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News & Events

NEWS & EVENTS

Afghanistan Situation

Please see the following message from Una Cleminson, National Chairman and Charles Byrne, Director General and please share with other members and anyone you think might need the RBL's support.
Undoubtedly you will have been following in the news the troubling events unfolding in Afghanistan. We know how distressing and difficult many in our community will find these developments, both veterans and those still serving, their families, and of course the families who lost loved ones as a result of the conflict.
It is vital we let our community know we are here for them during this time and stand ready to support them. We have seen an increase in calls to the contact centre, and our expert welfare teams are already helping those who have reached out, working collaboratively with referral partners and national and local government to provide the very best support.
Whether our community are facing emotional distress or mental health issues, need practical support or a listening ear, we are here for them, and we ask you to direct anyone in need of support to the contact centre on +44 808 802 8080. That includes Afghans who worked alongside the British Armed Forces and hold a HM Armed Forces campaign medal, our full range of support is available to them. We have done significant work in the last week, looking at the potential needs that will arise for all those eligible for our help and planning the best way to offer that support. The most effective way you can contribute to helping our community at this point is by directing all welfare enquiries to the contact centre where staff are waiting, briefed, and qualified.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely, working with our partners as necessary, and we are encouraging our community to regularly check in with one another and call us if they are struggling. This important message will be repeated on our channels, and we ask you to share it also.
There is significant media interest in speaking with members of the Armed Forces community and military charities. We are aware journalist enquiries may be coming into the organisation through various channels and we remind you to refer these to the RBL’s press office, contact details here, to provide accurate information on the support available.
There are those within our own membership and staff who served in Afghanistan and will be affected by the ongoing events. Please reach out for support if you need it, and we encourage everyone to show understanding and compassion at what is a difficult time for many.
Our contact centre colleagues are ready and waiting, therefore once again, please advise anyone needing support to get in touch with them directly. Thank you.
Best wishes,
Una Cleminson, National Chairman and Charles Byrne, Director General

Community Support In Action

Murcia Branch Coffee Morning, 28 July 21

Our Community Support Coordinator was recently invited by the Branch Chairman of Murcia Branch to attend the first Branch coffee morning they had held as a “meet and greet” event in the shopping area of the urbanisation.

Pam's report says:

“It was a wonderful event which had attracted about 20 people and numerous passers-by stopped and asked what was happening.  Several joined us to hear what we had to say.

“People from a bar opposite took part in the raffle and won loads (how lucky!) and donated some prizes back again which was kind, took our details and were thinking about joining the Branch.

“As Carl mentioned 4 new members 3 people on the next caseworker course but in addition one lady signed up to be a hospital and home visitor.

“In addition Billie, the Branch Community Support lead and caseworker, went to other tables and offered my card – a lady who desperately needed assistance contacted us after the event to see if we could assist her.

“Not only a warm friendly coffee morning which raised over €50 for the Poppy Appeal but new members, new volunteers and an opportunity to try to help improve a beneficiary’s life.

Tell me, what better outcome could there be!”

If you would like to join our team providing support to veterans by becoming a caseworker, a telephone buddy or a hospital visitor, contact Pam Twissell-Cross – Spainnorth.CommunitySupport@RBL.Community


District Caseworkers' Course

At the end of June and beginning of July District North Spain conducted Caseworkers Courses for new and existing caseworkers, the training was delivered to support our caseworkers who tirelessly deliver a caring and up to date professional service to veterans and beneficiaries. 12 Caseworkers were updated and 5 new Caseworkers, fantastic achievement for the Branches that attended and the District.
The course is designed to show new and existing caseworkers how collaboration and the sharing of best practices assists our supporters and how it also benefits veterans and beneficiaries of the Legion; it also allows the training team to provide essential updates on caseworker initiatives.
Being a caseworker during the Covid-19 pandemic has been a lonely business and we would like to thank all caseworkers who have overcome the issues associated with the pandemic in a safe and professional manner and have continued to offer a service to our beneficiaries to highest of standards the Legion can provide.
Have you considered assisting our veterans and becoming a Legion supporter, supporter is the term used for our Caseworkers, Telephone Buddies and our Home and Hospital Visitors can be a very self-rewarding experience, not only are you providing vital assistance to the Legion’s beneficiaries you will also become part of the supporting team?
Full training will be provided, and you will always have the support of our Community Support Team, should you wish to become a Caseworker, Telephone Buddy or a Home and Hospital Visitor, please contact the following.
To become a Caseworker or if you want to make enquires for assistance please contact: Pam, 646 517 480 or email SpainNorth.CommunitySupport@RBL.Community
For Telephone Buddies or Home and Hospital Visitors please contact: Billie, 711008578 or email murcia.bcs@rbl.community or your local branch, whose details you can find by following this link

District North Spain Celebrates Armed Forces Day

In the first major event that it has been possible to hold for more than a year, District North Spain joined the United Kingdom in commemorating Armed Forces Day.  A service was held in Orihuela Cathedral on Saturday, 26th June 2021 in the presence of the British Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, His Excellency Hugh Elliott and the Mayor of Orihuela, Emilio Bascuñana.  For a more detailed account of the event and additional photographs follow this link

 


RBL Membership Town Hall Meeting

The recording of the Membership Town Hall meeting held on 20th April is now available to watch online – please click on the screenshot below.

Need to Get a COVID Vaccination Certificate?

There may be occasions when you need to get a COVID Vaccination Certificate. Within the Valencian Community, this can be obtained online from the following website - as long as you have a valid SIP card and have registered your mobile number with the health authorities.

