The British Embassy in Spain has expressed concern about the increasing number of British nationals living in the Costa del Sol, who are facing loneliness and social isolation.
Many of these individuals moved to the Malaga province for retirement, purchasing homes with their savings. Over the years, however, the loss of partners and the challenges of aging have led to significant isolation for many.
Collaborative efforts for solutions
The Embassy, in collaboration with experts like Yolanda María de la Fuente, a professor of Social Work and Social Services at the University of Jaén, and public administrations like the Junta de Andalucía, is seeking ways to support these expatriates. The focus is on addressing the undesired solitude many are experiencing in this province, which hosts the largest British community in the region.
Changing circumstances for British residents
De la Fuente explained in an interview with SER Málaga that many older Brits, who initially moved to Spain under more favourable economic conditions, now find themselves alone and vulnerable. Despite having access to public services, they face language barriers, bureaucratic complexities, cognitive challenges, and concerning social and familial isolation. This demographic urgently needs assistance.
Mijas: A model of proactive engagement
Mijas, a town in Malaga with over 8,000 registered British residents, is commended for its proactive approach in working with this foreign population. The town is actively involved in community participation but more Brits elsewhere urgently need similar support. De la Fuente suggests establishing a 24-hour telephone line for assistance in English. British people could then get information, advise and help with specific issues and necessary referrals.
The need for simplified language and processes
De la Fuente emphasises the need for easy-to-understand language for the elderly. Many of whom are over 70 or 80 years old. Furthermore, bureaucratic barriers need to reduce. She highlights the digital divide that has excluded many from efficient access to services. Additionally she calls for a more rapid and effective process to accommodate the needs of older individuals, especially foreigners.
Municipalities must play a greater role
Municipalities, being the closest administration to the people, should identify the elderly and foreign population registered. So they can act accordingly and provide the necessary services. De la Fuente stresses the importance of proactive measures to ensure integration and prevent isolation in society.
The full interview with Yolanda María de la Fuente is available here(in Spanish) . It gives deeper insights into the challenges faced by the British expatriate community in the Costa del Sol and the efforts underway to address their needs.