Guardian Angels

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STANDFIRST: Life for ex-pats in Spain can be wonderful though even continual sun can pall. Grandchildren can be a thousand miles away and for some, one glass of wine can become a bottle.

Charity work often plugs that gap and their fundraisers make for an extremely varied social scene. Lack of publicity though can be crippling, they can’t spend all their profits in advertising so Euro Weekly News are stepping in to help. Our regular new feature Charities’ Corner will spotlight a charity, tell you about forthcoming events, report on ones you may have missed and tell you about opportunities to get involved.

Guardian Angels in flight

Louise is an attractive thirty-something, doesn’t have SINGLE PARENT stamped across her forehead and is certainly not one of life’s losers but it was apparent she needed help – and thanks to the Guardian Angels Organisation, she is now getting it.

Her marriage finally broke apart in March after years of abuse. Her husband left her with five children, his accumulated debts, mental scars across the entire family and a broken arm. The rent was in arrears, electricity and water bills were overdue and threats of disconnection had already been served. The children were cowed and quiet after their lifetime of threats, they did not qualify for Health Care and the larder was bare.

In the UK, Social Security would rush in proffering advice, money, even a new home if necessary – but not in Spain. Here it has always been expected that your family would help but both her parents had died back in the UK, Spain was now her home, her children were settled in the Spanish School system and she had nowhere else to go. Would you have known how to handle it?

Guardian-Angels--13_webHow do you fend off eviction, stop suppliers cutting essential services or access Health Care? What if your Spanish in not perfect? And what would you do when in the depths of a dark night you sit despairing and alone? Louise’s husband had always forbidden friends, only a couple of ladies sometimes met for a quick coffee, they had even taken their rare holidays in almost inaccessible rural locations.

That’s when she found Guardian Angels, Spanish Charity CIF G53894549 www.guardian-angels.es founded by Tricia Barr a high-voltage Scot and currently operating in the Javea–Oliva area of the Costa Blanca to help Single Parents of either sex. They have Professionals such as a Doctor, a Lawyer and a qualified counsellor (but they really do need a Dentist) who volunteer their services either free or at reduced rates and Mentors to help in those dark hours. How far can anyone go without a friend?

Women left alone are particularly vulnerable. Health Care usually comes through the husband’s job, Bank accounts may be in the husband’s name and the husband’s counter signature is often required on official forms. Difficult if he is threatening.

Guardian Angels helped with Legal advice and now there is a restraining Court order to at least keep them physically safe. Her husband recently emailed her to calmly state that he was coming back to stay and with an unknown friend. That would be her worst fear and the children’s terrors were reawakened. Louise has a job now (though as yet without contract) and so still without her own Health Care. But she is certain that will eventually come.

Members call on different levels of help. Some need only Professional advice while others rely more heavily on the available coffee mornings, childminding, financial planning, confidence boosting workshops and one-to-one counselling. 

Guardian-Angels--65_webOne of their most popular events though are the fun days like that on Javea’s Arenal Beach in August where families mixed and played just like regular families. You can see from our pictures how much the children enjoyed it. Louise told me that after one such event when they met a very compatible family, her son asked incredulously if they were Single Parent as well? As if that was a disease or deformity.

This is not one of those charities that consume money like firewood, volunteers do most of the work but Tricia does have a small (very small) emergency help fund and they always provide the food on fun days.

But they do need to raise money and they do need help, Tricia even plans a money-raising Calendar if she can find a sponsor and outlets to sell them for her, plus perhaps a drop-in Centre such as the Samaritans have at Laura’s @Westbeach restaurant in Calpe’s Avenida de Gabriel Miró.

Their next fund-raiser will be at the El Cid restaurant in Benidoleig on 1st October for fish and chips and live music – for a regular café price of €10.

Tricia describes her creation as a free franchise and plans to help others to set up similar groups throughout Spain. Now Lesley Ellis 96 587 4387 is about to start in the Calpe-Benidorm area. How about your area?

Come on Charities, tell us about yourselves, your forthcoming events and the help you need. Email Ron Williams at [email protected]

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