John Lyon’s Charity bridges funding gap to support schools continue to provide theatre trips despite budget cuts.

  • One in five 16–24-year-olds said they would never have seen a Christmas show or pantomime were it not for their school.
  • 22% of 16–24-year-olds said that school is the only opportunity where they could go on a trip to the theatre.[1]

A new survey reveals that one in five young people would have never experienced the joy of a Christmas show or pantomime were it not for the trips available at their school. However, with budget cuts on the rise, the reality is looking bleak for many schools who are having to cut back on their school trips and outings, including opportunities such as going to the theatre.

John Lyon’s Charity, one of London’s leading Grant-Givers in the Children and Young People’s sector is on a mission to close this gap to ensure that all children experience the magic of theatre. The Charity is urging schools based in North and West London to apply to its Cultural Capital Fund, which directly funds theatre trips and other cultural opportunities for state schools.

Earlier this year, The Sutton Trust revealed that 50% of schools from the most disadvantaged communities were being forced to cut back on trips and outings, compared to 21% last year. [2] The lack of Government funding is putting significant pressure on schools to be able to deliver essential opportunities, such as trips and outings. As a result, funding from organisations such as John Lyon’s Charity is needed now more than ever to ensure children and young people are privy to the same opportunities as anyone else.

Wayne Bate, Assistant Headteacher at Gifford Primary School said: “Funding from John Lyon’s Charity’s Cultural Capital Fund enabled our Year 6 pupils to attend the theatre production of Wicked. The impact of this experience on our students, particularly those from deprived areas, was truly remarkable.  I conducted an assembly and asked the pupils to raise their hands if they had previously attended a West End musical and was astounded to find that less than 10 pupils out of 123 raised their hands. Gifford Primary School is immensely grateful for this funding as external theatre trips and outings are becoming more and more difficult due to drastic budget cuts.”

Dr. Lynne Guyton, CEO of John Lyon’s Charity said: “With ongoing budget cuts coupled with the Cost of Living crisis, it is no surprise that schools are feeling the financial squeeze and having to cut experiential activities like trips and theatre visits. We created the Cultural Capital Fund because we believe that everyone is entitled to experience the beauty of theatre.  Starting a theatre-going habit for children will ensure diverse audiences for the future and not just the privileged few. The Cultural Capital Fund is, and always will be, about equity in cultural capital for all children and young people.  We want to remind schools that through our Cultural Capital Fund, we can help give students an opportunity to experience the magic and wonder of theatre and alleviate some of the financial pressures. Please apply, we want to help bridge this budget gap!” Since launching the Cultural Capital Fund in 2021 as a direct response to the pandemic, the Charity has awarded 251 schools in grants, supporting around 50,000+ children thus far. To find out more about John Lyon’s Charity and its Cultural Capital Fund, please click here.

[2] School Funding and Pupil Premium 2023 – Sutton Trust

[1] Research: Insight conducted by market research company Opinion Matters between the dates 06.10.2023 – 09.10.2023. The research surveyed a sample of 2002 16+ adults.

Lynne Guyton joins BBC Radio London’s ‘Listed Londoner’ Hall of Fame

Every Sunday a notable Londoner answers 15 questions on BBC Radio London to become a ‘Listed Londoner’.  To profile raise the Charity, Lynne Guyton, CEO of John Lyon’s Charity was invited to the BBC Radio London studio to discuss all things John Lyon’s Charity with presenter Robert Elms, as well as her favourite haunts, memories, pet hates and everything in between. Previous ‘Listed Londoner’s have included Amy Winehouse, Ronnie Wood, David Bailey, Brenda Blethyn, Tracey Emin, Steven Berkoff, Zandra Rhodes, June Brown and many more. Click on the Vimeo link above to tune into Lynne’s fantastic interview as she becomes a part of BBC Radio London’s ‘Listed Londoner’ Hall of Fame.

Andrew Stebbings, 1951 – 2023

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of former CEO of John Lyon’s Charity, Andrew Stebbings, who passed away on Friday 9th June 2023 following a brave and lengthy battle with cancer. 

As Clerk to the Governors of Harrow School, Andrew had the vision, determination and perseverance to oversee, after a decade-long campaign, the creation of John Lyon’s Charity in 1991.  As Clerk, and later the first Chief Executive Officer, Andrew shaped John Lyon’s Charity and steered it to become a force for good, a force for change and one of the largest independent funders in London.  Andrew’s legacy lives on today with John Lyon’s Charity and we are forever grateful for his tenacity and foresight in ensuring John Lyon’s Charity had a positive future.

