Now that the decorations are packed away and Christmas is truly done with, we at Age in Spain are looking forward to the challenges of 2021.
We started 2020 with a new project in partnership with the UK Government, to help vulnerable UK nationals living in Spain to secure their residency rights under the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement. Our national Residency Helpline and outreach services have already directly helped more than a thousand people with information and one to one support. A small staff team and thirty volunteers provide the service and our caseload of people who face multiple barriers due to issues such as capacity, health, income, language or access to the internet, continues to grow.
For many UK citizens in Spain, the issue of residency still has not gone away. Many people began the process of becoming resident but are still waiting to conclude the process while others, not least because of the covid19-related delays, were unable to get appointments to even begin the process. The clear message from both the Spanish and UK Governments is that those who were legally living in Spain (ie they met the requirements to apply for residency and can demonstrate this with appropriate documentation) by 31 December 2020 can still apply for residency under the protection of the Withdrawal Agreement. However, we know that people’s “on-the-ground” experiences can vary widely and Age in Spain is still here to support people who need extra help with the residency process.
We are funded by the United Kingdom Nationals Support Fund to provide free support in the following regions: Catalonia, the Basque Country, Aragon, Navarra, La Rioja, Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia and the Balearic and Canary Islands. Our Regional Coordinator for the Balearic Islands is Giuseppe Monti, whom I know has already been in touch with many organisations on the islands.
People can contact the residency helpline on. +34 932 209 741 or email email@example.com
Please do spread the word that we are still here to help.
Our casework service continues to help those who face losing independence and we expect to see increases in referrals during 2021. We have developed new caseworker training and support systems to ensure that, despite continuing Covid 19 restrictions, we can continue to make assessments and coordinate care packages with other welfare organisations to provide the vital support to stop vulnerable people slipping completely through the net.
Friendline – our new telephone friendship service
As important as residency and welfare issues are to many, we are equally keen that Age in Spain continues to serve all English-speaking older people in Spain, whatever their nationality. In that context we are delighted to tell you about Friendline – our new telephone friendship service that we launched just before Christmas.
Friendship is one of the best ways to help people stay healthy and happy but sadly as we get older we often lose or lose touch with people and making new friends often gets harder. Of course, this is even more true as we live through the Covid19 pandemic.
Friendline connects people who would like a regular weekly call with trained volunteers who have similar interests. There is no threshold of “need” to become a Friendline member. If someone is over 60 and an English speaker then they qualify. One way to think of Friendline is as vaccination against loneliness and isolation – it helps prevent the negative impact.
Find out more about Friendline at www.ageinspain.org /friendline and help us reach more people. Here is a very brief video about Friendline that we have used to promote the service on social media.