Press release

Britain’s love of football to help boost Ebola response

The government will match up to £5 million of public donations to UNICEF's Ebola appeal

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The British government will support a major fundraising appeal to help children who have been made orphans because of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Up to £5 million of donations from members of the British public to UNICEF’s Ebola appeal will be matched by the UK Government, providing urgent support for families and children living under the threat of the disease.

Building on the success of SoccerAid, UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s organisation, will use the upcoming Scotland v England football match to boost their emergency appeal. Britain and Sierra Leone share a mutual love of the beautiful game, making this appeal particularly poignant due to the fact that football matches in Sierra Leone have been cancelled since August.

Ebola has put thousands of children in danger with many being orphaned by the disease. With schools closed, children have been cut off from their friends and many are fighting for survival on a daily basis. This funding will help care for and protect some of the most vulnerable children, especially those who have lost their parents and are in desperate need of food and other supplies.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

The UK has secured real action from G20 leaders here in Brisbane but the generosity of the British people in helping those caught up in the Ebola crisis in West Africa has been second to none. That’s why we will match up to £5m of the money raised during Tuesday’s match, helping to make a real difference to the families and children living under the threat of the disease.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

This week’s Scotland v England match will give the British public the chance to show their support for UNICEF’s Ebola appeal in Sierra Leone.

By matching pound for pound all public donations to the appeal we will help UNICEF give double the support to children who have been orphaned and had their lives turned upside down by this dreadful disease.

This is the second time the Government has activated the UK Aid Match Scheme in response to Ebola, underlining the unprecedented nature of this outbreak. The British people have already responded generously to the DEC appeal and again the government is helping this appeal go twice as far by matching donations from the UK public pound-for-pound.

The UK has committed £230 million to date supporting the global effort to contain, control and defeat the disease in Sierra Leone. This includes:

  • Supporting 700 treatment beds to help up to 8,800 patients over 6 months;
  • Opening up to 200 Community Care Centres where people who suspect they might be suffering from the disease can seek swift and accurate diagnosis and appropriate care;
  • Building, running and staffing three new labs in Sierra Leone to help check the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, quadrupling the number of tests that can be carried out every day;
  • Supporting NGOs on the ground to work with people to agree practices which will allow them to honour their friends and relatives, while ensuring bodies are safely buried;
  • Doubling the number of burial teams in Freetown – and providing twenty more across the country. We have already made extensive progress on this, with UK support burial teams in the western area, which accounts for approximately a third of Sierra Leone’s population, are now burying 100% of reported bodies within 24 hours and;
  • Supporting a command and control centre to manage burials and Ebola patients across Freetown and the Western area.

In addition, RFA Argus and three Merlin helicopters are in Sierra Leone to deliver transportation and logistical support for medical teams and aid experts working in the country. In total, around 800 military personnel have been deployed to help with the establishment of Ebola treatment centres and an Ebola training academy.

Notes to editors

Viewers of the match on both ITV and Sky Sports will be able to see the appeal just before kick-off at 8pm and then again during half time where they will be asked to help by texting the word ‘KIT’ to 70333 to donate £5.

The UK Government will match pound for pound all public donations made to UNICEF UK during the game and until Monday November 24th.

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Published 16 November 2014