The Portuguese Republic, which hosts the westernmost point of the continent, is predominantly located in southwestern Europe, but also includes autonomous territories of the Azores and Madeira. Portugal has over 10.2 million inhabitants, with almost 70% living in urban centers and over 30% residing in rural communities. Lisbon, the capital, and most populous city is home to more than 500,000 people with over 3 million people living in the wider metropolitan area.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Portugal since the early 1960s.
Almost 20% of the population are at risk of poverty, with around 5% living in a state of severe deprivation. Children are disproportionately affected, with 26% of under 18s living in poor households and 12% facing extreme poverty. The situation is worse for island communities where the risk of poverty is around 30%. Growing up in poverty, children live precariously on the margins of society and at risk of social isolation. They are also more vulnerable to deprivation, where their basic needs can no longer be met.
Nationally, 1 in 10 people live in overcrowded homes, however, this leaps to 1 in 5, for people at risk of poverty. In addition, over 15% of people struggle to afford to adequately heat their homes, rising to over 30% for poor households. As a result, almost 40% of children in poor households are living in inadequate conditions. Not only do cold and crowded homes affect a child’s physical and mental health, but children may also not have an appropriate place to do homework.
More than 20% of children and young people do not achieve a minimum proficiency in reading or mathematics and almost 40% lack proficiency in both subjects, with students from poor backgrounds being most likely to struggle at school. The consequences of a poor educational background can be profound, from slower progress in learning, and restricted social and emotional development, to worse prospects for future employment as well as a greater likelihood of social exclusion and risk of poverty in adulthood.