The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Hope Works


Alison Stewart,
Children’s Media Consultant,  Co-Founder
Hope Works and CMF Supporter.



The Hope Works project launched globally this November.  A set of short films with additional learning resources aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 12 and their families, designed to promote the values of empathy and tolerance and to relieve some of the anxiety felt by many children in the world today.  The project’s ambitious strapline:

“Using the power of entertainment to reawaken a generation’s hope”.

So where did the idea come from?

Date:    July, 2016

Place:   CMC, Sheffield

Mood:  Anxious!

It was two weeks after the Brexit referendum vote.  Conversation at The Children's Media Conference in 2016 was dominated by the threat posed to the UK children’s media business by our exit from the EU, with the potential loss of significant funding.  The “B word” was on everyone’s lips and there was a feeling of uncertainty everywhere.

But it wasn’t just the financial implication of Brexit that was causing this anxiety.  Within days of the vote there had been reports of increased hate crime in the UK.  In the US the run-up to the Presidential Election was engendering open aggression amongst communities and rifts in families.  The global refugee crisis was becoming ever more serious and no-one could escape that image of a child’s body, washed up on a beach, which appeared on every front page, and time and again on social media.

At a CMC dinner that week I sat next to Lucy Murphy, Head of Sky Kids in the UK.  We spoke about the news, agreed that it certainly wasn’t the best of times and then the discussion turned towards children – if adults were feeling anxious and unsure, if some of them were in open conflict with each other as a result of these global events, what effect must this be having on children?  Furthermore, older children would be receiving unfiltered news reports and images via their social media, which would be confusing and frightening.

The idea seemed to come to us immediately . . .  could we engage our broadcaster and producer colleagues from around the world to contribute to a set of short films, providing a united message of reassurance for our children?  We started there and then.  Present at the dinner were heads and senior members of several international broadcasters.  We took our idea around the room and everyone we approached agreed to consider contributing to the project.

Lucy went back to Sky and I to the BBC, where I was working at the time, and we pitched our idea.  Our Managers, Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content, Sky and Alice Webb, Director BBC Children's needed no persuasion and both agreed to provide funding which would set up the infrastructure of the project.  After that it would be down to the film contributors to self-fund the films.

Our idea evolved into a proposal that every producer of a film would receive the rights to broadcast or publish all the films on any platforms they chose.    Producers could not use any of their existing IP in these films, as this might give some commercial advantage.  There would be no windowing or premiering on any channel or service until the day of the global launch.  The project would not be owned by any one entity – it would be a truly collaborative venture.

It took two years and five months for Hope Works to evolve from the birth of the idea at CMC to the global launch on 20th November this year – Unicef’s World Children’s Day.  Lucy and I have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the producers of the 12 beautiful films and accompanying learning resources.  The creative agency Sunshine helped us brand the project and developed the themes for the films; YouTube and social media presence have been managed for us by Wildbrain; Disney EMEA offered to localise the films into 20 languages; a website, funded by Google, houses the films and resources; 9Story are providing secondary distribution services.

This has been a remarkable venture.  Every producer, contributor and supporter has given time and resources generously, inspired by the need in children everywhere to feel some hope about the world in which the will grow up.  A need that is as great now, if not greater, than it was in July 2016.

Plans are now under way for a second burst of activity in February and we hope to produce a second series of films in 2019.  Please get in touch if you are interested in joining the Hope Works family!


Twitter:   @hopeworksproj



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