Founded by HELP Vega Baja, the CARE Group of Torrevieja brings together charities and other organisations such as social services within the Vega Baja area. Meeting regularly, the aim of the group is to work together for the benefit of those in the community that may need support.
Welfare Officers and Social Workers recently held a training day to exchange knowledge on exportable benefits from the UK, such as Attendance Allowance and the Spanish Ley de Dependencia.
Chair of the CARE group and President of HELP Vega Baja, Michele Masson said “over the past 12 months the CARE group has proved a valuable resource for local charities with many issues being discussed. One issue that is often raised is what support people can access when they have difficulties coping with day to day living through perhaps a disability or illness. People often need care at home which is a cost that many cannot afford. There are several exportable benefits that, if the criteria for applying is met, can still be received here in Spain such as Attendance Allowance.
There are companies and individuals who will offer (at a cost) to help with the completion of applications for benefits, particularly Attendance Allowance applications which can appear daunting. Although these companies can legally charge for their service, charities via the CARE Group are anxious to remind everyone that if they need support completing the application, charities will help you completely FREE of charge. Volunteers throughout the area have a wealth of knowledge and work with social workers, have training sessions to keep up to date and are very happy to give their time to not only assist in the completion of the application form but also to suggest other means of valuable support, other than financial, that may be available.
Some people may also be able to apply for help through the Spanish Ley de Dependencia (you need to be resident and on the padron). Your GP, Social Worker and town hall can help you. Again, charities can point you in the right direction because we work alongside social workers day after day and this is also FREE of any charge.
Being chronically ill or disabled wherever you are in the world, can be scary, particularly when you are living in a country and you don't even speak the language. Charities, social services and in some cases your town hall will be able to help to direct you to support that can often make a significant difference in your life, personal alarms for example come to mind. Life is all about choices - the important thing is to know that you have them”.
Everyone is familiar with the concept of placing their loose change in donation boxes which are seen around bars and shops or being shaken by volunteers in shopping centres etc. Always keen to try something new to raise funds, HELP Vega Baja have come up with the idea of offering people special boxes that they can use in their own home and save their change for the charity.
President, Michele Masson said “we have had our red donation boxes in various businesses around the area for many years now and we are extremely grateful for the donations that we receive.
Recently one of our volunteers brought in a large bottle which she had been filling for a couple of years with pennies and also at one of our Christmas Appeal collection points we received a box from someone which was bursting with change.
This gave us the idea of offering people the opportunity to support us by providing them with a box to fill with coins. As a thank you, everyone who joins in will be entered in to a prize draw which we will hold twice a year”.
HELP Vega Baja have been supporting people in need for over 36 years in the Vega Baja area and Michele stated that in 2018 the charity had donated over 30,500 euros to good causes and individuals and said “everyone at the charity is extremely proud of the fact that we have been able to help so many good causes and we aim to continue to offer not only the information and advice that we are well known for, but also to continue supporting those who find themselves in need of our help including of course other charities.
Our relationship with social services means that we are often contacted when they are aware of particular families who are struggling and need our help. We have published a full list of the donations we made throughout 2017 and these can be found on our Facebook page and website.
Obviously, we owe a debt of gratitude to everyone within the community who continue to support us whenever they can and our team of volunteers without whom we would be unable to continue our work”.
President , Michele Masson, went along to the charity’s Parkinson Group which meet every Friday afternoon, 2pm in O’Briens Bar in El Raso.
One member of the group, Marion Smith, has recently set-up the Huntinton’s Disease Association (Costa Blanca) which is a registered charity established to support those people in the Costa Blanca coping with the disease and offers both information and support.
A cheque for 500 euros was handed over to Marion by Michele on behalf of HELP Vega Baja.
