How to create a better life for the international community in Marbella

by Lorraine Williamson
Marbella International community

MARBELLA – Recently the United Nationalities Marbella Summit 2022 (#UNMS2022) was held in the buzzing city centre port of Marbella. Nicole King, its passionate founder, and organiser, has a clear mission: to create a better and easier life for the international community in Marbella.     

You might wonder how life cannot be good for foreigners living in one of Spain’s most privileged coastal towns in the Andalucian sun. That’s a good question. Certainly, for a lot of new arrivals all seems well in the first place and especially on the outside. After a while, all might indeed turn out to be perfectly well and smooth for many. However, some are less fortunate and their life in Marbella happens to turn out different to what they expected.  

As in ‘normal’ life back home, problems can arise in a life lived in a foreign country, especially where a different language is spoken. People might arrive in Spain in company and end up alone after their partner left or died. People are getting and losing jobs, becoming ill, having financial problems, missing their families.. Or having children which grow up in a rather surreal world. As the eternal ‘guiris’ they don´t really belong to the Spanish community, but they don´t feel a thorough connection with the British, Danish, German, Finnish, Russian or Dutch communities of their parents either.   

 And to this, we can add that Marbella is not just like any city in Spain. There are over 140 nationalities registered in this super international-orientated coastal town. Furthermore, the population doubles or even triples every summer when hundreds of thousands of tourists arrive to enjoy this unique place in the sun. To temporarily forget their responsibilities at home, they spend seemingly endless days and nights on the beach, celebrating parties and attending nightclubs. Not always with positive side effects! 

#Bettertogether with Nicole King  

In this atmosphere, people and even more young adolescents can easily get lost. And that’s where Nicole King comes in. She is the initiator of the United Nationalities Marbella Summit (#UNMS). This event, celebrated annually since 2016 seeks community-led solutions to local issues. Nicole brings her many years of experience, as an established market researcher & analyst plus her knowledge of Spain, to the Marbella community with her undying passion to make a difference and not forget her enormous drive to bring people together. She is the director and presenter of a weekly show with reports and interviews on Marbella Now TV for English-speaking viewers about life in and around Marbella. So many of the guests at the event know Nicole or have even been invited to her show.   

Marbella International Community

Signalising problems and finding solutions  

During the #UNMS events different associations, businesses and charity’s of the international community of Marbella come together to talk about specific problems community members experience. And, more importantly, to come up with solutions. Each does that from their own perspective and expertise. To show you how this works we will summarise shortly the past events and let you know what happened in this year’s UNMS2022.   

Fresh energy to kick off the event  

After a cosy meet and greet in the atmospheric restaurant, The Harbour, all guests went to their perfectly set tables. To help the attendees change to a more receptive mindset Nicole presented Ankita Kumari from Gurkul India for a short meditation. Ankita led the attendees from a work mindset to prioritise the community commitments. It was amazing to see ovwe 100 guests from 17 nationalities turning inwards and concentrating on their breathing with their eyes closed.   

What happened at the previous #UNMS events?  

With the energy completely shifted Nicole started to summarise the last six events by highlighting some notable speakers. But not before first she introduced the Linea Directa English Language Journalism Awards 2023 to motivate the international press on the coast to participate in the UNMS objectives. The details will be released in January and the first awards presented at #UNMS2023.   

Thereafter, she mentioned the success of the Zero Hero campaign she introduced on the coast in collaboration with the Linea Directa Foundation. The idea is participating restaurants, bars and clubs offer free soft drinks to the designated driver accompanying three other consumers of alcohol. Furthermore, the Zero Hero campaign supplies breathalysers to participating bars, clubs, and restaurants. So, before driving off people can test if they are capable. Examples of participating restaurants are the Secret Garden in Mijas Pueblo and the venue of the UNMS2022 The Harbour.   

Marbella International Community

Follow up on previous #UNMS events  

#UNMS2016

The first #UNMS2016 was held at Laude international school in San Pedro and addressed issues like a sustainable Marbella, Marbella as a year-round destination, improving integration with the Spanish community, and which charity options existed.   

Furthermore, it provided invaluable feedback on the issues facing kids, teens, and young adults in the international community. Jenna Callaghan, the mother of a 6-year-old at the time, was at that event and spoke this year again to express her concern about how little progress is made on the matter of helping youngsters feel integrated into the international community of Marbella or providing them with suitable and safe hangout spaces and entertainment. Basically, if kids do not attend sports or activities organised by their schools or communities, they have no place to be. Instead, they hang out in the Puerto Deportivo or in Puerto Banus which are not suitable areas for young kids.   

Nicole King called out to local businesses and sports clubs to organise teenage events. She emphasised the importance of this generation feeling happy here because they are the future clients and/or employees of the local businesses. Martin Nathan, CEO of Talk Radio Europa has since shown interest in following up on a social club of sorts, as have several other participants. 

