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Life Story: Frequently asked questions

1. What is the key message of the advertising campaign?

The core message is that, because of the work of Barnardo's, the lives of vulnerable children in the UK do not have to end how they began.

2. What is the idea behind the advert?

The ad tells the story of Michael, a vulnerable child who has turned his life around with the support of Barnardo's.

Young Michael at 5 | Lifestory campaign Barnardo's

3. Is the ad based on a real young person?

Although the ad does not depict a specific person, it is based on the experiences of the vulnerable children and young people that we work with. Our work shows that for many young people things that have happened to them as a child, such as domestic violence or bullying can lead to aggressive behaviour and further problems, such as substance misuse, when they are older. The ad is a true reflection of this.

4. How did you ensure Michael’s story was as realistic as possible?

The advertising agency we worked with visited several Barnardo’s projects prior to developing the ad and during its development. These included: Young Women’s Project, The Hub, Heshima, Lewisham Children’s Rights, The Freeman Family Centre and Windemere.

They also spoke to a number of Barnardo’s independent visitors and the children they work with, from our London Independent Visitors Service. This was invaluable in crafting the script and making the advert as realistic as possible.

We also showed the advert to a number of project workers, across a range of service areas, who agreed the advert was an accurate and powerful portrayal of the children and young people we help and the work Barnardo's does.

5. How does Barnardo's help children like Michael?

You’ll find detail about this in other parts of this website, including interviews with Barnardo's project workers explaining how we help children facing issues such as domestic violence, leaving care and specialist education needs. And for further information on any other areas of Barnardo's work please see the working with children and young people section of the Barnardo's website.

6. Why do you spend money on TV advertising?

TV advertising is the most powerful way we can raise our brand awareness, increasing our appeal and relevance as a modern charity in the public eye and gaining us more support. A strong brand presence is critical, acting as a platform from which to fundraise to continue our vital work with children and young people.

In times of economic uncertainty, charities often see their income decline as people are forced to make hard choices about their spending and often cut back on their expenditure. People will continue to support charities but only those they feel are most deserving, and may reduce the number of charities they give to. In an increasingly competitive charity marketplace we need to ensure we continue to raise awareness of our work and communicate our deservedness, so that we remain at the forefront of our supporters’ minds and ensure their continued loyalty to us.

7. How do you measure the success of the advertising?

On an ongoing basis we track and measure a range of factors relating to our brand so we can measure the shift in responses when we our advertising on TV. Key elements we track are:

  • Prompted and spontaneous awareness of Barnardo’s Propensity to donate to Barnardo's

With regard to our brand awareness; we know that while over 90% of the adult population have heard of Barnardo's, only around 15% when asked to name a charity, mention Barnardo's.  However when we are advertising on TV we see this percentage increase significantly.

8. What do you say to those who are offended by the content of the advertising?

Our intention is not to offend anyone but to highlight some of the experiences of the vulnerable children and young people we work with.

The ad is based on the experiences of real children and young people and it is important that we reflect this accurately, and highlight issues which are affecting the lives of so many young people today.

9. What do you say to people who are distressed by the advertisement?

The last thing we want is to distress or upset victims of abuse.

Our intention is to highlight such issues, and demonstrate that Barnardo’s can help children who find themselves in such situations. Only by doing this will we achieve the public support that will enable us to continue our work supporting those affected by abuse.

We have been responsible in seeking advice about how to handle such calls, and have compiled a list of organisations that can support people through these issues. If you require help and support in relation to the issues addressed in our advertising please use the following guidance.

If you are a child or young person;

  • If you are in immediate danger please call 999
  • If you need help or support please call Childline on 0800 11 11

If you are an adult;

  • If you think that a child is in immediate danger please dial 999.
  • If you are concerned about a child, please call 0808 800 5000 to discuss your concerns with the NSPCC 24 Hour Child Protection Helpline.
  • If you have been distressed by our advertising please contact either of the following organisations for help and support:

   NAPAC (National Association of People Abused in Childhood)
0800 085 3330
   Website: NAPAC

08457 90 90 90
   Website: Samaritans

10. Where can I find out more information about the advertising campaign?

You can email us at if  you wish to discuss the advert further or have comments you’d like to share with us.

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