Words by Smiley Team
A new non-profit YouTube channel created specifically for Ukrainian children displaced by the war will launch across the UK and Europe this summer.
Featuring up to 200 hours of Ukrainian and British content, Sunflower TV has been designed to offer entertainment and respite for the children of Ukrainian refugees who have been forced to flee their homes
Launching on 1 July, initially with about 50 episodes, it will include a range of dubbed British children’s programmes such as Peppa Pig, Go Jetters, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, Thomas & Friends, Mr Bean: The Animated Series, Jojo and Gran Gran, and Kit and Pup. The channel will also feature shows produced by Ukrainian producers with titles like Brave Bunnies and Eskimo Girl.
Co-ordinated by PACT, the UK trade body representing the UK’s screen sector, a range of organisations have pulled together to set up the dedicated channel offering programmes for young Ukrainian children who now find themselves living in the UK and Europe as a result of the war and children still in Ukraine.
“It’s difficult to imagine the trauma Ukrainian children have suffered as a result of being cruelly uprooted from their homes and communities only to find themselves thousands of miles away living in a country where nothing is familiar," said PACT’s Chief Executive John McVay.
“Hopefully Sunflower TV can go just a little way in providing them with some kind of light relief or distraction to take their minds off the terrible experiences they’ve been through, even if only momentarily.”
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The Ukrainian Institute London is one of many Ukrainian organisations supporting the initiative, providing hands-on advice about how to support the needs of Ukrainians arriving in the UK, and a key principle of the channel is that Ukrainian kids should have free access to enjoy popular UK TV shows - but in their native tongue.
Director of the Ukrainian Institute London, Dr Olesya Khromeychuk, said: “Millions of Ukrainian families have been displaced as a result of Russia's war against Ukraine.
“Children who have lost their homes, friends, and relatives will certainly benefit from having at least some sense of familiarity by being able to access materials in their native language. And it is important that children don't feel their own language is being drowned out as they start rebuilding their lives away from home.”
The project has received support from a range of key organisations in the creative industries including production companies, broadcasters, distributors and content creators both in the UK and in Ukraine. Organisations involved include: Aardman, All3Media; Banijay; BBC and BBC Studios; Channel 4; Channel 5’s Milkshake!; S4C; Entertainment One; FILM.UA, Fremantle; Glowberry; ITV and ITV Studios; Little Dot Studios; Mattel; Paramount and Nickelodeon; Sky; Starlight Media in Ukraine; STV and YouTube.
More content, such as Enjie Benjy, will continue to be added after the launch date, including additional shows aimed at six to 11-year-olds, increasing to around 200 hours, available for Ukrainian pre-teens in the UK and across Europe.
Other organisations are also urged to make contact if they have content they can offer towards to the new channel.
John McVay added: “Everyone involved has given up their time and rights to their content for nothing and I’m hugely grateful to the support and enthusiasm all parties have shown in making this happen. It really shows that the creative industries can be a force for good.
“The most important thing is to get Sunflower TV up and running and to make sure Ukrainian families in the UK are aware of this resource for their children.”