Jenny Kaka, Deborah Simon, Olaf Clayton, Alison Farmer and Lynda Woodin. / SUR

British Benevolent Fund extends its reach on the Costa del Sol

The fund, founded more than 90 years ago, aims to provide financial help to British citizens in distress who are without any other recourse

COSTA DEL SOL.

The British Benevolent Fund (BBF), one of the oldest English-speaking charities in Spain, has extended its presence on the Costa del Sol. It is part of a long-term strategy for the fund to expand its partnerships in the region and offer its services to the local community.

The Madrid-based fund, which is an independent association with an all-volunteer committee, held its first event on the Costa del Sol last month. The meeting was held at the Cerrado del Águila Golf Club in Mijas and was attended by members of Age Concern, Cudeca, The Lions Club, Age in Spain and Support in Spain among many others. Also present were chair of the fund Olaf Clayton and the British consul for Andalucía and the Canary Islands, Charmaine Arbouin, who said, "I am delighted to welcome the BBF to the Costa del Sol."

With HM Ambassador Hugh Elliott as honorary patron, the BBF works closely with the British consular network.

"Covid has made things more difficult for those for whom times were already tough, so the support of organisations like the BBF has been invaluable. That's why I am so glad that you are extending your reach to the south of Spain. I and colleagues in the Malaga consulate look forward to working closely with you in the years to come," the consul added.

Financial assistance

The BBF, which was founded more than 90 years ago, aims to provide financial help to British citizens in distress who are without any other recourse.

The fund now hopes to build new networks and branches in areas along the coast where the British community reside. The committee consist of volunteers who give their time, experience and professional knowledge to raise, manage and use funds for the benefit of those in adverse situations.

Increase in demand

The pandemic has caused a significant increase in the number of cases dealt with by the fund, with a rise from 44 cases in 2019, to 130 in 2020. The fund has dealt with more than 200 cases so far this year.

The financial grants cover a wide range of requests such as medical expenses, help with utility bills, residency applications and repatriation costs among other things.

Engaging with the community

Chair of the fund Olaf Clayton told SUR in English that the fund "engages with the community to which it aims to serve".

"Anyone who faces extreme financial distress can apply for assistance. We bill ourselves as the charity of last resort when either state or private financial provision is not available. We seek wherever possible that the grant will enable someone to get out of an extreme situation and continue with their lives," he said.

The association has seen a sharp rise in cases of those wanting to return to Britain following the UK's exit from the EU.

"We help those that need help in repatriation who don't have the access to funds to pay for things like flights and passports.

"There is also the twin challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit, which have impacted us all, but in many ways it has also been the spur for the community to come together and help each other: The BBF is rising to this challenge and will do its bit," Clayton explained.

The charity also offers help to those who have lost loved ones that are not in a situation to fulfill legal requirements, and to sufferers of domestic abuse by providing the means to start new lives in a safe environment.

In order to apply for a financial grant from the BBF, the applicant must be a British national (holder of a British passport) or a dependent of a British national. Ultimately, the BBF looks to fund solutions that put possible clients in a position to live independently and it will consider all applications where the British citizen can clearly demonstrate that they are in genuine need in Spain and that they do not have the financial resources to resolve the problem themselves.

"We have a case support committee; all cases are treated confidentially and with understanding. Once approved monies are transferred immediately," Clayton said.

For more information, see www.britishbenevolentfund.org/applyforagrant

The BBF's next event on the coast is a Halloween party in the Big Fish restaurant in La Cala de Mijas on Friday 30 October. Tickets cost 20 euros and are available from www.britishbenevolentfund.com