  • Step 1 - Go to the following website and enter your details.  As the page is only available in Castellano and Valenciano, a short explanation is attached to the bottom of this post.
  • Step 2 - When you press "Validar", it will invite you to confirm your mobile number and have a code sent to you by SMS.
  • Step 3 - when you receive the SMS code, enter it on the page and you will ab able to consult your COVID vaccination history and print off a copy should you need it.


LATEST ADVICE FROM THE BRITISH EMBASSY

Intermittently, the British Embassy held a "drop in clinic" to deal with some of the many issues facing British expats living here in Spain and visitors to the country.  You can find the details they published on our British Embassy Updates page


THE LEGION'S WORK IN SPAIN GOES ON....

As you can see in the stories below, huge amounts of money have been both raised and spent overseas in the Poppy Appeal.  Here in Spain, the generosity of those who have supported us has allowed us to support more people than ever before.  In fact, the last 6 months of 2020 saw our expenditure double compared to the same period in the previous year.  Despite the pandemic and the restrictions it has brought, we're helping more and more individuals and our amazing Volunteer Caseworkers, Home & Hospital Visitors and Telephone Buddies have found ever more inventive ways of making sure that our help can reach those who need it.  You can see how we help on our How We Can Help page and there are some examples of cases on the How We've Helped page.  Please take a look to see how the money you contribute so generously provides real and much-needed help in a wide variety of ways. 


POPPY APPEAL 2020 RAISES AN AMAZING AMOUNT OVERSEAS

In an amazing effort considering the current climate, Overseas Branches of the Legion around the world raised a total of 640,674.51 (£566,968.99) in the recent Poppy Appeal. Perhaps more importantly, in the 12 months from June 2019 to June 2020, the Legion helped Beneficiaries outside the UK to the tune of €582,560.55 (£515,540.40). The overall total for the amount raised here in Spain is still being finalised and we will announce it shortly but, as the figures show, the money raised here is spent on those in need locally.
So a huge vote of thanks goes to all those volunteers who collected for their time, effort and dedication in difficult circumstances, as well as to those who contributed for their incredible generosity. Of course, we wouldn't be able to support our Beneficiaries without the selfless and tireless work of our amazing team of volunteer Caseworkers who have still managed to provide so much support despite current restrictions. Thank you all!

AMAZING SUPPORT TO THE POPPY APPEAL

Sam's Bar in La Marina opened in late 2013.  Chris had always donated to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and decided that any fundraising they undertook would be for the benefit of the RBL.  At the time they set themselves a target to raise €5000 in 5 years.

They started off with a bottle on the bar and a Poppy Box which raised €420 - by the end of 2014 they had raised €2036. Their clientele had got on board with their efforts and by the end of 2016 this total had risen to €2700. 

They realised they were going to be short of their target so they upped their efforts and held a number of events and sold tee shirts.  By the end of 2018 they had surpassed their target and had raised no less than €7331. They didn’t want to stop there and by the end of 2020 they had raised €10.638,00 plus another €1008 we picked up from them this week! They know they couldn’t have raised this amount without the continued support and generosity of their clientele. Thank you to Sam and Chris for all your efforts and well done to all who frequent Sam's Bar.


VISIT TO CARTAGENA'S MAGNIFICENT MILITARY MUSEUM 

The Military Museum of Cartagena was opened as a Museum in 1997 in what, for over 200 years, had been the major headquarters and artillery base in South-East Spain. 

It was one of a series of major depots dedicated to the storage of equipment, ammunition, repair and manpower and it played a major part in many of the conflicts dating back to 1786, when the Real Parque de Artillería de Cartagena was first built.

Simply being able to enjoy the architecture itself is worth the visit alone, with it’s beautiful vaulted ceilings, built with brick on spherical pillars, in a simple neo-classical style.

Dr Tony Fuller, a member of the Orihuela Costa and District Branch of The Royal British Legion, is a volunteer guide and researcher at the Museum. Tony also works with the Archivo de Cartagena, where he is helping to record the history of the British in the City, but it was in his capacity as a member of the RBL that he recently put pen to paper to write a brief on the history of the Military Museum, which subsequently appeared in the December edition of the National Magazine.

Seeing the story online, in the virtual edition of the magazine, the Comandante, Juan Antonio Martinez Sanchez, immediately set his sights on procuring copies of the printed edition, which led him, through Dr Fuller, extending an invitation for the magazine editor to visit the Museum.

So with his authorisation to cross community borders in hand, Kevin Reardon drove down to Cartagena where he was afforded celebrity status during a morning which took in a 30 minute meeting with the Comandante and his senior officials, including Col (Retd) Manuel Roca Dorda, the President of the Cultural Association, ‘Amigos del Museo Historico Militar de Cartagena’.

During the meeting, after handing over copies of the RBL Magazine, he was presented with a comprehensive museum guide, which was then followed by a grand tour of the facilities by Col (Ret’d) Antonio Cortinas-Guntin, and a wonderful lunch.

The museum really does display a rich historical and military heritage which, as well as showing a respect for tradition, displays one of the very best collections of small arms, artillery and armoured vehicles in the country.


BRITISH EMBASSY MESSAGE REGARDING COVID-19 INNOCULATION PROCESSESS IN THE VALENCIAN  COMMUNITY

Please check an important message on our British Embassy Updates page regarding incorrect information circulating on social media in respect of COVID-19 vaccination process within the Valencian community


In Memoriam

It is with great sadness tha we announce the deaths this week of two stalwart Legion Members, both of whom have played an enormous part in the work of their own Branches and of the District 

Carl Gullis

As Chairman of Calpe Branch, he was one of the longest serving Chairman in our District and a staunch supporter of the Royal British Legion throughout.                                                              

Steve Carne

Ex Welsh Guards, Steve served many recent conflicts.  He worked tirelessly for 6 months promoting his idea within the local expat veteran community and was the first Chairman of the Murcia Branch when it was inagurated in April 2017.

