contribute to the health legacy of the 2012 London Olympics. Telephone help lines were provided by 16% of the charities that promote mental health.


Counselling and arts activities were relatively common. Sports activities were limited despite the evidence base that sport and physical activity are effective interventions for well-being and health gain. Few of the charities we surveyed expected a health legacy from the 2012 London Olympics.