Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity partnership with Sparks

Children’s medical research charity Sparks joined Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity in January 2017 in a partnership which will increase funding for pioneering and life-changing child health research.
GOSH logo Logo: Sparks Children's Medical Research Charity

Big breakthroughs

GOSH Charity funds research at both the hospital and in research institutions right across the country. The charity launched an ambitious research strategy last year and is committed to investing in unlocking the big breakthroughs of the future for rare and complex childhood conditions.

Tim Johnson, Chief Executive of GOSH Charity said: “For many sick children, research into new treatments is their only hope. Yet research into diseases affecting children is currently woefully underfunded, receiving only five per cent of public and charitable research funding each year.

“We are delighted to have welcomed Sparks into the GOSH Charity family. Together we will be able to fund more work to discover vital treatments for children.”

Elvira Morrison, Head of Sparks said: “In 2016 we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Sparks and all that we had achieved, but we also wanted to look to the future.

“Paediatric research is severely underfunded, yet there are still large gaps in our understanding of children’s conditions. We have huge ambitions to unlock the breakthroughs in children’s medicine that families need, from discovery through to treatment and cure.

“We approached Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity to explore a partnership. As a children’s charity with a strong reputation for funding national research, it felt like the natural home for Sparks.

“Together we can fund even more pioneering, national, research and we’re looking forward to this exciting next phase for Sparks.”

About the partnership

  • Sparks is a subsidiary of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, while retaining its own external brand identity and charity number. 
  • The Sparks research programme and fundraising activities continue under the Sparks name, and in April, we launched our first joint national call to fund up to £2m of research into complex and rare conditions affecting children.
  • Sparks continues to fundraise exclusively for child health research and to support projects nationwide, so you can be assured that your donations will only go towards paediatric research across the whole of the UK.
  • In order to put more money directly into research, Sparks now operates from the offices of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Sector support

The decision to partner was supported by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and the Institute of Fundraising (IoF).

Aisling Burnand MBE, Chief Executive of the AMRC (Association of Medical Research Charities) said: “The role played by charities in advancing medical research is vital. It is incredibly encouraging to see two strong and innovative charities share their resources to maximise what they can do for children with illnesses. By collaborating to meet the same aims GOSH Children’s Charity and Sparks will be able to speed up discovery to help more children.”

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising “It’s a positive development to see two well-respected and complementary organisations exploring how they can do more by working together. Collaboration across the sector should be welcomed where there is a natural fit and the decision by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Sparks to embark on a formal new partnership that will result in increased funding for research is only to be encouraged. It also makes sense for the charities’ donors and supporters to see a joined up approach and offers exciting new fundraising opportunities to raise more money that will fund life-changing research.”

A history of working together

Did you know that childhood arthritis was originally called Still's disease? It was named after George Still, who became clinical assistant at GOSH in 1894 and who researched childhood diseases from the outset, and identified it as a disease. 

Childhood arthritis is just one condition which GOSH and Sparks have been working together on for some time.

In 2005, Sparks began funding the CHARMS study, to investigate drug treatment in childhood arthritis. Although the study was funded by Sparks, many of the children involved in the recent Childhood Arthritis Response to Medication Study (CHARMS) project, came from GOSH. So the project could not have gone ahead without input from both Sparks and GOSH: an example of how natural it is for us to be working together in partnership.