Loneliness and isolation on the Costa del Sol

Loneliness on the Costa del Sol Photo: Shutterstock

Many of the 72,000 British people living on the Costa del Sol will end up alone and isolated. The British embassy is meeting with experts and the Junta de Andalucía to find solutions to the unwanted loneliness of many of their compatriots living in this province where the largest population in the region is located.

“They came to Malaga to retire. They bought a small house with their savings. Over the years, they have been left without their partner who has passed away and the result is that there are many British people who have been left alone, and this is also isolating them socially and familiarly”. The warning comes from the UK embassy in Spain, which has asked experts, such as the Professor of Social Work and Social Services at the University of Jaén, Yolanda María de la Fuente, to provide help and advice to find – together with public administrations such as the Junta de Andalucía – ways of helping their compatriots living in areas such as the Costa del Sol.

The situation of the British has changed

As De la Fuente explained in an interview with SER Málaga, “many of these elderly people – who arrived in Spain in more favourable economic conditions – are now alone. They face many difficulties: the language barrier, bureaucratic complexity, lack of cognitive capacity, and a very worrying social and family isolation. This is a population that urgently needs help”, says the professor.

The example of Mijas

The expert, who also holds a doctorate in law, admits that the town of Mijas, where there are more than 8,000 registered British citizens, “is at the forefront in working with this foreign population, they are proactive in the face of the difficulties that these people have, and are involved in participating in the community, but there are many more British people who urgently need help”. De la Fuente suggests, given the enormous difficulties with the language, that a 24-hour helpline should be set up in their language “to inform, advise and guide them on the problem they have and where they should be referred”, adds De la Fuente.

“They need a language that is easy to understand for people who, in many cases, are over 70 and 80 years old; that can also reduce the bureaucratic barrier they face with procedures that require many steps that make it difficult for them to carry them out or simply present an official document at an administrative window,” said the professor”. A digital divide has been created that has left them out”, she added.

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.