We provide financial support to help Brits in Spain get back on their feet.
Never before had I been involved in a situation so completely devoid of solution.
For whatever reasons that led us there, we were both desperate, Tim and I.
He because of failing health - a rapidly deteriorating physical condition exacerbated by the circumstances: outdated legal paperwork to stay in Spain (and no practical or physical way of obtaining them), and a drastic cut in already insufficient funds that finally left him homeless at 72. Me because, as a close friend of over 20 years I could no longer help as I had run out of everything – solutions, finances and energy.
So there I was, waiting in the village post office and thinking what a marvelous thing that even this, being able to present a number along with my passport and receive 50euros in cash from Western Union (a system that I never knew existed), is an incredible solution.
A way around the fact that Tim wasn’t physically able to receive the money himself, and had it been put into my own bank account, it would have been swallowed up! I remember being conscious of 50 euros of other people’s money - an incredible thought – relief and gratitude – and that you can buy a lot of food in Spain for that! Not really thoughts you particularly want to be having at the age of 66 after a lifetime working and just being in receipt of a retirement pension, but hey.
And then things took a dive when it wasn’t only food and constant care that was short, but Tim had to leave his accommodation as he could no longer pay his rent.
First he was taken to hospital, then a home for the elderly where he couldn’t stay, then hospital again, then another home until his time ran out there as well and his only option was a homeless shelter. AsI doubt there would have been 24hr care or any physical assistance on hand in a homeless shelter, and Tim isn’t capable of getting himself a glass of water or carrying out any other personal task unaided, I thought that he most likely would die there - and in miserable circumstances. I’d heard Tim speaking on the phone to Tatiana from the British Embassy and it was she along with the British Benevolent Fund who organised the 50 euros that I had received three times on Tim’s behalf. I rang the Embassy and Tatiana negotiated with the BBF for further funding to get Tim back to England.
This involved a specialised wheelchair carrying taxi and assistance into the airport, flight costs, and also paid for essential additional help while Tim stayed in my house for 10 days waiting for repatriation.
The fact that there are strangers – kind people who don’t know either Tim or me, yet who have helped us both through such a critical and desperate episode is truly amazing. I cry thinking about it. It's not the end of Tim’s struggles for sure, but at the moment he is in a comfortable, albeit temporary, residential home in Hounslow with a private room and bathroom, TV, Wifi, good food, and care, he says, - plus speaking his own language!
Personal Testimony by Rosemary
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