We will remember them!


Remembrancetide 2020

As the Legion's National Chairman points out, this year's Remembrancetide is very different from anything we have experienced before but the Act of Remembrance itself remains as important as ever.  Please see her note below.

You can donate or simply download your poppy for free from this page or donate on our Go Fund Me page


Poppy Appeal 2020 Launched in Benidorm

On 16th October, the Poppy Apeal 2020 was launched in Benidorm in bright autumn sunshine.  For a full report and more photographs, click on the photograph below or click here to see a video of the Ceremony.


Need Help with your 'Residencia'?

Across the District area, 3 organisations have been officially recognised by the British Government and given funding to assist British nationals who may need help with their applications for 'residencia' here in Spain.Their websites contain lots of useful information which may be of interest to you.  Also, remember that the Embassy is holding a series of Live Q&A sessions on it's facebook page - you can find details on our British Embassy Updates page.

  • Age in Spain is providing telephone, email and local support for British Nationals who live in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.
  • The International Organisation for Migration is providing telephone, email and local support for British Nationals who live in Andalusia, Madrid and Murcia.
  • Babelia is providing telephone, email and local support for British Nationals who live in Alicante, Valencia and Castell.

   


Valencian Government Holiday Vouchers

Although the details are vet to be confirmed, the Valencian Government has just announced a scheme offering up to 70% subsidy on holidays taken within the region.   Keep your eyes peeled for a bargain - we will post more detail as it becomes available.


TIE or not TIE – that is the question…

(with apologies to William Shakespeare)

There has been a lot of information and opinion online in recent days about the TIE and it hasn’t always provided consistent advice.   So here are a few pointers that Members may find of interest.

If you live here for the majority of the year and are not yet legally registered as a resident in Spain, you must act now to protect your arrangements under the Withdrawal Arrangement.  You will need to prove your financial status, your healthcare provision, your address etc and will automatically be issued with the TIE, as the former green residencia credit card (which, in turn, replaced the A4 certificate) is no longer being issued.

If you already hold a residencia card or letter, you do not have to do anything at this stage, your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement are guaranteed by that document, which is equally as valid as the TIE.  This is the case whether it carries the word “permanente” or not.  However, you may choose to exchange it for a TIE.  In fact, many people are doing exactly that for a variety of reasons: they personally feel more confident with a TIE; they feel that the TIE is a potentially useful photo-ID card; the TIE card itself is far more durable and so on…

If you choose to exchange, you will need to complete the appropriate forms, pay the taxes and attend an appointment in your local area.  Actual procedures very slightly from province to province but generally every applicant will need to attend twice in person.  The first time, you need minimal paperwork (including photocopies of your passport and existing “residencia” – as well as a padrón dated within the last 3 months but only if you have change your address.)  The second time you return to collect the TIE card itself.

In either case, the only direct cost to you is €12 as a fee for producing the TIE card itself.  Of course, there will be those who cannot attend in person and who may need to appoint an agent but generally the process is simple and the office staff involved speak English.  One particularly worrying aspect has been the rise in number of agents offering to carry out the process for a fee – sometimes a considerable one!  There is usually no need for you to go to this expense.

As well as being able to answer general questions on our own Facebook page, you can always find authoritative information on the British Embassy website or Facebook page – Brits in Spain.  Also, within Spain the British Government has funded a number of organisations to support British nationals in the process and their websites provide lots of useful information.

  • Age in Spain is providing telephone, email and local support for British Nationals who live in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.
  • The International Organisation for Migration is providing telephone, email and local support for British Nationals who live in Andalusia, Madrid and Murcia.
  • Babelia is providing telephone, email and local support for British Nationals who live in Alicante, Valencia and Castell.

LEGION SUPPORT IN SPAIN CONTINUES IN SPITE OF THE CRISIS

The Royal British Legion provides emotional, practical and financial support to Ex-Service Personnel and their dependants worldwide.  What you may not realise is that the vast majority of the money raised in Spain during the annual Poppy Appeal is spent here in Spain.  We are contacted daily by people in need.  Their needs and ages vary widely but we’re here to support all of those in need and we will always find a way to make it work somehow.  In the last year, we have deal with almost 100 separate cases and have spent more than €115,000 supporting them.  We currently have about 60 ongoing cases, dealing with beneficiaries who need prolonged rather than one-off support.

Restrictions imposed as a result of the ongoing crisis have made the work of our Community Support Team extremely complex.  Despite this, our team of dedicated volunteers has found ways to deliver their much needed support to our beneficiaries here in Spain even under the current difficult circumstances.  However, nothing tells the story of how the money you donate is spent and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives better than a first-hand account.  Keep reading to see Ian and Vanessa’s story, which started just before lockdown and which we publish with their permission…

My partner and I would like to express our gratitude to The Royal British Legion for helping us at a really distressing time in our lives.  Vanessa was diagnosed with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy which is an illness that is disabling very similar in its symptoms to Multiple Sclerosis.

We were struggling financially as Vanessa had to stop working and we were surviving on just my pension payments, we were also living in rented accommodation which to say the least was substandard, with a landlord who point blank refused to carry out repairs needed to property, which also impacted upon Vanessa’s wellbeing.

