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British residents discuss concerns with Alicante Consul at focus groups

News Spain - February 2015

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 As part of a visit to the Alicante Consular District this week, Consular Regional Director for Southern Europe, Will Middleton and the newly appointed British Consul to Alicante Sarah-Jane Morris, have held focus groups with members of the British Community in San Fulgencio and Calpe. Vice Consul Lloyd Milen also attended the meetings, where the aim was for the Consulate to gain a deeper understanding of the issues that most concern British nationals in the area. Over the coming year the Consulate plans to hold further focus groups in Orihuela, Torrevieja, Rojales, Javea, Mazarron, Benidorm, Pilar de la Horadada and Teulada.

focusgroupExpatriates who attended the focus groups raised a variety of issues, including the difficulties they face in getting accurate, up-to-date information on their rights and responsibilities when living in Spain, and how best to plan for the future.

They talked about how the Consulate can help, and also about what British residents can do to support each other and integrate more through learning Spanish and linking into the local Spanish-speaking community. Attendees seemed pleased to hear from the Consulate and see that they were taking time to listen to them.

Will Middleton, who manages British Consulates across southern Europe, said:

"Alicante is an area of Spain with the one of biggest British resident populations, so it is essential that we make sure we are aware of their concerns. We can then work with the local authorities and charities to provide residents with the help and support that they need. That is why we are holding these focus groups."

Alicante Consul Sarah-Jane Morris said:

"It has been really valuable for me to get the chance to listen to the concerns of the British community here. My job is to make sure that those concerns do reach the ears of those who need to hear them, be that the UK or Spanish authorities.

"It was also an opportunity to celebrate the success of many of the volunteering initiatives that are going on and thank in person some of those individuals who give so much of their own time and energy to helping others through their voluntary work. There are some examples of real community spirit out there and I want to really help champion and support that wherever I can."

Image from left to right:

Paulino Herrero, Councillor Delegate for the Mayor's Office, San Fulgencio town hall
Will Middleton, Consular Regional Director for Southern Europe
Lloyd Milen, Vice-Consul to Alicante
Sarah-Jane Morris, British Consul to Alicante
Cllr Jeff Wiszniewski, Councillor for Urbanizations and Deputy Mayor, San Fulgencio town hall