“Local children need our help more than ever”: The charity creating dreams for the children of Hull and East Yorkshire.

Hull and East Yorkshire (HEY) Children’s University is a local charity that strives to give every child the opportunities they deserve, no matter what circumstances they were born into.

Many children around Hull and the East Riding do not have the same opportunities that other children have in the UK. Many have never been much further than the street in which they live and some children will never visit another city until they reach adulthood. Because of this, some children don’t have any aspirations for the future. 


Society places a huge importance on academic success- but what about those children that don’t excel in academia? HEY Children’s University believes that every child is brilliant at something, and that might be something different to academic talent. But how can those children find out their unique talents if they don’t have the opportunity to try new things? 

‘If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’- Albert Einstein

HEY Children’s University gives local children the opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have and gives them the chance to discover their interests and talents- the chance to create their own dreams. The charity aims to light up every path that a child could take and show them their options. Despite what the name implies, HEY Children’s University is about ensuring that children know about all the pathways into careers: be that an apprenticeship, starting their own business, working their way up in a company or attending college or University. Every child should understand what pathways exist. 

The charity works with primary school aged children who attend the schools that are in some of the highest areas of deprivation in the country. This includes 46 of the 71 primary schools in Hull. The charity also work with schools in the East Riding which are situated in areas of rural deprivation. 

HEY Children’s University offers a diverse range of experiences that are designed to raise aspirations, confidence and self esteem. Some of these experiences include days at local businesses where the children learn about the industry, meet the staff and take part in a range of activities. The charity also gives children the chance to visit other cities such as London and Edinburgh, offering sleepovers in exciting venues such as the Natural History Museum and the HMS Belfast battleship. 

The pandemic caused a temporary halt to these experiences and the charity had to adapt the way it could help local children. Across 2020 and 2021 HEY Children’s University have delivered 8,759 wellbeing packs and education packs to children around Hull and the East Riding to help them during these tough times. They also delivered over 817 laptops and tablets to local families who did not have access to a device to help them to do their school work over lockdown. 

Some of the devices provided to families during lockdown

Friday 5th November 2021 was a very special day for HEY Children’s University as they ran their first London Experience in 584 days. 60 local primary school children boarded the Hull Trains service at Paragon Station (for many of them it was their first ever time on a train) and set off for a day of sightseeing in London before ending the day at the Royal Opera House to watch the Giselle Ballet.

Rose James, Director of Development at the charity told us how much the day meant to the children: “A family trip to London is something that can be very expensive and so this was the first time visiting the Capital for these children. For most of them, it was their first time on a train, the first time on the London Underground and the first time going to see a ballet. 

Seeing another place with so much to discover and learn really ignites the children’s imaginations and helps them to create dreams that they perhaps didn’t have before. The children are also exposed to career paths that they might not have considered and they get to try new things that build their confidence and give them the desire to explore new locations.

We know that just one experience like this can completely transform a child’s self esteem and their view of the wider world. It really can change their future”. 

Pre-pandemic the charity were taking over 8,000 primary school children from Hull and the East Riding on their inspiring experiences. They are now delivering their experiences again and hope to be reaching even more children in the coming years. 

Natasha Barley, CEO of HEY Children’s University, explained why their work is more important than ever: “Children have never been as isolated as they have been in recent times. Their world became even smaller as we went into lockdown and for the past 2 years so many of them have not had opportunities to see the wider world.

The impact of the pandemic has also meant that many families are experiencing more financial difficulties, so those day trips to see other places might not be something that families can afford at the moment. 

Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their potential and that’s what our charity strives to help them achieve”

More information can be found on the charity’s website www.hullchildrensuniversity.com

Or follow them on Twitter @childrensuni