I was then put in touch with the Legion, which made an immediate positive impact on our lives.  I received a phone call from Pamela who I now know to be the Community Support Coordinator for Spain District North of the Legion, she then arranged for a District Caseworker to visit, I received a phone call from Jack the very same day and he arranged to visit us in Torrevieja the same weekend.  Jack and Mary, both Caseworkers, arrived and immediately made myself and Vanessa feel at ease, they showed us complete empathy.  They had received a brief from Pamela prior to arrival which made the visit less daunting, opening up to a complete stranger was not easy!  That said nothing was rushed and Jack completed the documentation while Mary and Vanessa looked around the rented accommodation to see the issues that were undoubtedly affecting Vanessa’s health and the stress I was under trying to cope with the situation we had found ourselves in.  Jack stated that the priority was to move us into temporary accommodation as soon as possible, which would hopefully be followed by assisting us with a move back to the UK for the wellbeing of Vanessa. 

Jack did explain that due to the onset of COVID-19 that the move could take some time, but ensured us that both himself, Mary and Pamela would do all they could with the assistance of the Legion.  So, we have now moved into a temporary home which the Legion financed with the deposits for the accommodation and also the first month’s rent.  We are so much happier now and Vanessa’s health, although far from sorted, the temporary accommodation has definitely assisted.  My stress levels have also improved, and we are now looking to the future and hopefully with the assistance of the Legion, will be on our way back to the UK very soon.  We cannot express in words our gratitude to all of the Legion team here in Spain and indeed the UK for their fantastic work, which is carried out with such compassion and dignity to help Veteran’s.  We would urge everyone to support the Legion with your help and kind donations, which will allow this essential support to continue. 

God Bless you all, and sincere thanks and gratitude from us both,

Fondest Regards - Ian &Vanessa  

If you want to offer your support – or you need our help – follow the link to pages about the District and about How We Can Help, where you can find our contact details.


News From the British Embassy Madrid

As we all know, things are changing rapidly with regard to the rights of British Expatriates resident here in Spain.  Consequently there are frequent updates coming out of the British Embassy in Madrid and therefore we've created a new page to keep them all in one place  for easy reference.  The new page can be found here.

While we will make every effort to reproduce them all, you might also want to ensure that you visit the Embassy's webpage or their Facebook Group "Brits in Spain" regularly as information is constantly changing.


Virtual Parade of Standards

Branches from across District North Spain have joined in the Legion's Virtual Parade of Standards to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, organised to replace the planned commemorative acts. Standard Bearers from across the world have photographed or recorded the Act of Remembrance in their homes and back gardens as part of a collage that will form part of the Nation's tribute. A selection of videos and photographs from here in Spain is below. Please join us on May 8th as we take part in a national moment of Remembrance and pause for a Two Minute Silence to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation and reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world.  You can find additional photos and videos by following this link.

 


Corona Virus Information

BRITISH EMBASSY UPDATE - 20 APRIL 2020

The following helpful update has been received from the British Embassy in Madrid:

I wanted to provide an update on various topics that may be of interest to your communities.

  1. We know that access to healthcare is always a key issue and our healthcare team have provided two updates on home delivery of prescription medicine (for residents and visitors) and on access to regular medical treatment for residents. You may have already seen these posted on our website, but thought you might prefer to share them in document form.
  2. The crisis is affecting us all in many different ways, including financially. Therefore we have pulled together a summary on the Spanish government’s economic measures with some useful links where people can find out more. As I’m sure people are ware, the Embassy cannot offer financial advice, but we hope that the signposting will help people acess the support they need.
  3. Only essential travel is permitted during the state of emergency, but we know that there are UK nationals who want to return to the UK, but have not yet been able to do so. As you will be aware, there are very limited flights back to the UK and currently the only direct flights are going from Madrid, Barcelona and Gibraltar. We do not expect flight schedules to return to normal during May, so we would encourage those people who wish to return to take one of the flights that are available. You may also be aware that Brittany Ferries has cancelled crossings from Spain to the UK until at least 15 May, so again we would encourage those people who want to return to the UK over land to do so by driving through France, where there are ferries operating and the EuroTunnel remains open. There is lots of information on the documentation needed on our Facebook page (facebook.com/britsinspain) and the travel advice pages for Spain and France (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain and https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france)

We are conscious that we have focused a lot on trying to support visitors to remain home over the last month or so, but recognise that many UK residents in Spain will have questions about what COVID-19 means for them – for example, how it affects their residency and healthcare – or may just be confused about the restrictions under the state of emergency. We are going to be holding a virtual drop-in session on our Facebook page on Wednesday 22 April (facebook.com/britsinspain) to give people the opportunity to post their questions to us. Please note that this will not be a live session as, like most people, we are all working from home. Instead, we will give people a limited time period (13:00 to 17:00 (CET)) to post their questions, which we will then answer through a series of videos and a Q&A document. Please do promote this opportunity to anyone you think may have questions.

 This notice was accompanied by a set of factsheets listed below.  Owing to their size and format it isn’t possible to post them here but they have been sent to every Legion Branch Committee should you wish to get a copy.  They are also available from spainnorth.vicechairman@rbl.community on request:

  • The financial effects of COVID-19
  • Access to regular medical healthcare appointments for residents in Spain
  • Home delivery of prescription medicine in Spain

 


Tax Rebate for Couples - Act Now

 

Anyone who is married or in a civil partnership where one is a non-taxpayer and the other is a basic rate taxpayer (earning up to about £50,000) and both are born after 6 April 1935, may be entitled to claim Marriage Allowance. This allowance can be claimed back as far as UK tax year 2015/16 - but today is the last day to reclaim Marriage Allowance that particular year.
Marriage Allowance allows the non-taxpayer to transfer some of their personal allowance to their partner reducing their tax liability. It could be worth around £250 a year (varying year by year on that tax year's personal allowance). It's a simple online application made by the non-taxpayer and all you need is your National Insurance Number and your passport. It only takes about 10 minutes and you CAN apply if you're resident abroad. The application is valid permanently unless your circumstances change - remember that but you may want to act now as the window for 2015.16 closes at midnight tonight (05 Apr 20). Follow this link to claim.

