Volunteers from British run charitable organisations in Tenerife shared their expertise and experience with like minded ex pats seeking to do the same for the English speaking community in Gran Canaria, at a recent Consulate hosted innovative.
Norman Goodall of the Tenerife Sur Lions Club and his wife Edna, both hard working volunteers, joined Rosalinde Jeffrey, director of SHE, an advice line for women in distress, to offer practical advice and guidance.
Both British Vice Consuls of the Canaries, Esther Martín and Helen Keating, welcomed the visitors and members of the British community from the south of Gran Canaria who all share a common goal – to offer support to those British nationals on the islands that might suffer social exclusion.
The economic downturn in Spain has had a devastating effect on services offered by local authorities. Volunteer groups, advice lines, shelters and social services to name a few, have suffered unprecedented cuts in a time when more and more people need their assistance. For British nationals that don’t speak Spanish and are not integrated in their local community, the challenge to find help is even greater.
Norman presented the good news stories achieved by his work with the Lions Club while Edna offered practical tips on what to do, and what to avoid, when organising charity work. Both emphasized the importance of starting off small. Norman went on to explain that big projects should to be left alone, however there was a myriad of ways that people can get involved in local support in the community.
Rosalinde described how SHE was born and the type of assistance she received from the local authorities and British Consulate during its infancy. She actively engages with, and works alongside, local authorities which has helped SHE grow from strength to strength. In 2011, SHE helped over 350 women get through a range of distressing circumstances such as sexual and psychological abuse, hospitalisation and depression.
Helen Keating commented “We recognise there are British residents throughout the Canaries who already do admirable adhoc charitable work. There are many people out there who have some great ideas and would like to get involved.”
Esther Martín added, “Any successful project needs organisation and that can be daunting and off putting to many. The British Consulate is honoured to host this workshop designed to encourage, inspire and give direction to those prospective volunteers and hopefully spark fledgling charities aimed at assisting British nationals in Gran Canaria.”
Residents interested in becoming involved or setting up a victim or social support group can contact the British Consulate in the first instance. The Consulate welcomes any new initiative of this nature and our role is to support, facilitate and ease the setting up of such organisations through our excellent working relationships with local authorities and stakeholders. An example of this was when Helen Keating organised specialist training with a lawyer , a psychologist and a social worker for SHE volunteers in Tenerife.
Local resident Gavin Boyd said afterwards, “Having seen some of the work first hand that Roz Jeffery is involved with in Tenerife, it was very encouraging to see the interest that her presentation, and that of Norman Goodall, raised within the small group who met in the south of Gran Canaria. It is important that those who are interested in starting some similar works here in Gran Canaria are not put off by the enormity of some of the need and help required but it is better to do something than to do nothing at all. From little acorns mighty oaks grow”
Another attendee, Debbie Woodmansey commented, “I was inspired by the people I met, and I will be using the practical information and contacts I got from the workshop to move forward with a community project I have wanted to do for a long time. It is good to know that the British Consulate is working closely with the local authorities and foreign residents to create social cohesion and to support ex pats in need on Gran Canaria”
Anyone wanting more information on the workshop, or how to get involved in such projects can e-mail the British Consulate: firstname.lastname@example.org quoting whichever is appropriate: Las Palmas or Tenerife in the subject line.