Ann Bateson talks about the BBF with the British ambassador Simon Manley
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The Importance of a Valid Passport
Every year the British Consulates in Spain are contacted by local authorities desperate to help British nationals who are living homeless in their area. The reasons for becoming homeless are varied, but the reality is that once on the streets these individuals are usually robbed of their possessions and left without any trace of their former lives, including their British passport. As a British resident in Spain your passport is the only legal proof of identification that you have. By law we should all carry identification with us at all times. More importantly, without proof of identification it is difficult for the Spanish authorities and social services to provide any state support.

Every year, at the request of the British Consulates, the BBF pays for the passport renewal of many British nationals who find themselves in dire circumstances in Spain. Through this service, these individuals are then able to access local state support and start to rebuild their lives in Spain.

“The British Consulate in Alicante has been contacted on many occasions by Spanish social services with regard to British nationals who are applying for financial assistance towards care costs. Sometimes these British nationals are not registered with local authorities and, in order to help them to do so, the first thing they need is a passport. When we’re not able to find family who might be able to assist with the cost of the passport, we have looked to the British Benevolent Fund. With their help to pay the cost of a new passport, these British nationals are a big step closer to getting the care they need.” – Elizabeth Bell, Vice Consul Alicante Consulate
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Gary & Angie – It Could Happen to Anyone!
Gary and Angie are a middle aged British couple who moved to Spain in the late 90s. Gary was employed full time and Angie, a fully qualified hairdresser, supplemented the income with odd jobs. Gary fell over in the bathroom on the wet floor and bashed against the sink, cracking one of his vertebrae in the process. He was hospitalised for 2 months with swelling on the brain and was left temporarily paralysed. On returning home he required full time care and Angie gave up her part time work to care for him. They relied on Spanish benefit payments and used up their own savings to sustain them during this period. Gary underwent several months of intensive physiotherapy to recover some movement, but will always have mobility issues and is unable to get around without a wheelchair.

Unable to continue on Gary’s disability benefits alone, Angie looked to return to work as a hairdresser but was unable to leave Gary as he could not get around by himself in a wheelchair. The couple was referred to The BBF by Help International Benidorm. We purchased a mobility scooter with full back support for Gary so he could move around unaided, allowing Angie to return to work.

“We are very happy and grateful to the BBF for all their help.” – Gary & Angie
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John – Caring for a Loved One
John and Laura came to Spain in the 90s and lived in semi retirement with a good monthly income, both on good pensions and doing part time work as artists. Life was good until Laura developed dementia and debilitating osteoporosis. For many years John cared for Laura at home and spent all their savings and income on ensuring she was comfortable with nurse support and medical equipment. When Laura passed away John was left with no savings and a reduced income from the loss of Laura’s pension. Now in his 70s returning to work was not feasible, so John looked to reduce his monthly expenses by downsizing to a smaller apartment.

The BBF gave John a grant to cover first month rent, deposit, agency fees and moving costs allowing him to move to a less expensive apartment which he could afford with his monthly pension.

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Michael – Making Life Livable
Michael has lived in Spain for over 25 years and met his Spanish partner Eduardo here. He worked as an English teacher until retirement. Both Michael and Eduardo receive only basic state pensions, so on retiring they downsized to a less expensive rural location where they were able to buy a small house in need of refurbishment. Michael continued to teach English to supplement their income until Eduardo suffered a stroke and Michael became his full time carer. This took significant toll on Michael who at 78 years old began to suffer health issues of his own, in particular failing eyesight and hearing, and struggled to manage on minimum income in a property with no heating and limited kitchen facilities. Michael’s friends became concerned about his mental health and contacted the British Consulate who referred him to The British Benevolent Fund.

We were able to fund a hearing aid and new spectacles for Michael. In addition we funded upgrades to the property to install heating and kitchen facilities to make it more livable.

Thanks From David
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Geoffrey and Leslie – Victims of Crime
Geoffrey and Lesley moved to Spain in 2004 when they were in their fifties, along with Geoffrey’s elderly Mother who was retired. The Mother received a healthy monthly pension, and Geoffrey and Leslie sold their property in the UK and downsized to a less expensive property in Spain. They invested the savings into a small business in Spain which provided them with an income. This business was initially successful but had to be closed down after the financial crisis in Spain. In addition Geoffrey’s Mother’s died and her pension payments ceased. They then fell prey to a British conman running a bogus business scheme to which they lost all their savings and their property.Now 64 years of age Geoffrey found it very difficult to find employment in an area with over 30% unemployment, so they applied for Spanish state benefits to tide them over until Geoffrey’s pension became due in a year’s time. They were granted benefit entitlement, but the system runs slowly in Spain and they had to wait over 3 months before benefit payments started. Unable to pay their rent they were facing eviction.

Geoffrey and Leslie were referred to The British Benevolent Fund by the British Consulate. We were able to provide Geoffrey and Leslie a grant to cover their rent and basic living costs for 3 months until the state benefit payments started, preventing them from becoming homeless during this time.

“Lee and I would like to thank you once again for your advice, help and friendly support. Please pass on our heartfelt gratitude to the BBF, together with our assurance that we will use their financial help as a stepping stone to a more secure future.” – Geoffrey
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David and Suzanna – Life After a Stroke
David and Suzanna have lived in Spain for 26 years. David is retired and receives a state pension and Suzanna would supplement the income with odd jobs. They lived inexpensively in rented accommodation in a rural location. They were referred to The British Benevolent Fund by Age Concern España after David suffered a stroke leaving him with significant disabilities and care needs. Suzanna became his full time carer but was struggling to cope as she does not drive and their apartment was not on the public transport routes. In addition the apartment was ill suited to David’s mobility issues.

The British Benevolent Fund provided a grant for a one-month deposit and agent fees on a new property to enable David and Suzanna to move to an apartment better located and better suited to David’s mobility needs. In addition we renewed their passports and provided David with a walker to help with his recovery.

“I wish to say to you, and especially to the BBF and the wonderful people who form the BBF how very much Dave and I appreciate the new chance they have so kindly given us and how big a difference they have already made to our lives, we can never thank you all enough, it is sad to have to ask for help, but when we had nowhere else to turn you were all there for us, and that is something we will never forget” – Suzi
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Catherine – Single Mother Struggling with Care Responsibilities

Catherine a single Mother with a teenage son was struggling to cope after she became the primary carer for her elderly Mother who suffered from Alzheimer´s. The British Benevolent Fund provided a grant to allow Catherine to move to more suitable accommodation for her Mother´s care needs, enabling them to live together until her Mother´s death several years later. Catherine returned to The British Benevolent Fund for support after severe rheumatoid arthritis made it impossible for her to continue in her job. Unable to find more appropriate work in Spain during the financial crisis The British Benevolent Fund helped Catherine and her son return to the UK where they both found good jobs, and were able to make a donation back to the British Benevolent Fund.

“We are immensely grateful to the BBF for their help and support. Without them, I really don’t know what would have happened to us.”– Catherine
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