British Consulate in Alicante - Cancellation of Events

Following the recent decision to suspend its outreach events, the British Consulate in Alicante has issued the following clarification:

Given the fast-moving situation with regard to Coronavirus in Spain, we have decided to err on the side of caution and postpone all our physical outreach events until further notice. This follows the advice from Spanish health authorities to avoid unnecessary journeys and limit meetings in the region of Madrid and Avala in the Basque Country. We will aim to reschedule these events as soon as we can, once the situation becomes clearer. We will set up a Facebook Live event to respond to questions from UK Nationals before the end of March and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Our travel advice for Spain can be found here, and we continue to update it regularly. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain

I will keep you posted as soon as we are in a position to arrange the outreach and other events again.


Brexit: Where We Are Now - An Update From The British Embassy, Madrid

As you will know, the UK left the EU last Friday at 23:00 (CET), so it seems like the right time to send you an update on what this means for UK nationals living in Spain.

The Withdrawal Agreement which sets out how the UK leaves the EU has been agreed by both the UK and EU and is now in force. This is very positive news for UK nationals who are resident in Spain, as the Withdrawal Agreement contains some really important protections for your rights:

  • You will be able to continue to live and work in Spain
  • UK state pensioners will continue to have lifelong healthcare as long as they remain living in Spain. This also applies to residents who claim a UK state pension in the future
  • Your UK state pension will continue to be upratedAs above, this also applies to those claiming a pension in the future

Those rights will be protected for as long as you live in Spain, provided you are legally resident here by the end of 2020 – that means having the green residency certificate, which remains a valid document.  These citizens’ rights are not affected by the negotiations taking place on future trade and security.

The Withdrawal Agreement also provides an Transition Period (from 31 January until 31 December 2020) during which time nothing will change for UK Nationals in Spain. You will also be able to exchange your driving licence until the end of 2020 without taking a driving test.  

The rules for travel between the UK and Spain will not change during the transition period. We know that there are many swallows, who split their time between the UK and Spain, who are concerned about what the UK’s departure from the EU means for them. They will be able to continue as they have been until the end of this year, but after that freedom of movement will end, which will have an impact on how long UK nationals will be able to spend in Spain without a visa or residence permit. We will be providing further information on our Facebook channels specifically for swallows and would encourage them to also sign up for alerts to travel advice (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain).

What to do next

Residency: the most important thing UK nationals can do is to make sure they are registered as a resident before 31 December 2020. If you are not yet registered you should take steps to apply as soon as possible (https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/index.html). If you already have the green A4 or credit card-sized certificate you may need to exchange this for a foreigners’ card (or TIE). We will update gov.uk/livinginspain and facebook.com/britsinspain as soon as we have further information, but for now anyone with the green certificate does not need to take action.

Driving licence: we advise anyone living in Spain to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one by 31 December as you will be able to do so without taking a driving test during this period. The DGT (dgt.es) has updated its website to confirm that UK licences will continue to be exchanged as before during the transition period (ie in the same way as any other EU licence). We recommend people take action as soon as they can as the number of appointments in some areas still seems to be quite limited, but do keep trying and remember that you do not need to exchange where you are resident if other areas have more appointment availability.

Healthcare: we urge people to check that they are accessing healthcare in the correct way. For example, if you are resident in Spain you should not be using a UK-issued EHIC to access healthcare unless you are a student or a posted worker. Please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-in-spain-including-the-balearic-and-canary-islands for further information.

Further information

The Living in Guide: gov.uk/livinginspain is the official source for government information. Please do sign up for updates, so you are aware if anything changes.

Facebook.com/britsinspain is our Facebook community for UK nationals and contains some really helpful guidance and videos

To view the latest video message from HMA Hugh Elliott to UK nationals visit: https://www.facebook.com/BritsInSpain/videos/1352265428277649/

To view the latest Facebook Live Q&A with HMA Hugh Elliott and Regional Consular Policy Advisor Lorna Geddie visit: https://www.facebook.com/BritsInSpain/videos/502630740662195/

We hope you find this update useful.


British Consulate Outreach Events

STOP PRESS - ALL FUTURE EVENTS ORGANISED BY THE BRITISH CONSULATE IN ALICANTE HAVE BEEN CONCELLED UNTIL FUTHER NOTICE!!!!

Representatives of the British Consulate will be holding further outreach events in March that are outreach events, not pop ups, so there will be a presentation with a chance to ask questions at the end. 

They also want to remind you to check their Living In Spain page where, as those who are signed up to the email alerts you will have seen, a lot of the information has been updated recently.

 

The Consulate also points out that the Spanish government has also just recently updated its website to give clearer information around how British nationals can show they are covered by the withdrawal agreement. You can read the Q&A in English by clicking on this link.  

 

Remember that during this year, the two most important things British nationals have to do is:

·       Register as a resident

·       Start the process to exchange their driving licence for a Spanish one

If you are unable to attend Consulate events can keep up-to-date on all the relevant information on gov.uk/livinginspain, where you can sign up for email alerts, so that you know when things have been updated. You can also follow the Consulate on Facebook.com/britsinspain  

In addition, please be aware that the British Embassy’s Facebook live Q&A session on Brexit is available to watch on their Facebook page for anyone who may have missed it. Lots of questions came up around TIEs, residency, swallows and access to healthcare that will be of interest to you all.  You can watch it on their Facebook channel here: www.facebook.com/Britsinspain

They will also hold some information meetings on Brexit in the middle of March in a number of towns across the local area. They will send information about those as soon as they are confirmed so that anyone who is interested in attending has the opportunity to do so.


