British expat organisations on the Costa del Sol have welcomed news of a new website designed to offer support to older and vulnerable members of the community.
Support in Spain is an online guide aimed at British residents over the age of 50 as well as other foreign residents who may need extra help or advice.
The tool is the result of research carried out by Dr Kelly Hall, a lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham and specialist in international retirement migration, who was in Mijas on Tuesday for the launch of the project hosted by the local Foreign Residents Department.
Representatives of non-profit groups on the Costa del Sol, many of which bring together older members of the community, attended the event, among them Age Care, Age Concern, the Royal British Legion, Cudeca and U3A.
After a welcome by the Mijas Foreign Residents councillor, Roy Pérez, the British consul for Andalucía and the Canary Islands, Charmaine Arbouin, explained that the ageing expat population posed new problems for people in Spain to deal with, especially the need for care.
Accompanied by the two vice-consuls, Rosslyn Crotty and Dominic Jackson, as well as consular officers, Arbouin explained that they had approached Dr Hall in order to establish exactly what the issues faced by older and more vulnerable residents are and how to advise them.
“We are going to launch a new project that hopefully will make a difference to people's lives,” said the consul.
Funding obtained through the University of Birmingham helped get the project under way, with the aim of solving what Dr Hall had identified as one of the main problems experienced by older expats in Spain.
“People don't know who to turn to when in need of support,” said the researcher, adding that the Support in Spain website, which went live on Tuesday, would answer questions about what help and benefits are available either from the Spanish authorities or through other organisations.
The website itself has been created by marketing consultant Neil Hesketh of Spanish Approach, who showed guests how to navigate the site which he described as “simple” and “informative”.
He stressed that the website was not just aimed at older people needing help, who may not have access to internet in many cases, but also at their relatives, friends, neighbours or even GPs and social workers.
All the information has been translated into Spanish so that local people can also find out about what benefits foreign residents are entitled to, and what help and support is provided by non-profit organisations.
Hesketh pointed out that the site was a fluid, dynamic resource that could be updated at any time. He explained that links to the websites of other organisations were active and that the information could be easily printed out and consulted on a mobile phone.