BIGKID was formed in 2000 by Shaninga Marasha, who - while still in sixth form - started a mentoring programme for the young people at his school who were at risk of exclusion and on their final warning. After 2 years of working with 10 mentors and 10 mentees, 8 out of 10 mentees remained in school and were reintroduced into the main school population.
While at University, Shaninga - along with three friends - came together with a shared vision: to change the world one kid at a time.
In 2005, the group travelled to Liverpool and participated in "street walks," where they approached people in deprived areas, challenging them to make positive changes in their lives. This experience ignited a new fire in the group and inspired their grassroots approach.
Following a Black History Month workshop at St Mary’s Primary School in 2006, BIGKID shifted its focus from music to workshops and activities that taught important life skills. In 2008, we received charitable status and began delivering workshops throughout London.
The programmes were going well, but we found that young people were no longer as interested in music, but would do anything to play a bit of football. So we adapted our programme to offer football - rather than music - leadership workshops.
BIGKID's football program grew rapidly, and over two years, we went from working with 20 young people to close to 400. Today, BIGKID's community engagement, leadership, and mentoring programmes reach over 2,500 young people annually. Our first-ever community hub, Dexters, serves as a base for our youth club, adventure play, and gardening sessions. Through our youth-led approach, we ensure that we always respond to local needs and the interests of our young people.
We have ambitious plans to establish hubs in Hounslow and Lewisham to reach a whole new set of and help them discover and realise their potential.