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  •  Administrative MattersPresident
    •  Are you legal?
      • We are a fully legal and registered Spanish charity. The charity, volunteer laws and procedures in Spain are extensive, strict and very different to those in the UK. We are a Spanish charity and so operate under Spanish law.

        In Spain there are different types and levels of charity. We are currently classed as a Beneficial Association (translation). In very general, simple Brit terms, the nearest thing I can think of is a private members charity group. For this reason, those persons whom we are able to help must be referred to as 'beneficiaries' and not as 'clients' as might be the case in England.

    •  You are fussy about the law. Why?
      • Being fully legal and doing our best to operate correctly in Spain was a very important issue to the founding member committee and so it was built in from the start. There were several reasons:-

        • Age Concern Espana, when we originally joined, insisted on it.
        • We wanted to be able to work with local Councils.
        • Sooner or later (as fate decrees) something would go wrong sometime and we needed to protect both volunteers and beneficiaries.
        • Some of the founder members were victims of the illegal housing situation and felt very strongly that the law should be followed and not 'got round'.
        • We wanted to be a small but high quality charity. We aimed for vulnerable beneficiaries to feel safe with us.
    •  Are your accounts up in the shop?
      • Under Spanish law the general public does not have the right to demand that accounts be publicly displayed. Indeed to display accounts where peoples' names (e.g. donors or beneficiaries) could be found would actually be improper. Apparently only certain types of larger companies publish accounts.

        However, we are aware that a few Brits see this as 'secretive' and 'hiding things'. Hence we do say that if someone has a good reason to need to see the accounts we are willing, by appointment, to sit down and go through them, in confidence, with that person. We don't want to have to do this often because it is time consuming and costly.

        We feel that assistance is needed when viewing accounts because they are very different from UK ones, especially regarding tax and VAT. Indeed explanations are needed in several areas if they are to be understood within the Spanish setting.

        Nevertheless, the accounts are properly kept by a professional accountancy firm in Albox, which also deals with the very complex tax laws and payments. The tax system is used to 'punish' by fines those who are late or fail to observe the association rules. Miss a required meeting and you are fined!!!

        Accounts are just one area where things are very different in Spain and there are many others.

    •  Who owns your shop?
      • The shop is rented from a local Spanish person, and yes, we do have to pay rent and deal with the associated tax and paperwork, fire regulations, electricity, water and insurance etc, etc.

    •  Do you have a vehicle?
      • We have to move donations for the shop around daily. The shop is our income and the donation/laundry/storage/delivery system must function otherwise we go bankrupt. Also we have to move appliances around.

        Currently we use my personal vehicle (my cost) as the ASA vehicle. It is now very elderly and unreliable. When this expires we may buy a second hand van which will be for the general use of the charity, not for one specific person.

        At the time of writing we are seeking to provide a domestic type hospital bed to help carers with bed ridden partners. This is not going to fit in the typical volunteer car.

    •  Who are your volunteers?
      • They are local people who kindly give up their time to assist with fundraising and helping beneficiaries. References are taken up for all of them before they are accepted. All key volunteers have previous charitable experience and references are taken from those charities.

    •  Do volunteers make any money?
      • Not from us and they must not from beneficiaries. Expenses have to be paid by law at a rate set by the tax office. Very occasionally one will be given a token gift for doing a special job or if they are ill etc. as happens in most charities.

    •  Are you insured?
      • Yes, the shop has the usual shop insurance, Volunteers are insured as dictated by law. We also retain a lawyer to help with possible legal problems as insurance cannot be found for this. If we can qualify over time, legal aid may become available to replace this. Insurance for volunteers and voluntary work in general is a very difficult area in Spain.

    •  Why do you pay tax?
      • Because we have to, we certainly do not want to. We have to pay business tax and VAT. Spain treats all businesses/and shops the same, commercial or charity. Basically, in Spain, as soon as you offer a service or goods of any type VAT becomes applicable.

        There are ways that taxes may be reduced in future if we can qualify, but there are set periods of time involved and we are a young charity. Basically, you have to prove your charity is what it says it is and has behaved itself impeccably. Any mistakes and it is back several years to the beginning, even if it is the accountancy firm that has made the error.