Michele said “it was a delight to go along to the Parkinson Group. The group is co-ordinated by the delightful Donna Gee and is open to anyone diagnosed with Parkinson’s or other neurological disease and their carers. After two years meeting up, the group has decided that they want to change their name. In future, they will be known as The HELP Vega Baja Movers and Shakers Group. The members felt this new name represents the group and the fun they have together.
Although many of the members have challenges in their day to day living they also have a great time together and members are guaranteed a fun afternoon. At the same time, the support and understanding offered to everyone is also very apparent. Shared experiences and advice is always on hand”
At the HELP Vega Baja AGM on Tuesday 20th February 2018, it was announced that following a review, the decision had been taken by the Elective Committee to close the charity’s office in Torrevieja with effect from the 1st April 2018.
The meeting was informed that despite the best efforts of everyone, including a complete restructure of the office in 2017, the number of people seeking help through the office had dropped dramatically, in contrast to other offices in the charity which had been extremely busy.
Michele Masson who was re-elected as President for the charity at the AGM, said “We strongly believe that if we allowed this situation to continue we would be failing in our duty and that our time, efforts and of course finances can help people if directed in other ways.
It is particularly sad that this decision has had to be taken because as many people will be aware, HELP Vega Baja originated in the town over 35 years ago. HELP Vega Baja is a forward-thinking charity and we understand that times are changing and that people now expect to receive advice at the touch of a button.
We are working to ensure that our Facebook page and website are current and contain information sheets on popular topics. We are also improving the process of applying for membership online which we are working with our IT support to achieve. We also acknowledge that not everyone feels comfortable using the internet.
For these people we aim to make ourselves available at various venues in the town as often as possible. Our Welfare Officer and myself undertake many talks to groups etc. throughout the Vega Baja area and we have asked our Torrevieja volunteers to join us for their expertise on many subjects.
The committee was delighted to be able to report at the AGM that the charity had gone from strength to strength in the previous 12 months and that through the support received at fundraising events, charity shop, Campoamor market etc. we were able to donate in excess of 30,500 euros to individuals and good causes in 2017.
Our aim is to surpass this in 2018. Over 2,500 people received advice and information from our San Miguel Centre in the past year and there wa a 44% increase in net profit. Like all charities, we know there will be challenges in the year ahead, however, we are confident that with the team we have on board we will face any challenges and continue to be a well-respected charity that the community can continue to depend upon.
I have written to the town hall in Torrevieja and other organisations to reassure them that we are still very much committed to the town and we will always do what we can to support people and likeminded charities in the future.
Exciting times lay ahead for HELP Vega Baja and we welcome you to join us on this journey”.
THE SECOND meeting of a group set up by Michele Masson, president for HELP Vega Baja was held at the Quirónsalud hospital in Torrevieja.
The group, known as CARE (Communication And Resource Exchange) was formed to bring together presidents from local charities with the aim of sharing information, ideas and resources.
Michele said “The group is working really well and the feedback has been positive
“It provides an opportunity for charities to share experiences and offer possible solutions to situations that others are facing.
“Rather than working in isolation, we come together to see how we can support each other, which ultimately will mean that those people in the community who need support from any of our charities will benefit.
“We have covered many issues even in the short period that we have been meeting and decisions have been taken that we believe will make a difference ultimately to those we aim to help.
“Volunteering is great and I am sure we would all recommend it, but having responsibility for a charity can also be daunting so knowing that you have the support from not only your own team but others in similar situations is a bonus.”
A charity awareness day is planned for later in the year, at which people will be invited to meet representatives from local groups all in one venue to find out more about the organisations' work and, of course, about volunteering too. More details to follow…
We are absolutely delighted to say that Mike Wood, owner of Harmony FM has now put together an advert that will be played at the following times:
09:40 ..12:20 ..14.40... 17:40
Thank you to Mike for giving our charity such tremendous support and we look forward to meeting you soon to discuss doing some "interviews"!!!
Here is the link to the radio station which you can also listen to live online as well as on radio etc on 96.7 FM
Please listen in and tell your friends