Town halls encouraged to support expats

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JOINING FORCES: Councillors representing foreign residents meet with the British Consulate team

The British Consulate is strengthening ties with local town halls and encouraging further support for expats.

British Consul Sarah-Jane Morris met councillors for EU residents from towns across the province with a high number of British and non-Spanish nationals to discuss ways of offering them greater support.

It was an opportunity for the consulate team to give the councillors an insight into the British system to help them further understand why expats maybe don’t understand Spanish procedures such as registering on the padron and the need to carry passports.

In being able to understand where British residents are coming from, it is hoped the town halls will be able to implement more methods of guiding them in their life in Spain.

Discussions were also held on the benefits and issues that come from having a high number of British nationals living in their towns. All the councillors agreed that the foreign residents are more likely to volunteer than their Spanish counterparts and as such are a positive addition to where they live, although more still needs to be done to help them learn Spanish and encourage them to register on the padron.

The meeting, which was held at the Red Cross headquarters in Alicante also gave councillors the chance to learn about a recently-signed collaboration agreement between the British Embassy and Red Cross, which seeks to enable easier access to Red Cross services for English speakers and encourage volunteering within the British community.

The Red Cross announced that an English speaking email and phone number for enquiries and contact will soon be up and running as part of this agreement. Councillors said a priority for them was working closely with local charities and English speaking associations to help their residents. Many of them explained that they already do this, and those that didn’t committed to making contact with the ones in their area to work together and give them more support.

British Consul Sarah-Jane Morris said: “Getting the councillors together has been really beneficial and the meeting was organised as part of our long term project to get Brits to integrate more. We have looked at how to better support British nationals by working together, and learnt from each other and shared ideas.

We want to ensure British nationals and English speaking charities get the best possible support from their town halls.” Paulino Herrero, Councillor for Foreign Residents in San Fulgencio, said: “This has been a very good meeting, very positive and very interesting.

We are learning things and getting a lot of information that we can use to put improvements in place.”

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