        We are currently trying for a VAT reduction and have our fingers crossed. There will be balloons and refreshments in the shop if we succeed. It is not usual to get either of the taxes completely stopped, but reductions are possible - eventually.

    •  Why did you change your name?
      • At the time we put statements up in the shop and on the forum.

        The bottom line was that it was a financial decision. We started out to be a branch of the Federation of Age Concern España, did our probationary period and became full members. However, it became apparent over time that this was not cost effective. By becoming independent, as Age Support Almanzora, we could cut running cost considerably as well as purchase better deals in some areas (eg: volunteer insurance - cheaper with better cover).

        Additionally we wanted to use local accountants and lawyers where English is spoken. Using long distance, centralised services with no English had been very difficult, especially when they were based in expensive Mallorca.

        Also the Almanzora valley is very different in many ways to the other branches centred around expensive sea side resorts. Residents tend to have rather different problems and attitudes, and there is a different level of local help available.

    •  Are you connected with the Spanish Red Cross?
      • Under Spanish law we are only allowed to work with fully legal and independent, registered charities, which means that there are some charities with whom we cannot work.

        So, we were very interested in working with the Red Cross,. There were talks between the two committees and both were keen to go ahead. To make it workable, there had to be a minimal ability to communicate between the two volunteer nationalities. So a very, very basic language course was arranged in Vera with a little test at the end.

        Unfortunately the more elderly English volunteers didn't want to attend the course, although the Spanish did, so that was the end of that project. As volunteers change over time we may raise it again and see if the volunteer response changes.

    •  Where do you cover?
      • We are centred in Arboleas and cover in addition Zurgena, Albox, Partaloa, Albanchez and Cantoria. We use the municipal boundaries to mark the edges.

        We deliberately chose to be small right from the beginning. None of us is as young as we used to be and did not want to take on a large area with all the travelling and associated extra workload. The area is set by the constitution but can be changed if needed, although it would be a large administrative chore.

        There are advantages and disadvantages to being small. The main advantage is as above. The main disadvantages are that we have to turn people away due to insurance issues if they are outside our boundaries. Also there is a limited area in which to find both volunteers and funds and it is becoming increasingly crowded with charities, many not properly legal. In reality there is quite a lot of competition between charities and it is getting harder.

        We currently have no plans to change the boundaries but it may be forced onto us at some stage.

    •  Why is the phone not answered sometimes?
      • If we don't answer at first then please try again later. Normal UK office hours would be appreciated.

        When we started this charity the Town Hall was going to help with premises. This fell through due to the cut backs. If we had an office there would be a phone and a volunteer at set times. Without this a mobile phone is carried around and sometimes it cannot be answered. Volunteers do have showers or go up ladders painting!

        It is not satisfactory but is the best that can be done until the much needed office appears. We did look at renting but rents are astronomical. Running a charity is a perpetual balancing act, we are always having to decide on priorities and thinking to the future. We do our best.

    •  Do you hire out equipment?
      • We have a limited selection of things that are frequently needed, such as wheelchairs and walkers. We do not hire them out, we loan them free of charge. We do however like to get them back when they are no longer needed. Appliances are expensive and very occasionally one 'vanishes', which is upsetting.

    •  What about confidentiality?
      • This is something we are very fussy about. Beneficiaries identities are carefully protected. We also consider it necessary to protect the privacy of volunteers and will not give out personal information about them without permission. All committee meetings are strictly confidential as is normal. Only the official minutes book is open to the public. It is, by law, in Spanish.

    •  Can I ask questions?
      • Certainly, polite and genuine queries are welcome. Please email and I will answer, as best I can, even if it sometimes takes a little time. Please also remember that things can be very different here in Spain.

        Offensive and anonymous communications are usually ignored, as they thoroughly deserve to be.

  •  Shop QuestionsShop Manager
    •  Where are you?
      • We are in Arboleas in the little square near the bakers and the hairdressers. Coming into Arboleas from across the new bridge, go across the roundabout and down the small road for a short way. This opens into a square and there we are. Parking isn't very easy, unfortunately. People usually park on the main front road, but a very quick stop near the shop to drop off a heavy bag is often possible.

    •  When are you open
      • Monday to Saturday every week from 10 till 1.30. We close for both National and local red days as required by law. We put a note up on the door when we have to close

    •  What donations do you accept?
      • Pretty much anything is the straight answer! Clothes, books, CDs, bric a brac, small furniture, kitchen equipment, toys, jigsaws. We have even been given bikes and got a good price for them. If we can transport an item we find a way to make money from it if humanly possible.

