Summer 2016 Newsletter
Dear Friend of the British Benevolent Fund,
As the August heat descends and we turn to holidays and relaxation (well at least for some!) I would like to take the opportunity to update you on the activities of the British Benevolent Fund.
I am pleased to be able to report that the Fund is undergoing a period of welcome expansion and change. For the first time in its history the BBF is now an independent legal entity registered in Spain, and along with this change of status we are adjusting our modus operandi to cope with the growing need to provide help and assistance to British citizens living outside of Madrid. Rest assured that the objectives of the BBF remain the same, but in order to satisfy the increased demand for our services we are joining forces with partner organisations outside of Madrid. In addition to the British Consulates around Spain, and Age Concern España, with whom the BBF has had working relationships for many years, new partnerships have been created with HELP, in four coastal areas around Spain, and MABS Cancer Support, and a specific member of the Executive Committee has been nominated to oversee these relationships.
As a result of these actions, more cases are being presented to the BBF for consideration and the objective in the future will be to leverage these relationships effectively. At the time of writing the BBF has dealt with some 25 cases this year, over double those dealt with in 2015 (11), and has disbursed over €40000 in grants and aid. A particularly impressive statistic is the average length of time for a case to receive funds, some 9 days, which again underlines what we consider to be one of the Fund’s unique selling points, that is our ability to react quickly to requests for help. Although over 60% of our cases this year have been in the Alicante province, the Fund continues actively supporting the British community in Madrid as it has done since 1928 and it relies very much on this same group for its fundraising efforts. Do take a look at the Testimonials page on our website for some remarkable stories of how we have helped British Citizens overcome hardship and despair.
A further example of BBF innovation was the link up with Runnymede College in an initiative that allows students to earn points towards their Duke of Edinburgh´s Award. Students opting for social work within the Duke of Edinburgh Award are providing help and assistance to elderly people in the Madrid area who need additional support.
Two pupils from Runnymede College during one of their visits to Mr B, a Madrid resident.
According to Mr B. a resident of Madrid, these visits are a great help: “I look forward very much to my visits from young people, as it combines practical assistance for me living alone and provides refreshing conversations with the younger generation”.
Remaining with Runnymede College for just a little longer I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the parents, pupils and staff of Runnymede College for the hours of their time they have donated to raise funds for the BBF, their chosen charity for this academic year. Their incredible work has raised an impressive €8500 at the time of writing for which we are truly grateful.
The summer fete organised in conjunction with the Anglican Church of St. George’s was held again during the year. Originally conceived as an event to bring non-profit English speaking groups together, this year commercial stalls were introduced resulting in an increase in the variety of offerings. A further event is planned for 15th September, 2016.
The fourth annual fundraising concert at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes continued to be very successful, raising almost €6,000 and it will, again, be held on 27th October, 2016. The BBF is most grateful to the professional musicians who give of their time for free and to the commercial sponsors who this year were again Bodegas Martúe and Mahou joined by Diageo, Mallorca Catering and Mini.
Somewhat ambitiously the Fund also organised an additional concert in London to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the 23 April 2016, the day of her actual birthday. Although only modestly attended it served as a trailblazer for future events outside of Madrid, and with the experience gained we are confident that it can be repeated on a grander scale in 2017.
The Executive Committee are always looking for additional fundraising events as it is recognised that as the BBF reaches out to help more British citizens in Spain, so must its fundraising efforts, and therefore an additional concert in Spain is planned for 24 October 2016 in conjunction with King’s College the British School of Alicante.
A particular thank you is due to all the members of the Executive Committee. There is an active case support sub-committee frequently requiring quick decisions in support of individuals, and sub-committees devoted to marketing and events. Those members on these committees give of their time and expense without reimbursement. Without them the fund would not exist.
Many thanks for your continued support of the BBF which is very much appreciated.