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Celebrating ten years of Flying Start


Last year was a milestone year for Flying Start, British Airways’ global charity partnership with Comic Relief, as it celebrated ten years of helping disadvantaged young people achieve a brighter future. Throughout the past decade, Flying Start has raised more than £25m and supported more than 824,000 vulnerable people in the UK and around the world. Here, we take a look at some of its recent accomplishments.

A sporting chance

For Sport Relief 2020, 2,700 British Airways colleagues got in on the action by participating in a series of activities. One event saw a team of 92 volunteers (including Nicola Adams, Gabby Logan and Gary Lineker, pictured above) pull a 183-tonne Airbus 350 in an effort that even earned them a Guinness World Record. Others participated in the IFCE Trolley Dash, which saw cabin crew wheeling trollies around the streets of London. The Singapore team took part in badminton tournaments and 81 colleagues in Nairobi completed a marathon, clocking a combined total of 5,174 miles. These pulse-raising events, alongside many others, raised more than £65,000.

Home and Away 

Between 2019 and the end of 2020, more than £2m of Flying Start funds were invested in projects across the UK – as well as in India, South Africa and Ghana – that focus on early childhood development (ECD), which is all about giving children the best possible start in life.

As part of this, we teamed up to support the work of mothers2mothers in South Africa and Ghana.  mothers2mothers employs and trains local women living with HIV as community health workers called Mentor Mothers. They deliver support to pregnant women and new mothers living with, or at risk of, HIV as well as educating them, their children and families on accessing and staying in healthcare. In addition to supporting more than 5,300 women and infants in South Africa, Flying Start funds helped support the set-up of two new health facility sites in Ghana. At the end of the first year of operation, it has helped to reach more than 600 women and children and trained 12 Mentor Mothers.    

Group portrait of the British Airways sponsored 'Mothers to Mothers' project

British Airways and Comic Relief funded mothers2mothers in Ghana, whereby 12 local women living with HIV have been trained and employed as Mentor Mothers for the community

In India, our partnership is helping to enable a Delhi-based NGO called Butterflies work with the most vulnerable groups of children in India – those who work or live on the streets. Flying Start funds have supported projects in parts of Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala, Odisha and Jaipur, helping more than 2,400 children and young people to build life skills, overcome isolation and to improve mental and physical health through children’s cooperatives. 

Flying Start funds have also been hard at work in the UK, supporting projects to help ensure parents give their young children the happiest and healthiest start in life, and to help them reach their developmental potential up to their successful transition to primary school. 

This includes community grants to projects in Belfast, Liverpool, Macclesfield, Llandudno, Stirling, Scottish Borders, Devon and Penzance, which focus on early intervention by supporting maternal mental health and wellbeing, leading to positive mental health into parenthood. More than 1,000 women, including refugees and asylum seekers, have been assisted through training, services and peer groups.

British Airways plane with a red nose

A British Airways A320 dons a red nose for Comic Relief in 2019

In addition to this, Flying Start funds have supported organisations across London, Stockport & Tameside, Durham, Tyne & Wear and Renfrewshire, supporting families and helping children to deal with trauma and build resilience, including those who have come through the care system or live with their mothers in refuges. More than 1,900 people have benefited, including children, women experiencing domestic abuse, HIV and pregnant women, and families in deprived communities.


We are very proud of our partnership with Comic Relief and we will continue to support projects across the UK and around the world that help disadvantaged children and young people have the chance of a brighter future. The generosity of people during these difficult times as we navigate the global pandemic has humbled and inspired us. We extend a heartfelt thank you to all our customers and colleagues who have helped us raise over £25 million so far and we hope to raise even more vital funds in the year ahead.

For ideas on how to get involved with Flying Start, visit ComicRelief.com. Or if you would like to donate to Flying Start, click here