A group of foreign-resident volunteers at a fundraising event in spring this year. SUR
Inland palliative care charity expands professional team

Inland palliative care charity expands professional team

One of the founders of Asociación Girasol, which serves the Antequera area including Mollina, Fuente de Piedra and Alameda, was a British woman

Jennie Rhodes

Jennie Rhodes


Friday, 18 August 2023, 16:39


An association providing support to people with advanced incurable illnesses and their families in the inland Antequera area is expanding its group of professionals and volunteers.

Asociación Girasol (Sunflower association) is a registered charity that supports and improves the quality of life for patients, carers and families in Alameda, Mollina, Fuente de Piedra, Humilladero and other towns and villages in the area in the north of Malaga province.

It was set up in 2011 by Catherine Groome, a British woman who was living in the area when she was diagnosed with cancer and found that there was little support for people living with the illness.

Catherine founded the association with the help and support of two Spanish doctor friends. The current president, Isaru de la Piedra Torres, got involved with the association as a volunteer in the early days while he was still a student. Catherine has since gone back to the UK to live.

Isaru, who has a PhD in Psychology, explained that while the majority of people who use the association's services are Spanish, there are a number of British and other English-speakers in the towns and villages that the association covers. "There are foreign communities in all of the villages we cover, but at the moment I would say that 85 per cent of our users are Spanish."

Auxiliary nurse

The association is currently looking to recruit an auxiliary nurse to its small team of professionals, who either speaks English or Spanish, or both, according to volunteer Kate Perkes.

Kate and husband Steve have been volunteering with the association since it was set up in 2010, providing services including transport for patients, carers and families to hospital appointments and interpreting. Kate highlighted that the organisation received support from hospice foundation Cudeca when it was setting up.

Although the couple stepped down from active volunteering in December 2022, Kate is still on the board. "It's nice to still be able to support the association," Kate told SUR in English.

Among its services, Asociación Girasol loans equipment to users, provides home care and weekly day care at its headquarters in Alameda (in the former Casa de la Cultura). The association also works closely with the palliative care team at Antequera's hospital.

"Every case is different and some people need more or less care depending on their needs," explained Kate.

Fundraising comes through activities and events including market stalls, coffee mornings, fashion shows as well as individual donations. It has a network of around 40 volunteers, who are mainly Spanish and British. "Everyone works together," Kate said.


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