Battle of Britain hero Maurice Mounsden dies 

Maurice Mounsden, one of only four remaining pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain during World War Two - has died.

According to family members, Maurice, aged 101, is understood to have passed away on Friday night at the nursing home where he lived on the island of Menorca. 

"He was a great man and will be missed by his nephews and his nieces," nephew Adrian Mounsdon told the British press.

Maurice, with 56 Squadron, was one of 3,000 men who risked their lives in a three-and-a-half month campaign, in which 544 RAF pilots and aircrew died.

In September last year, the Hurricane pilot celebrated his 100th birthday in style in Menorca, watching the Red Arrows’ smoke trails write ‘100’ in red, blue and white over the Mediterranean in a dazzling 30-minute performance.

Just a month later Maurice was presented with a beautiful glass plaque bearing the coat of arms of the Royal British Legion and the Royal Air Force Association, by Tina Graham the RBL Welfare Officer in Menorca. She passed on the heartfelt thanks and best wishes of the Chairman, the District North Committee and all of the District members.

Following the presentation Tina said “We are all very proud of Maurice and the service he has given. He is a shining example that we all hold very dear. 


RESIDENCY APPOINTMENTS - ALICANTE PROVINCE

(a note from the British Consulate)

Just to remind you that British nationals who live in the Alicante province can get next day residency appointments by selecting the option POLICIA – CERTIFICADO UE (EXCLUSIVAMENTE PARA REINO UNIDO). The local authorities in Alicante inform us that they open up appointments on a daily basis and that there is quite a lot of availability each day.

Please do encourage anyone who hasn´t yet applied for residency to do so, and to take advantage of the additional appointments. As appointments are opened up each day, if there are none left when you check, there will be more the following day.

A reminder of instructions to book an appointment:

When you go to your appointment, make sure you bring the correct supporting documentation which is:

  • Proof of income
  • Proof of healthcare cover
  • Your padron
  • Your passport
  • The completed application form
  • The payment form with proof the payment has been taken

Editor’s Note - from going through this process with a family member in the last week or so, I know that the system works efficiently, even if going to Alicante may not be as convenient as the previous regime.  However, I would add a couple of other things:

  • There’s no dedicated parking there and the surrounding streets are very busy, so leave plenty of time to get to your appointment;
  • Make sure that the documents you take are as recent as possible and certainly not more than 3 months old – and take photocopies of everything as well as they won’t make copies there.  you will also need a passport style photograph;
  • It’s a same day service but please be aware that whatever the time of your initial appointment, you will have to stay until 1pm to collect the green card itself.

POPPY APPEAL LAUNCH 2019

In bright sunshine, this year's Poppy Appeal in Spain was launched at a ceremony, including a Parade of Standards, in Benidorm on Friday, 18th October 2018.  For a fuller report of the event, visit this page

 POPPY APPEAL 2018 RAISES OVER £50M

It has just been announced that the 2018 Poppy Appeal raised over £50 million to be used to support beneficiaries.  Here in Spain we raised over €176,000, most of which will be spent here supporting Veterans and their families.  For more details of the 2018 campaign results, look here.  For more details of how the Legion in Spain can support those in need, see our page "How We Can Help".


POPPY APPEAL 2019

We are proud to announce that the total raised during the 2019 Poppy Appeal within District North Spain was  €156,791.46.

A huge "Thank You" to the people who contributed - what you may not know is that the majority of this money is actually spent here in Spain , supporting Veterans and their families


THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION IN SPAIN - COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Posts on this website or on Facebook about Community Support, which is always delivered by The Royal British Legion's trained volunteers, are designed to reach out to all those who have served, are serving, their family or beneficiaries and our Veterans, especially those who do not belong to or have access to a local Branch.

We know that many beneficiaries in Spain live in areas where digital access to news and information is the only avenue open to them, so these are especially important for them. We also post in the local and national newspapers so look out for those.

You do not have to belong to a Branch to ask for help and support.  A lot of our work here in Spain comes from outside of our Branches via word of mouth, so we must keep spreading the word. If you know of anyone who you think qualifies and may need help, please pass on these details to them, they can contact us directly with full confidentiality - they are not alone and if we can offer them support, we will.

TRBL offers support to its beneficiaries wherever they live in the world.

Your continued support for The Royal British Legion is much appreciated and without it we would not be able to reach or support as many beneficiaries as we do.

More details about our Community Support services can be found on this page.  Also, you can find our contact details on this page, including a number for anyone who just wants general information about TRBL, branches or joining info.  We ask you to use the appropriate number depending on the nature of your enquiry so that you can get accurate responses.


THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION IN MURCIA

The Royal British Legion had a mixed recruitment and Community Support stand at a local fiesta at Camposol in Murcia which is near Mazaron.  Such a lot was achieved in four hours, over one hundred contacts with members of the public as well as 36 people donating funds to the cause. Lots of information was given out to all who approached the stall about both the Branch and all aspects of Community Support.

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Five membership joining forms were given out and the contact details taken of those people to keep in touch.  Two people offered to become Poppy Coordinators as the branch currently doesn’t have one, including a couple who were only in Spain for five weeks and were Poppy Coordinators at their last branch.  Lots of contacts were made locally and lots of information about the branch meetings were given out, the branch meets at both Camposol and Calasparra.