    •  What do you mean when you talk about turnover and profit?
      • Turnover is the amount of money taken in the shop for purchases.

        Profit is what is left of the turnover when expenses are paid, and don't forget the taxes that we have to pay out of the profit as well! So the profit is what is available to be used for welfare work and to provide facilities that the charity needs to function.

    •  Do you own the shop?
      • No it is rented.

    •  Can I ring the shop?
      • I am afraid not. The committee thought that a landline was an unnecessary expense, especially as most volunteers have a mobile. If you need to ring us please use the main number on our front page. There is a post box at the shop if you want to leave a note or to write.

        The shop keeps business cards if you need to contact us. They show our CIF number, our charity registration number, phone and email as well as the website address.

        The shop volunteers are not familiar with welfare or administrative matters, so are unlikely to be able to answer questions, so please take a card and contact us through the channels provided. We sometimes have leaflets but these cost money and are not always there. These come out of the welfare budget, not the shop one.

    •  I notice you use a till, why?
      • The till records the shop sales which is necessary for proper accounting procedures. Sales are additionally recorded by hand as a safety back up. The till also works out the VAT at the two rates set by law which eases the burden on the shop ladies and helps the accountants.

    •  What do you do with the money?
      • The profit that the shop makes pays for the welfare work and any purchases needed by the charity. By law the shop and the welfare work have to keep separate accounts and bank accounts. This is annoying because it doubles the cost of the accountancy firm and bank charges, but it is a legal requirement.

        We have to pay the same bills as any other shop out of what the shop earns, eg: rent, electricity, water, insurance, accountants fee, bank charges and so on.

        The shop has its own annual budget allocated by the committee to make necessary purchases for itself, eg: to replace a broken clothes rail. We don't spend more than we need to. The budget allocation is small and we manage to get most things that are needed in the shop either donated or second hand. Any budget left over at the end of the year is taken off the next annual budget.

    •  What happens to money donations in your tin?
      • We have a collection tin in the shop and several others around the area. Donations go directly into the welfare bank account and so legally avoid the taxes that shop sales have. So when customers kindly say "keep the change" it goes into the box and not into the till.

    •  What happens to my bag of clothes I bring in?
      • Donations are picked up every day from the shop, sorted, checked, laundered, taken to the storage room (near Sophias) and put on rails. The shop manager then selects what is needed and delivers it to the shop. Out of season clothes stay on the rails, covered, until needed.

    •  What happens to the clothes that are a bit scruffy?
      • The best clothes go in the shop of course, the next best go to the occasional car boot sale and what doesn't sell there goes to the Red Cross from where it goes to the poor or abroad if they are doing a special overseas drive.

    •  Do clothes go anywhere else?
      • Sometimes the welfare team take things that are needed for beneficiaries. Books and magazines for example or perhaps clothes or bedding.

        Some items go to the animal charities if they are not saleable. Stained or ripped bedding and towels for example.

        Very, very little goes in the bin.

    • Please note that the shop ladies are only concerned with shop business. As explained in the above FAQ's, the shop and welfare areas are separated by law.

  •  Welfare QuestionsWelfare Team Leader
    •  How do I contact you for help?
      • Phone: Please just ring the number shown on this website, our leaflets and cards.
        Email: Please use the email address provided on this website, our leaflets and cards.
        Office/Help Centre: Please call in here on Tues, Wed, Thurs between 10:00am and 1:30pm when there will usually be someone on duty. This temporary office also acts as a mini drop-in for tea and chat. It is located next to Mora Oil petrol station in Arboleas near the new motorway roundabouts.
        Shop: This is probably the slowest method. You can ask the shop assistant on duty to give you a form, complete it and leave it with the assistant. It will be sent through to the welfare team but may take a couple of days.

    •  Can I contact you through the forums?
      • This is not advisable as we do not monitor the forums and they fall outside our confidentiality arrangements. We do not have sufficient volunteer hours to monitor forums. PMs are usually anonymous and we do not respond to anonymous contact. We do sometimes advertise on the forums but prefer not to enter into discussion on them as this is again anonymous and can sometimes become confusing.