# UNMS2017

The second #UNMS2017 was held at Laude International School too. Here the participants spoke about the following issues: For young children and their parents on education, protecting the planet, bilingualism, and cultural identity. For Teenagers guests spoke about things to do, further education and careers and integration into Spanish society. In over 70s issues arose around health care, nursing support, isolation, pensions and estate planning.   

Baycrest Wealth
#UNMS2018

In 2018 the #UNMS was an exclusive event concentrating on B2B. Consulates met other consulates, connected to charities and to the Foreigners Department of the Marbella Town Hall. The objective was to create an all-year-round business and support mechanism for those who need it most. Marisa Moreno, Danish consul and lawyer talked this year about the importance of making friendships and sharing resources for the greater good; finding the #UNMS events particularly insightful.   

#UNMS2019

The #UNMS2019 concentrated on environmental issues. Giving local schools the opportunity to make presentations of their projects and connect them with charity groups for mutual support and collaboration. Students also voiced their concerns about the lack of suitable places to hang out if not at school or involved with sports. Charmaine Arbouin has been the British consul until just recently and has attended all UNMS events. This year she spoke to again encourage the sharing of information and community integration. 

#UNMS2020 

Due to the pandemic, the #UNMS2020 event was one of the very few events that were held in 2020. However, due to so many groups being vulnerable in Marbella’s community the event was a necessity and the organisers managed to pull it off in The Harbour Restaurant. This event addressed the issues of the elderly and lonely from quarantine and how to cope with the Covid-restrictions. For charities, the problematic loss of volunteers for the Charity Shops has been addressed.   

Furthermore, guests spoke about the dramatic withdrawal of government support for homeless teens in the province of Málaga turning 18 whilst living in an orphanage. Suddenly they have nowhere to go. Kara Jaye Karadas of Hadas Caradas, AKA The Food Fairies has fed thousands during the pandemic and has been supporting the Association Inserta Andalucia. This is responsible for the “graduating” teens from the orphanages for years. As a following up UNMS2020 set about implementing a Circular Support System to find homes and jobs for these vulnerable young adults, and this system is still functioning. Therefore, the call to this year’s attendees was to create more job offers for these young adults.   

#UNMS2021

#UNMS2021 was dedicated entirely to suicide prevention and any incentives to help the international youth integrate into a tourist and transitional city such as Marbella to help them feel they belong in our community. Virginia Macari was very interactive in the event regarding suicide prevention. She spoke again at this year’s #UNMS2022 to share her continued concerns regarding bullying and suicide in our local schools. She emphasised the need to do something as a community.  This is a worldwide pandemic, so no one is responsible but we are all liable.   

The UNMS is now following up with local schools who are very keen to address this worrisome issue and hopefully implement some of the ideas from Mirjana Stefanovic. Based on her extensive experience dealing with university students Mirjana pointed out the importance of an educational campaign on suicide prevention and school children. She called out to all participants to encourage local schools to get involved.   

#UNMS2022 and #UNMS2023  

This year’s event and the upcoming April event are all about establishing a Costa communication network, or a communication Grapevine so to speak. As a kickoff, Nicole presented the emergency number booklet. But more is needed, so people always know where to turn to and through which means they can get in touch with the organisations, officials, companies, or helplines they need.   

Other speakers and sponsors  

Other speakers at this year’s event included:

  • Anne Hernandez MBE, Brexpats International;
  • Derek Langley British Chamber of Commerce;
  • Remedios Bocanegra – Councillor for Foreigners’ Department Marbella Townhall;
  • Lily van Tongeren, vice president Triple A. They take dogs to visit elderly at Care Homes again following covid;
  • Maria Maganto of sponsor Marbella Rugby Club. She spoke about the importance of the feeling of belonging that sports clubs can provide. Especially to kids and youngsters but most of all to entire families;
  • Juan Carlos Berenguer Lotero;
  • Martin Nathan, owner of Talk Radio Europe;
  • Mathilde Bos of EuroEconomics;
  • Koen de Vos, owner of Grupo DVos. He encouraged local businesses to give good contracts and decent wages to staff. One of the ways to keep talented people on the coast.   

To spread the word and inform about all new initiatives because of the United Nationalities Marbella Summit events InSpain.news is a sponsor too.   

The main sponsors of the events are Linea Directa and Fundación Linea Directa. Both are in their 7th year supporting Nicole King’s Marbella Now TV show, the Zero Hero campaign and the UNMS events.   

After the delicious lunch, all guests tried the disposable breathalyser test. It was once again well received and produced a few surprises, probably welcomed by the local community of taxi drivers.   

For ideas, tips, help, sponsoring or any other topic regarding the #UNMS2023 please get in touch through mimarbellartvm@gmail.com  

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