By supporting Light a Birthday Candle for Lumos, you can help us change the lives of thousands of vulnerable children by raising vital funds to support our work in ending the systematic institutionalisation of children across Central and Eastern Europe.

Over a million children and young people live in large residential institutions across Central and Eastern Europe. Separated from their families and isolated from their community, they receive little human or emotional contact.

Year after year, the staff who look after them cannot provide the individual attention they need so desperately, meaning they don’t have the educational or social activities we take for granted, from attending school to marking each passing year by celebrating their birthday.

While some of these children will never know their actual date of birth, many institutions choose 1 June, International Children’s Day, as the day when all children have their ‘birthday’, further eroding their sense of individuality.

Light a Birthday Candle for Lumos aims to celebrate International Children’s Day and encourage people to host cake and candle themed fundraising events in honour of the thousands of children unable to have their own birthday parties.

Georgette Mulheir, Chief Executive of Lumos, talks about the Light a Birthday Candle campaign and why remembering these children is so important.

There are three main ways to get involved this year:


– make a donation: by simply clicking here to light a candle now

– bake and take: raise money in your workplace by creating some sweet treats for colleagues

– tea and cake: host a fund-raising afternoon tea for friends and family


This website has lots of fundraising ideas and inspirational tea party recipes donated by celebrity chefs including: BBC2 Something for the Weekend’s Simon Rimmer, renowned Kiwi restaurateur, Peter Gordon, food-writer and presenter, Celia Brooks Brown and top TV chef Phil Vickery.


We are working hard to ensure that all large, residential institutions are eventually closed and see children reunited with their families, placed in foster families or cared for in smaller group homes.


Please join us and help more children celebrate their birthday properly next year.


We believe that the institutionalisation of children is one form of child abuse that can be eradicated during our lifetime.


With your help, we can ensure that this goal becomes a reality.



Lumos is the charity founded by JK Rowling (below), which works to transform the lives of the one million children growing up in large, residential institutions and ensure all children are able to live in safe, caring environments.


Lumos works with governments, policy makers, practitioners and other civil society organisations to transform the health, education and social care systems for children and their families. The charity is currently operating in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Montenegro and the Republic of Moldova. In time, it will expand its work into other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Georgette Mulheir, CEO of Lumos, explains: “There are more than one million children across Central and Eastern Europe living in large, residential institutions; almost completely off the radar they are suffering various forms of abuse and deprivation, often in spite of the good intentions of those who initially established the institutions. We have to work together with governments and civil society to get them out of these places, make them visible and integrate them into families and communities. All children deserve the chance to be safe, to be loved, to be heard, and to develop to their full potential.”


How do we achieve this?


1. By being practical and strategic


* We are currently working on major reform programmes in the Czech Republic and Moldova.
* Lumos has also been providing advice and support to the European Commission in Brussels on the best way to use funding for reforming the child social protection system in Bulgaria. We are now setting up a major programme in the country to help accelerate and improve the process of de-institutionalisation.
* We also provide technical assistance to initiatives in other countries that are led by other agencies, such as our work with UNICEF in Montenegro.
* And we provide a range of professional resources – a telephone support service, toolkits, manuals – to practitioners working in countries to help them close down institutions, and replace them with high quality care.


2. By campaigning and advocating


* We provide expert advice at the highest level, including governments, United Nations bodies and European institutions.
* We facilitate peer-to-peer support, bringing together practitioners on the ground with practitioners in the UK to help give children childhoods.
* We work with children so they have a voice and are involved in the deinstitutionalisation process.
* We raise awareness, in the UK, in Europe and across the globe, so that, one day, no more children will be living in such institutions.


For more information on Lumos, please visit the charity’s website –