Prince Charles visits Dexters playground on Railton Road

prince talks to young people

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, today (4 May) met local young people at the Dexters playground on Railton Road in Brixton.

They discussed issues including youth mental health that leads to violent crime and possible solutions.

Prince Charles also spoke to mentors and supporters of BIGKID, the charity that runs the playground

He was welcomed to Railton Road by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London Sir Ken Olisa, patron of the BIGKID foundation.

prince meets mayor
Sir Ken Olisa introduces Lambeth mayor Annie Gallop and local MP Helen Hayes

He met Shaninga Marasha, BIGKID’s CEO and founder and Helen Marasha, its development director, and watched some of the activities offered by BIGKID including healthy eating, sports, forestry and gardening.

Shaninga Marasha founded BIGKID in 2000 when he was a sixth form student.

He started a mentoring programme for young people at his school who were at risk of exclusion and on their final warning.

After two years of working with ten mentors and ten mentees, eight out of ten mentees remained in school and were re-introduced to the main school population.

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Shaninga Marasha with Prince Charles

While at university, Shaninga and three friends came together with a shared vision: to change the world one kid at a time.

They began as a music crew, growing gradually and recruiting volunteers to help the project to move in a more proactive direction. Their aim was to engage young people through their music.

Over time, the focus shifted from music to workshops and activities that taught important life skills which paved the way for the BIGKID Foundation, established in 2008, which began to receive recognition and awards for its work.

The foundation is now a youth and community charity with a mission to end social exclusion and youth violence, working with more than 1,200 young people a year.

prince meets people
Sir Ken Olisa (left) introduces Shaninga and Helen Marasha

Key projects are community engagement, mentoring and Breaking Barriers, a leadership programme for young people at risk of exclusion or otherwise vulnerable due to mental health or wellbeing concerns.

The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF) supported the BIGKID Foundation in 2016 and 2018 with grants towards its girls’ football programme as well as the Football & Breaking Barriers programme.

Both projects engaged 150 young people aged from 11 to 19 living in areas of high deprivation in Lambeth.

prince waves to audience

BIGKID also engaged many young people during lockdown with its no-contact American football project.

Dexters was leased to the BIGKID foundation by Lambeth council on the condition that it is used for social impact.

It is named for the former Dexter Road, which once connected Railton Road to Talma Road, which runs parallel and to the west of it. The area was part of the Brixton “frontline”.

Following the 1981 Uprising when the area was extensively damaged, Dexter Road was closed by new housing and became Montego Close. See more at the Make It In Brixton website.

prince tours playground with audience
prince Charles
prince speaking
prince looks at art
prince leaves playground