Research Shows 63,000 eligible for Wishes

Posted on 29th Apr 2021

The number of children in the UK who are eligible for a wish has doubled in the last 15 years, and it's increasing, according to research commissioned by Make-A-Wish UK and released to mark World Wish Day on 29th April.

Right now, there are 63,296 children and young people in the UK who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening or life-limiting condition.

In England alone, that number could rise from 53,472 in 2018/19 to as many as 73,273 by 2030.

The research, by a team based primarily at the University of York, also showed that these critical conditions are more prevalent in children aged three to seven; in Pakistani communities; in areas of high deprivation; in the North of England and are 10% more common in boys. The most prevalent of those conditions is neurological, following by respiratory.

To meet this increased need, alongside the backlog of wishes waiting due to Covid-19 restrictions, Make-A-Wish is asking the public to help them create hope for these children by donating this World Wish Day, and beyond.

The charity is also adapting its working model to enable communities of volunteers to help grant wishes in their local area, or within their networks. Make-A-Wish has created an online Wish Map so that anyone can see where there’s a wish waiting near them and help to grant it where possible.

Celebrity supporters Stephen Mulhern, Mo Gilligan, Saffron Barker, Bear Grylls, Hannah Cockroft and Millie Bright are backing the campaign, and have talked to wish children to find out more about the impact of illness, and the hope that wishes create.

In one of those recorded online meets, Stephen Mulhern performed a magic trick – turning a £5 note into £50 - and was given a Catchphrase clue to decipher by wish child Griff Crowther, 12, from North Wales.

29th April every year marks the anniversary of the day the first wish in the world was granted.

A wish creates hope because, in the words of Leeds student Jakob, who is waiting for his wish to have a bespoke guitar to be granted: “Hearing that I could have a wish was just the best feeling in the world... Knowing that someone acknowledged my pain; someone saw my pain; someone heard about my pain, and they were willing to help me out and make me feel good about my life was just the best.”

To help create hope this World Wish Day, donate it, activate it or bake it by visiting and follow the charity on social media @makeawishuk

Influencers and Gaming Brands Unite to Grant 100 Wishes

Gaming influencers GaGOD, Beardageddon, It’s Tegan and InDeeDee are just some of the big names who are livestreaming to raise money for Make-A-Wish UK.

They’re all taking part in “Wish 100 Week” from 19th July – a campaign which unites gaming brands, fundraisers and influencers in the challenge to raise £200,000 through livestreams and donations. That’s enough money to grant around 100 wishes to seriously ill children.

Businesses that have also committed funds towards #Wish100Week include Sports Interactive, which has an in-game advert for the campaign, Miniclip, Ten Square Games, Codemasters, Hutch, MTG, Aream, Fusebox, Venatus, Curve Digital and Stillfront.

It’s an urgent fundraising drive after hundreds of wishes were put on hold during the pandemic and after research showed 63,000 young people in the UK are eligible for a wish right now because of their diagnosis. That figure is set to grow.

Wishes to have consoles, PCs and equipment have been possible to grant during lockdown, but they’ve also becoming more popular because they aid wellbeing.

For 12-year-old Lukasz Okoro, for instance, the virtual reality headset that he wished for helps him to cope with kidney dialysis three times a week.

Lukasz, from Musselburgh in Scotland, was born with kidney problems and had a transplant from his dad Louis when he was just four years old. Life went back to normal for five years but then his renal condition returned and damaged that new kidney.

He developed antibodies which mean his chances of finding a successful new kidney match are less than one in 10,000. Now he’s back on having dialysis.

His mum Paulina said: “Every time Lukasz has dialysis in Glasgow, the hospital Play Specialist brings him some arts, crafts and games to help him through the four hours of treatment. Play specialists are amazing. Their job isn’t just to bring toys to children. Any time that Lukasz had an issue dealing with medical procedures, the play specialist helped immensely. They are trained in knowing the techniques to distract children. For example, after his transplant he had to get bloods done once a week and it’s amazing how quickly he has overcome his fear of the needle with some ‘Finding Waldo’ and some bubbles!”

It was play specialist Lauren who referred Lukasz to Make-A-Wish UK. When it came to choosing his wish and talking it through with two of charity’s volunteer Wish Visitors Kim and Lesley, Lukasz had lots of ideas like having a den or playhouse in the garden. But having something fun to do while he had medical appointments was most important and that’s when he decided to wish to have a virtual reality headset.

Wishgranter Debbie got to work ordering Lukasz the headset and accessories he needed. Now Lukasz can keep active at home by playing virtual games, like swiping at blocks that appear to be floating through the air. But he can also socialise with his friends through it and enjoy being immersed in films and games while getting the vital health care he needs.

Paulina said: “Lukasz’s wish is a great tool that helps him cope with his condition. Having your wish granted helps any child cope with the treatment they’re having. The run up to having their wish granted is also a good distraction because they’re thinking about it and planning it. In Lukasz’s case, he ended up having an item that takes his mind off treatment. Then, because a wish is something the family can’t create, it feels super special when it happens. During Covid, it has been amazing how much Make-A-Wish has achieved.”

Lukasz’s story is helping to highlight the charity’s campaign which anyone can join by watching streams and donating, or by registering their own livestream or gaming challenge here:

Anyone who raises more than £100 will get a campaign t-shirt and those who raise £250 through their fundraising page have the chance to be entered into a prize draw to win a PS5. Terms and conditions apply.

To find out more about how wishes can help, subscribe to the Make-A-Wish newsletter here or follow the charity on social media @makeawishuk

Media contact

Joanne Porter
07739 661320
Make-A-Wish UK, 7th Floor, Thames Tower, Station Road, Reading, RG1 1LX

About Make-A-Wish UK

Make-A-Wish was established in the UK in 1986 to provide the opportunity for children aged 3-17 yrs, who have been diagnosed with a critical illness, to choose and plan a special experience when so much else is dictated to them by medical treatment. A wish provides hope, something positive to look forward to and the chance to be a child first and a patient second. 

The organisation, based in Reading, receives no Government funding - registered charity numbers 295672 in England and SC037479 in Scotland - and currently has 2,000 wishes on hold because of the coronavirus.

Notes to editors

As some children and young people are not made aware of the exact nature of their diagnosis and to respect families’ own approach to their situation, we ask that the phrase ‘terminally ill’ is not used and that terms like critical or serious illness are used instead.  

Please refer to us as Make-A-Wish® UK in the first instance to distinguish us from affiliates in other countries. Thereafter ‘Make-A-Wish’ is suitable.

Please hyperlink to our website ( when you mention Make-A-Wish online.

You can also find us on social media @makeawishuk