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.