British expats on the brink in Benidorm as desperate families forced to rely on food banks
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The Spanish seaside resort, which has traditionally been a popular holiday destination for British families, is said to now be a shadow of its former self as tourists are not expected to be allowed to travel there again until at least mid-June. However, the long-year deadly pandemic has already taken its toll on many British people who moved to Benidorm to start a new life with their families. The British Business Association of Benidorm, which manages the food bank, also said it was at one point feeding 100 families, most of whom were British, as the pandemic raged across the country.
Lindsey Evers, 45, who started a hospitality business with her partner Peter Chadwick, has said they are “one step away from living in the street” following the recent lockdown.
She added they have also started an online patronage page in order to return to Britain after their “disastrous” year.
Ms Evers told Spanish news website 20 Minutos: “We rely on charity and goodwill to put food on the table for us and the children.
“We have been legal residents here for years, we work hard and pay our taxes.
“Now we are one step away from living in the street.
“The coronavirus has been an absolute disaster for us and for many other Brits who moved to Benidorm and had made a good life here.”
Ms Evers added the couple has only 20 euros in their bank account at the moment.
They are also facing eviction from their two-bed apartment within weeks, and so are now relying on food donations from other expats.
Mr Chadwick added: “The Benidorm British Business Association is helping us with gas money so we can take our daughter Charlee from our house to her school and we are being fed thanks to their food bank.”
The president of the British Business Association of Benidorm, Karen Maling Cowles, added she was shocked at the amount of people she saw “struggling” during the pandemic.
She said: “I never thought I would see so much sadness and so many people struggling.
“We are talking about families who have always worked. Benidorm is not the same now.
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“You see everywhere ‘For Rent’ and ‘For Sale’ signs. The ‘Little England’ area is completely dead.”
Benidorm City Council is now reported to be renovating the “Little England” area with the aim of having it ready for the summer season.
But some British expats living nearby are not convinced they will still be in the country by then.
Ms Maling Cowles is still hopeful the summer season will help boost the struggling tourism industry after “everything improved” last summer – before the second lockdown hit.
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She said: “The food bank was created during the first lockdown with donations of money and goods and quickly became a way to help more than 100 families, mostly British.”
“Everything improved again in the summer when people were working, but since Christmas, the madness returned.
“We are currently feeding about 26 families, 24 of which are British.
“This is something that never happened before coronavirus.
“We provide them with everything they need, from meat and powdered detergent to soap, shampoo and tea bags.
“Without that weekly aid, these families would not survive.
“The British community has been fantastic in supporting those in need here. During the first wave of coronavirus, we spend around 2,500 pounds (about 2,800 euros) a week on food and now it’s almost 1,000 pounds (about 1,200) because much more food is being donated.”
However, the regional Government has also predicted if tourism doesn’t recover later this year, between 30 and 40 percent of hotels will have to stay closed, which will be a huge blow for the struggling businesses.
Britons living in Spain will follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Covid traffic light system that will be launched on May 17, which will judge countries by their Covid and vaccination rates.
The local community in Benidorm, located in the Costa Blanca region of the EU country, will still be in the amber category under the upcoming new British travel rules, meaning that tourists will have to quarantine at home for ten days when they return and also take tests on top of a negative PCR.
In Spain, only the islands deemed to be placed in the green category will be allowed more freedom for travelling.
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