Our deepest condolences go out to Andrew’s wife Jane, his sons Peter, Jamie, Guy and Will, his friends and to all those within the Harrow community who will no doubt share in this great loss. 

Andrew Stebbings, 1951 – 2023

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New survey reveals children will have to stay home during the summer holidays

A new survey by John Lyon’s Charity has discovered that countless children will have to stay at home during the six-week summer break because family money is tight.  To help the situation, the Charity has funded 88 groups across North and West London through its School Holiday Activity Fund to offer fun and accessible activities for children to experience during the summer holidays.

John the Lyon and Children

The new survey reveals that.

  • Due to the Cost of Living crisis, 31% of parents can no longer afford to take their child/ren out to theme parks, day trips, camping trips and other activities during the school holidays
  • 30% of parents are worried about what they can do with their children during the school holidays because everything is so expensive.
  • 21% of child/ren will have to stay at home for the majority of the school holidays because their parents cannot afford to take them out.

Six weeks of summer holiday is exciting for children but can be challenging for parents.  This year the Cost of Living crisis is squeezing family budgets even more during the school holidays, leaving little extra money for outings, trips and treats.

To help alleviate the pressures of the current climate for families and young people during the school holidays, John Lyon’s Charity wants to remind parents of the many school holiday clubs and activities that run throughout North and West London thanks to the Charity’s School Holiday Activity Fund (SHAF). The Fund is designed to enable organisations to deliver fun and accessible activities for children and young people during the school holidays so that they can experience camping trips, family activities, trips to the beach or the zoo and other sports activities without any financial pressures or limitations. Almost all of the 88 groups awarded are providing meals on top of snacks and refreshments as part of their delivery.

John the Lyon and Children

Dr. Lynne Guyton, CEO of John Lyon’s Charity said: We are shocked at the findings from our survey and will do all we can to support families who are continuously affected by the Cost of Living crisis.  Whilst we cannot fund families directly, we can take the financial pressures off in other ways and our School Holiday Activity Fund is one of them. This opportunity will ensure many young people won’t have to stay at home during the school holidays and will still be able to experience the same opportunities as any other young person. 21% of young people staying at home for the whole of the summer holidays is 21% too many!”

John Lyon’s Charity has funded 88 groups through its School Holiday Activity Fund across North and West London this summer. These young people will not only experience a variety of fun summer activities, but they will also receive a visit from the Charity’s furry mascot, John the Lyon who loves to put smiles on children’s faces.

The Charity’s mission is to support the life-chances of children and young people through providing as many opportunities as possible and the school holidays are no exception. To find out more about John Lyon’s Charity and its funding opportunities, please visit

1,103 respondents who have school-aged children in the United Kingdom from 12.05.23 – 15.05.23. Opinion Matters abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

John Lyon’s Charity in Film Awards FINALS

John Lyon’s Charity has made it to the Charity Film Awards FINALS

February 2023

Charity Film Awards

With over 400 UK-based charities entering this year, John Lyon’s Charity is delighted to announce that it has made it to the 6th annual Charity Film Awards Finals! A number of the Charity’s groups have also made it to the finals this year, which will make the glitzy event all the more enjoyable.

Almost 40,000 votes were cast by the public in the first round, and it’s now down to a panel of expert judges to select winners from each film category. 

Aiming to change mindsets and raise awareness of the good causes behind the work they do, the judges are in for a tough time, with an exceptionally high level of competition as provided by the charities’ films.

The Charity Film Awards has a panel of expert judges – which includes high-profile names from entertainment, business, media, academia, and social enterprises – who will be selecting the winners from each category, which is divided by charity turnover, film length and corporate cause.

The winners of the 2023 awards will be announced at a gala ceremony in central London on 21 March 2023.

Nicolas Loufrani, CEO of Smiley Movement, said:Nothing captures hearts and minds like film. These amazing films from wonderful causes absolutely demonstrate the importance of film for charitable campaigning. It’s vital we support all causes – big or small. A huge congratulations to all the Finalists, who should be delighted with the public support for their films through the campaign. We’re incredibly proud that Smiley Movement’s investment in the Charity Film Awards has already generated millions of additional views on these films.

John Lyon’s Charity has its fingers crossed for all the finalists but especially its own groups. To find out more information on the Charity Film Awards, please click here.