TLG Portugal

'Crescer com Amigos' – a financially independent Voluntary Association in Portugal who have brought the support of the TLG Early Intervention programme to 50 struggling children during 2021.   

TLG Early Intervention was piloted in the UK in 2010 and we immediately saw the difference volunteer coaches could make regularly supporting children before their problems got worse. Aware of the same needs being faced by children in other countries, TLG have always been open to the possibility of sharing what’s working here in the UK.  In 2012 we were able to host a visit to the UK by Alfredo Abreu, Executive Director of ‘Serve The City’ – a not for profit Association based in Portugal.  

As is always the case in any new venture, finding the pioneering leaders is one of the most crucial parts. Alfredo‘s visit was closely followed by a trip to the UK by Joana Gama - a nursery school teacher with a big heart for struggling children. Our conversations with Alfredo and Joana led to the launch in September 2014 of a pilot programme for TLG‘s coaching programme in Lisbon. To highlight the focus on supportive relationships, we chose to name the programme ‘Crescer com Amigos’ (Growing With Friends). We were really interested to see the extent to which volunteers would be willing to give their time and be trained to provide support, and we were keen to see how this offer would be received by schools. 

What has followed has been truly remarkable! Joana Gama was joined by her friend Sarah Moura and together these inspiring two leaders pioneered ‘Growing with Friends’. Volunteers have stepped forward, schools have seen the need, and funding has been provided by Portuguese Hope Givers – generous ordinary people giving small amounts monthly to enable children to be helped.  After an initial pilot phase, growing with friends has become an independent not-for-profit Association partnering with local churches who provide volunteers who are then hosted by schools. We’ve had the immense privilege of seeing a number of children struggling in school, supported to express their emotions and talk about their difficulties. We’ve seen children facing difficulties such as bereavement, illness, poverty and change at home, supported to a place of being able to settle to learn and engage in school again.   

TLG UK have provided training, shared resources and the support systems to enable volunteers to be with children each week. The Crescer com Amigos not-for-profit Association has a big vision for struggling children all across Portugal. Under the leadership of Marisa Bossa as Executive Director, the small team, which continues to include the original pioneers Joana and Sarah, is pressing ahead to make new connections with churches, schools, volunteers and donors who have a heart to bring help to children who struggle in Portugal.  With the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and emotional wellbeing for children, the support of Growing with Friends is for such a time as this in the lives of children in the UK and across Portugal.   

Henrique, 10 years old

My coach always supported me and when I needed it, he helped me not to give up. - Henrique, 10 years old