    •  How long will I have to wait for help?
      • We can normally respond within 48 hrs. The Welfare Team leader will contact you and if she feels we are able to provide help, will arrange an appointment with you to do an Initial Assessment of your needs.

    •  Will you help my neighbour if I ask you?
      • We are happy to take third party referrals and the only thing we ask is that you let your friend or neighbour know that you have been in touch with us on his/her behalf.

    •  What do you charge?
      • There are no charges for any of our current services. As we are a fully legal and independent charity, we are, of course, always happy to accept a donation.

    •  What sort of help can you provide?
      • Our approach to help is 'person centred' i.e. you ask for help and we assess and design a programme with the aim of trying to do as much as possible to meet your needs. For example: This may include:

        A volunteer befriender to visit you in your home and to provide emotional and practical support

        Help with practical issues such as shopping, chemists, Doctors etc and little chores around the house in some cases. Such matters will be worked out in your programme of assistance with consideration of what you need and what the befrienders are able to provide.

        Help with the UK benefits system. Frequently the Attendance Allowance is an option is needed and help will be given with filling in this 30 page form.

        We have a trained councellor when needed.

        Help with bereavement

        Information and help with accessing other services in the area according to need.

        Appliance loans, information and guidance.

        Mobility aids are also available on loan as and when available.

        We have a domestic version of a hospital bed for home nursing of stroke and terminal cases etc.

        If desired we attend the funerals of those beneficiaries who sadly pass away.

        The above are just some examples of what we often provide. As stated previously we will look at your situation and try to provide what is needed in your particular case.
        No two cases are alike; everyone has their own unique situation, so we will 'tailor make' our assistance.

    •  I heard you had a lunch club.
      • Yes, we operate a small lunch club. This is for those who need to get out and about a bit more, usually with their befriender or personal carer. It also gives the opportunity for those with a problem to meet others in a similar situation. The beneficiaries decide which restaurant they we want to attend for the next lunch and the frequency of the outings. Beneficiaries have to pay for their own food but not that of their befriender. Carers and partners have attended and enjoyed it.

    •  Do you have support groups?
      • We are able to provide these when needed from time to time, although suitable premises are restricted.

    •  Do you do other groups?
      • We would like to do so but currently do not have access to suitable premises.

    •  Can I just drop in for a chat to chew over a problem?
      • Please do. We have a temporary Help Centre/Office at the Mora Oil petrol station in Arboleas. It is open Tues, Wed, Thurs, 10am until 1:30pm. There is plenty of parking in the vicinity. We hope for better, permanent premises in the future.

    •  Can you help carers?
      • Yes, if asked. This can vary from counselling to befriender provision for that carer. As always it depends on the individual case.

    •  Can I come to you for information?
      • By all means and we will do our best to provide this on a wide range of subjects which we are continually expanding. If we don't know we will do our best to find out.

    •  What about confidentiality?
      • We are very strict about this and, in general, try to behave with discretion when attending homes. We are very aware that not everyone wants it known that they have asked for help. Volunteers sign a lengthy confidentiality agreement and we will enforce this. Even in our confidential committee meetings your identity will be protected.

    •  Do you charge for mobility aid loans?
      • No, this is free. We never say no to a donation though!

        We do ask that aids are returned as soon as you no longer need them as others are waiting for them. If you need aids very long term and find that you can afford to purchase your own then please return ours so that others can benefit.

    •  Do you take donated aids?
      • We certainly do and they are very welcome as long as they are in reasonable condition. We purchase new aids as we can afford and donated ones extend our collection further.

    •  Do you say 'no' sometimes?
      • We do say 'no' sometimes, but as infrequently as possible. We will not send volunteers into a potentially dangerous or abusive situation for their own safety. We will not help in ways which do not conform to the law or have associated insurance problems. We have a duty of care to the volunteers and we observe this.

        We cannot provide personal, hands on care. We know there is a high demand for this, but it would be against the law as we are not qualified, licenced or insured for this.

    •  Do you have hoists?
      • No, we do not currently have hoists. We know there is a small demand for these but they are potentially dangerous pieces of equipment and would need to be delivered and demonstrated by a trained person. We do not currently have such a person. We also doubt that we could get insurance for these items and they are also very expensive to buy. Maybe in time, but not yet!