Age in Spain: free English language guidance for retiring in the country
The non-profit provides services such as residency rights regarding Brexit and carries out social work
Age in Spain is a non-profit charity organization based in Mallorca with a huge presence across Catalonia. They provide free English-language services and support, especially for older people, ensuring that English speakers can be well informed on their rights and the benefits they are entitled to.
The group focuses on helping people who have kind of like different barriers to accessing services. With Brexit around the corner, too, much of the assistance they give nowadays if based around residency rights for UK nationals, but they have a large social aspect to their work also.
Their Catalonia coordinator, Bradley De Abreu, sat down with Catalan News to explain what they can offer English-speaking residents in Catalonia.
What is Age in Spain and what services do you offer?
We are an organization that primarily focuses on supporting English-speaking people in Spain. We have a focus on working with older people as well, older and vulnerable people. We focus on helping people who have kind of like different barriers to accessing services. So it might be language barriers, health barriers, mobility issues, even sometimes issues with technology and stuff like that.
We run a casework service where we go out and we do assessments with people and we help them to see if they're accessing all of the benefits that they can, in Spain and in the UK. We also help them to access grants that are available with UK charities as well.
We also have an information service, so anybody can access that. And we have info guides on our website, which help with various different parts of the organization and the things that we do. So it might be retiring to Spain, it might be moving to Spain. It really depends on the person’s specific situation, be it employment benefits or health care benefits, etc.
How is Brexit affecting your work?
We help people a lot in terms of residency rights, that's a major area we work in. There's lots of information out there about residency in Spain, and there's lots of misinformation out there as well. So we've tried to do, as an organization, is take information from official sources.
So there's a lot of people that are living in Catalonia who've lived here for 20-30 years or whatever that have never bothered with becoming a resident because of EU rights. And now all of a sudden they're having to prove that they have sufficient means to live in Spain, that they have health coverage in Spain, and these are kind of prerequisites to applying for residency in the new system in Spain.
We've also gotten a lot of people that contact us that live part of the year in Spain and part of the year in the UK, and there's a lot of different kinds of considerations that those people need to take. They need to be aware of the potential impacts of becoming a resident in Spain if you're not living in Spain full time as well. There's a lot of stress and a lot of worry from people, particularly given that there is a deadline.
What are the social elements of your work?
Working with older people and with vulnerable people, they tend to be the groups that are lonely, they don't have some of their family relationships, particularly if they're living in Spain and they're from the UK, maybe they don't have any family members here.
We deal with a lot of people whose partner has passed away as well. So through the casework service that we offer, we go to people's homes and we visit them. It's not a befriending service, per se, but we're able to link them with other organizations that can provide befriending services.
We're also about to start doing home visits for the residency related issues, and we have a new volunteer role which is called the support worker role. That's going to entail going into someone's home and assisting them with the residency information. And again, we'll be able to signpost them to other organizations and to help them access different services too.
With the residency helpline, we’re also kind of doing welfare calls to people and then following up with them after we've helped them solve the issue if we identify that maybe they’re lonely.
I'll give you an example. We had one caller who speaks perfect Spanish. She's lived here for a long time, but she is not very good with technology, she doesn't have a computer or a printer. We did all of the processes in Spanish, but she just needed us to mail her the forms because she couldn't print them.
During the conversation, it was identified that this lady loved to have a chat and didn't have any family or many friends here. She recently had to change her living situation as well, which impacted on her loneliness.
One of our volunteers has been calling her back every couple of weeks to check up on the residency process, but also just to see how she is and to have a bit of a chat with her and to make sure that she's doing okay as well. That's great.