THE British Consulate and the University of Birmingham launched a new website for older and more vulnerable foreign residents with useful information on how to get extra support and help last Wednesday.
At the well-attended event there were over 60 people from the different charities and voluntary groups that provide unstinting support for British nationals who are resident in Spain as well as those of other nationalities.
The launch was held in the district council offices in La Cala de Mijas and was led by British Consul – Andalucía, Charmaine Arbouin and Dr Kelly Hall of the University of Birmingham.
It was also an important opportunity for those present to hear about the latest news from the British Consulate in Malaga and network with other people working with older and more vulnerable people in southern Spain.
The project, called Support in Spain, is the result of a close cooperation between the British Consulate in Malaga and the School of Social Policy at the University. The project set out to research the issues older and vulnerable British people face while living in Spain and to suggest possible solutions to help prevent them becoming socially isolated in the future.
One of the conclusions of the study was the need to develop a website that includes all the contact information of the different voluntary groups and Spanish statutory authorities available, as well as helpful advice on common questions, such as how to secure extra social care, help for a disability or assistance with paperwork in Spanish.
Dr Kelly Hall of the University of Birmingham, who led the project, said: “Our research showed that many people on the Costa del Sol are facing the need to secure support and welfare as they get older while coping with limited finances and little understanding of the Spanish social security system.”
Kelly continued: “This website helps put all the information in one place and we can add to it and expand its coverage over time. We hope that everyone can use it, including even friends and family back in the UK and the charities working in Spain.
“We also wanted to publish the website in Spanish as well as English so that doctors, social workers and people’s Spanish-speaking neighbours can access information on English-speaking assistance for their patients or friends for the first time.”
Charmaine Arbouin, British Consul – Andalucía said: “It is exciting to see this project come to fruition. The challenge of an ageing population is as relevant to Britons living in Spain as it is to those back in the United Kingdom, although there is not always as much access to information here in Spain.
I recognise the incredible work done by so many volunteers across southern Spain to support foreign residents who are in need and I hope that this website is a useful support tool for them in their work.”
Charmaine continued: “Our message from the British Consulate in Malaga to UK residents is clear: Plan ahead for the future as you get older and know what you will do if something unexpected happens, for example when you lose a partner. Anyone can become vulnerable at any time and it is better to be prepared.”
Representatives of the groups attending the event were very interested in the website and also in meeting colleagues from different local charitable organisations.
There was lively discussion and debate on the challenges of an ageing population and what people can do to help themselves, such as the need for all UK residents, whatever their age, to stay registered on the local town hall ‘padron’ register in order to access benefits in the future.
The project was funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The content of the website currently covers Malaga province and the Costa del Sol.
Website address: supportinspain.info