As you can see it is not just about the Legion members now, but about having fun with the next generation of members. Snap rulers did big business! 

Pam also got chance to promote TRBL on a local radio station and she is going to talk further on Community Support, including a breakfast club for veterans locally, poppy launch and what is happening locally with Steve the branch chairman.

If you are interested in the Murcia Branch please contact;

If you wish to talk about help and assistance or just want a chat contact Pam on 676451780 or spainnorth.communitysupport@rbl.community

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COMMUNITY SUPPORT VOLUNTEERS  

Do you have a spare half hour to talk to someone who is lonely and lives on their own, do you enjoy chatting with new people? All you need is a phone and a cup of tea. Telephone Buddies are just one of the roles that Community Support Volunteers offer to our beneficiaries. Many people live in very rural areas and once they are on their own they quickly become lonely and isolated, they often have no one to talk to, but people can also be very lonely in a busy town when their life partner has gone and everything has changed. A phone call can make all the difference.   

Hospital / housebound visiting is another way we can show support, a friendly visit to someone who would otherwise not get a visitor is another way to ensure people are never left feeling lonely or isolated. There is no need for formal training but there will always be support and guidance available.

There are many ways we support those who have served, are serving, and their families and you could help us to do this.

If you think you can give us a few hours to help then please contact Community Support on 676451780 or spainnorth.communitysupport@rbl.community

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DISTRICT INVOLVEMENT IN THE GREAT PILGRIMAGE 90

As many will already know, the Great Pilgrimage 90 will take place in Ypres next month.  Two of District North Spain's Branches, Mojacar and Hondón Valley are sending their Standards to take part in this once in a lifetime event, marking the 90th anniversary of the first such Pilgrimage in 1928.  Below, you can find the text of the press release issued by Mojacar Branch.

LOCAL MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION TO REPRESENT MOJACAR AT WW1 COMEMMORATIONS IN BELGIUM

Michael Coote and Christine Coote will travel to Europe for The Royal British Legion’s Great Pilgrimage 90 - 5-9th August 2018

Members of the Mojacar branch of The Royal British Legion are to join thousands on a pilgrimage of Remembrance to World War One battlefield that culminates in a parade and ceremony in Ypres as part of the end of the First World War centenary commemorations this August.

The Royal British Legion event, known as Great Pilgrimage 90 (GP90), takes place between the 5th and 9th of August and will be one of the largest in the charity’s history.

GP90 will mark 90 years since the original Royal British Legion Pilgrimage in 1928, which saw 11,000 World War One veterans and war widows visit the battlefields of the Somme in France and Ypres in Belgium, a decade after the conflict ended.

That Pilgrimage culminated in a march through Ypres to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Menin Gate Memorial for a ceremony to commemorate the launch of The Hundred Days Offensive and in remembrance of those who never returned.

 Local Legion members, Michael Coote and Christine Coote will represent the Mojacar Branch and the local community at the event, as Standard Bearer and wreath layer respectively.

Michael and Christine will tour some of the same battlefields and cemeteries visited by those on the 1928 Pilgrimage, before marching along the original route through Ypres, to the Menin Gate on the 8th August, bearing their branch standard and a wreath.

They will join more than 2,200 other Legion representatives and dignitaries, including Civic and military guests from the UK, Commonwealth and Northern Europe who are taking part. Once at the Menin Gate Christine will lay a wreath on behalf of the Mojacar community.

Andrew Richardson, Chairman of the Mojacar Branch of The Royal British Legion, comments: “Great Pilgrimage 90 is a unique opportunity for the Legion community to come together and bear our Standards along the same route in Ypres taken 90 years earlier by the veterans and widows of the First World War. The Mojacar Branch looks forward to proudly representing Mojacar at the event.”

As local champions of Remembrance, the Mojacar Branch of The Royal British Legion is looking to work in partnership with their community to bring their unique Remembrance message to the Menin Gate, on their wreath, where it will be displayed in a wreath installation for viewing by the general public until the end of August. 

The parade will start at midday and we encourage the public to make the trip across to Ypres for the 8th August and fill the Market Square to watch the parade, One Hundred Days ceremony and then enjoy an afternoon of musical entertainment including The Central Band of the Royal British Legion.


NEED ASSISTANCE IN ALICANTE PROVINCE?

Did you know that Alicante Provincial Government has a  department specifically aimed at helping the Province's many non-Spanish residents?  They can be contacted for help and advice on 965 10 73 91 or by email at ciudadanosextranjeros@diputacionalicante.es .  There's also lots of useful information on a huge range of topics available online in English (as well as Spanish and other languages) by following this link.

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ARMED FORCES DAY - ORIHUELA CATHEDRAL

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Armed Forces Day exceeds expectations in Orihuela Cathedral

First observed in 2006, Armed Forces Day in the United Kingdom is an annual event to commemorate the service of men and women in the British Armed Forces. Here in Spain the event was celebrated on Saturday 30 June to also include all those security forces, including the Irish Services and the Guardia Civil, National and Local Police here in Spain, to raise awareness and appreciation for those who look after our well-being, especially those who are currently on active duty.

The event, which was also mentioned in a BBC report, was held for the first time in Orihuela city where over 200 British and Spanish servicemen and veterans, led by the Torrevieja Pipes and Drums, and including 4 Chelsea Pensioners who had travelled to Spain especially for the event, marched the short distance from Plaza Teniente Linares, along Calle Mayor de Ramón de Cajal to the 13th Century Orihuela Cathedral.

