Lambeth has an incredibly large Portuguese-speaking community. Estimates put the figure at between 30,000-50,000 - 7% of all school students in the borough speak Portuguese, and Stockwell is known as ‘Little Portugal.’
Though we were not founded specifically to benefit the Portuguese-speaking community, we are aware that this is our local community, and have sought to serve them the best that we can. In fact, 2 members of BIGKID staff are Portuguese-speakers themselves. We have also become aware of the particular issues facing members of the Portuguese-speaking community, including domestic abuse, racism, alcohol abuse, isolation leading to mental health issues, and diabetes and obesity. We seek to address the root causes of these issues through our work.
In 2016, we were awarded funding by the London Community Foundation as part of their Portuguese-speaking Community Fund, to deliver a cohort of our Breaking Barriers Leadership Programme to the Portuguese-speaking community. As part of this programme, the participants had to present to a panel of judges to receive funding to deliver a community event. On the panel was Dr Vikesh Sharma, a local GP with great knowledge of the Portuguese-speaking community - in fact, we had been introduced to him by the LCF as he had also received funding through the same grants programme as BIGKID. Dr Vikesh presented to us an innovative idea - an organisation made up of different community groups, working together in Lambeth to advance the wellbeing of the Portuguese-Speaking community. Of course, we were instantly sold.
Just like that, the Lambeth Portuguese-speaking Wellbeing Partnership (LPWP) was born. Over the past two years over 40 local groups and community members have come together to create an innovative solution to the health and wellbeing inequalities among Lambeth’s Portuguese-speaking community. Though it is still in pilot stage, we are thrilled to be a part of an organisation sharing passion, knowledge and skills to improve wellbeing together.
The LPWP brings together local people, community organisations and health care staff to listen to each other and work together. The partnership projects help people to live healthier lives and remove the barriers they face accessing health and wellbeing services. So far, we have run community wellbeing events, created health videos and leaflets in Portuguese and arranged breakfast clubs. We are constantly listening to, and learning from, one another and the local community.
The reason the LPWP works is because all the partners have shared values. We are; inclusive, based on trust and relationships, respectful of the individual within a holistic context, action orientated, flexible and committed to partnership working, and we take a positive, aspirational approach to everything that builds on the strengths we already have. Ultimately, we consider ourselves a part of the community that we exist to serve.
It is an exciting time for the LPWP. Look out for us as we continue to redefine what it means to be a part of the community.
You can find out more about the LPWP here: https://lpwp.org