Extraordinary spirit: British Benevolent Fund grabs attention at Costa del Sol launch event

Extraordinary spirit: British Benevolent Fund brings grabs attention at Costa del Sol launch event

Extraordinary spirit: British Benevolent Fund brings grabs attention at Costa del Sol launch event. Image: EWN

ON Wednesday, March 22 more than 50 of the Costa del Sol’s hardest working charity workers came together for an extraordinary display of community spirit.

With representatives from 15 charities, the Charities United Event at Club La Naranja, Calahonda, brought local organisations and politicians together to support the British Benevolent Fund as it shines a light on the amazing work it does to help Brits in need.

Founded more than 100 years ago to help Britons in Spain when they are at their lowest ebb, the BBF one-off payments to Britons in Spain in dire need of financial help.  While not every case will be eligible, these payments can help in some life’s darkest moments, including with funeral payments or repatriation costs.

Members of the La Cala Lions, Soroptomists, Collective Calling, Age Concern, and many other charities, as well as councillor Bill Anderson and Vice Consul at the British Consulate Miriam Velez Martin were all on hand for what proved to be the biggest of the BBF’s launch yet on the Costa del Sol.

Sponsored by the Euro Weekly News, the event saw attendees nibble on EWN cupcakes while discussing important local topics.

As well as showing their support, charity representatives also met to discuss how they could work together to make sure no local vulnerable people ever fall through the cracks.  As one of the only organisations to offer direct funding when all else has failed, it is vital that the BBF works with other charities to find out where the need is greatest.

The charity’s event’s organiser, Jenny Kaka, said: “We all come to Spain for a great life, but some people’s dreams end in nightmares.

“Sometimes people ask how those in need have got themselves into these situations. But we know that sometimes people just need a last resort, and we are a charity of last resort.”

Among those speaking at the event about the importance of community was Euro Weekly News founder Michel Euesden, who said: “We’re about a community of people.  Many of us have fabulous support, whether friends, family or others.  But not everyone does and not everyone has the language or money to change that.

“This is where the British Benevolent Fund come in.  They offer straight forward help when people really need it and we’re proud to be able to give a platform to it.”

Talking to the EWN about the event, Paul Carr, founder of Collective Calling, said: “We came into contact with the BBF with a few cases we’ve been dealing with.

“We think it’s really important that all charities come together so we can understand about each one’s capacity to offer more services for those in need in the community.”

Sandie Tavendale, the Alzheimers and dementia coordinator for the La Cala Lions, told the EWN: “It’s good that we all keep in touch with each other. We’ve just started up a workshop for Alzheimers and dementia and we know other charities are interested in getting involved so this is useful to meet each other.”

Meanwhile, Miriam Velez Martin from British Consulate, which works closely with the BBF, explained how the consulate can help Britons in need. She said their team has three main branaches of work; providing consular assistance, prevention work, and crisis management.

She explained consular assistance depends on the vulnerability level of the person requesting help and covers everything from issuing emergency passports to helping victims of serious crime, providing hospital visits, assisting those who have been arrested, and helping when people go missing.

Mijas councillor Bill Anderson also spoke at the event, saying: “Being brutally honest I didn’t know what the BBF did until I interviewed Jenny for my radio show. Jenny said this morning this is a charity of last resort but that’s when people need us most.

In Mijas we have the second largest population on Brits, around 9,000. Most of us are getting older. We are seeing an ageing population and for some people who’ve been here a while they used to get able to live on their pensions but things have got more expensive. A lot people are now struggling to survive on their pension.

“Now, if a spouse dies and they were struggling to pay their rent on two pensions they are finding it even harder to only have one. Maybe they decide it’s time to go back to the UK but they don’t have the money.

“Together with the consulate, the BBF is able to get them back to the UK.

“This is all part of being community. That’s why I’m happy to be part of not just the council hut the community”

For more information on the British Benevolent Fund, or to donate, visit www.britishbenevolentfund.org.

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