After they were greeted at the door by the city’s mayor, a 45 minute service, held in English and Spanish, was conducted by the Chaplain of the Royal British Legion (Spain North), Pastor Keith Brown, along with the Cathedral Dean, Father José Antonio Gea.

The Chelsea Pensioners marched into the Cathedral accompanied by “Boys of the Old Brigade” played by the newly formed band of the Royal British Legion, Spain. To the tune of “The Royal British Legion March” they were followed by the Standards of the RBL Spain North, RAFA, RNA, RMA, British and Spanish military veterans.

During the joint denomination service of readings and hymns, conducted in English and Spanish, there was further musical and choral accompaniment by the Royal British Legion Band in Spain, the Crescendo International Choir and opera singer Paul Michael, who performed a moving solo gaining rapturous applause.

The service ended with the mayor of Orihuela, Emilio Bascuñana Galiano, addressing the guests in Spanish and a little English saying how delighted he was that the expatriate community were able to hold the service in the cathedral’s magnificent surrounds. He said how moved he had been during parts of a very emotional and extremely appropriate ceremony.

Following the service a reception was held for almost 200 invited guests and attendees in the magnificent cathedral cloisters.

Guests included the British Vice Consul Elizabeth Bell, the mayor of Orihuela and many of his councillors, amongst which was Rafael Almagro, Sabina Galindo, the councillor for Tourism and Foreign Residents, Sofia Alvarez, who has provided her support to the event since it was first muted many months ago, and the Chairman of the Cruz Roja in Alicante Province. Donald Cubbon and Lt Col (Retd) Nick Keen, the Chair and Vice Chair of RBL Spain, District North, were also in attendance along with many members who had travelled long distances to be at the ceremony.

Thanks must also be provided to the Orihuela Council which provided free transport from the coast, to the Dean of Orihuela Cathedral, to the organiser Eddie Coleman of the Orihuela Costa and District Branch and to sponsors The Emerald Isle La Florida, Designaright and Quiron Hospital.

It truly was an especial occasion which it is hoped will now become an annual event in the RBL Spain calendar.  Additional photographs of this moving event can be found at the following link.

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CASEWORKERS NEEDED FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT

The Royal British Legion (TRBL) is looking for new Caseworkers across Spain.  We are looking for new caseworkers in the areas of Javea, Benidorm, Alicante, Torrevieja, Zurgena, Barcelona and Mojacar 

You do not need to be a member of the TRBL or a branch of TRBL to apply.  Anyone is welcome to apply, either ring or email for a chat about what is involved.  There are no formal qualifications required but if you enjoy being with people and want to assist or help sign post our beneficiaries so that the quality of their life is improved, then this could be for you. 

Please contact Pam on 676451780 Monday-Friday 0900-1700 or email SpainNorth.CommunitySupport@RBL.Community

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RENEWING YOUR PASSPORT?

HMPO has just released two very useful videos telling you how to apply for a new passport online and how to upload a digital photograph straight into the system.  No more tiresome forms – have a look at Renewing your passport online is easy, convenient and secure and How to take the perfect photo.  For more information visit the GOV.UK website here  to get your renewal application started.


DISTRICT CONFERENCE 2018

District North Spain of The Royal British Legion held its Annual Conference in Ciudad Patricia in Benidorm on Friday 26th Janqary 2018.  The Committee and Delegates from Branches were delighted to welcome Emma Cannings, Director of Membership and Volunteering and Sara Munsterhjelm, British Vice-Consul in Alicante as guest speakers.  For a fuller report on the Conference, please visit this page.

Emma Canningssara Munsterhjelmpastor Keitth Brown


DISTRICT NORTH SPAIN IS NOW ON FACEBOOK!

District North Spain now has its own Facebook page, which we will be growing over the coming days and months.  your ideas and contributions are very welcome - visit us at @LegionInSpain

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NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS

If your spouse or partner accompanied on posting outside UK on posting, they can now claim Class 3 National Insurance Contributions (a new class of contribution) right back to April 1975. This could help with UK pension eligibility and amounts.   You can apply even if you’re no longer serving.  Follow the link to find out more.  Remember that since 2010 spouses and partners have been entitled to claim Class 1 contributions when accompanying overseas - that information can also be found in the same article.  Read more here...

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Lest We Forget Remembrance Day Poppy Flower Field

To mark 11th November and Remembrance Sunday, a number of Services of Remembrance were held across District North Spain.  Photographs of some of them are published here .

For additional information about the background to Acts of Remembrance, please visit


NATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR DISTRICT COMMUNITY SUPPORT WORKER

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At the recent meeting of the District Committee, District North Spain Chairman Don Cubbon expressed his pleasure and delight in awarding a certificate on behalf of Ian Fraser-Roe (National Overseas Support Coordinator) to Pam Twissell-Cross.   In recognition of her outstanding work as District Community Support Officer for the District, Pam was awarded a Certificate of Recognition in the recent Volunteer's Week.  The Chairman described the award as thoroughly well-deserved and added his own thanks for Pam's unstinting efforts on behalf of those across District North Spain.


NEW LEGION BRANCH IN MURCIA (BR3710)


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A new Branch of The Royal British Legion was inaugurated in Murcia on 7th April. The lovely surroundings of the Sanctuary on the outskirts Calasparra made a spectacular venue.  With almost 50 people attending there was great enthusiasm for starting a Branch in this northern area of Murcia.

The is the first new Branch to be opened in the District for seven Years and Chris Wyatt, District Secretary said “We are delighted that the Legion will now have a real presence in this area of Murcia.  Branch members will be able to enjoy a varied social life as well as raising money for the Poppy Appeal and helping with Community Support.  We wish them all the very best for the future.”

Click here for contact details.


 

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