There is a great deal of misinformation floating around about the mission of the Chiclana Foreign Residents Association. Specifically, that it exists primarily, or even solely, to help members with legalisation/urbanization issues and obtaining legal electricity. Although both of these issues are certainly a priority with us, they are only two among many issues we want to address, and Chiclana Council is only one of the organizations and service providers we want to communicate with and influence. ChiFRA was born out of the necessity for the foreign resident community, and our issues/problems, to be represented to the Ayuntamiento by a small committee rather than by thousands of individuals. It provides us a door to the Ayuntamiento which did not exist before and access to word "from the horses' mouths" rather than the rumour mill. Membership of ChiFRA gives you a voice in these processes, to these organizations, with the weight of a large population.
Additionally, ChiFRA intends to acquire and maintain a "library" of information on common issues and problems encountered by the foreign community .e.g. how to renew your residencia, who needs a will and how do you get one, how to attain the best medical care etc, and provide translated copies of current affairs newspaper/magazine articles pertinent to foreign residents. If you are having difficulty with something, chances are that one of the ChiFRA members has had the same problem and can provide invaluable help. As a member, you have access to this network and its growing database of useful information.
ChiFRA provides access to, and reduced rates with, a law office of English-speaking, Spanish lawyers who are highly informed on issues important to us, and who are well connected to the political and service organizations. Part of their service is to provide free initial counselling on affairs of legalisation/urbanization/lack of electricity and what, if anything, you can do next to improve your situation.
Another goal of ChiFRA is to offer opportunities to engage socially with people of like mind and similar lifestyles whatever their nationality. We intend to also broker different social clubs and organizations around pastimes like book reading, playing cards, football, fishing, and any other activity that might be of interest to members.
It is important for achieving our aims to have the support of the local English-speaking community - en masse. It is confusing to the people we deal with if there are only a small number of members in an organization that is representing the views and interests of thousands. So we are asking you to join ChiFRA. If you're already a member, we are asking you to recruit your friends and neighbours - all are welcome.
We have heard three major reasons for not joining: (1) "I have an urbanised home and legal electricity, so I don't need ChiFRA,” (2) "Membership is too expensive; what do I get for my money?" and (3) “I don’t want to turn Chiclana into a ‘little England’, I came here to enjoy a Spanish lifestyle”.
Regarding (1), hopefully the above explanation of all of the things we are doing and want to do will belie that argument. ChiFRA has something for everyone, whether you have problems or not. As to (2) and the cost of membership, we are exploring a number of possibilities to gain the income we need to run the organization from sources other than membership. Should we accomplish this, we will be able to reduce subscriptions significantly in the future and offer a reduced membership fee to those who have paid at the current rate.
As to (3), none of us want Chiclana to be like the Costa de Sol, but not everyone speaks fluent Spanish and ChiFRA can help provide information about what’s going on, what’s available and how to find it, for those who need a little help. The only thing we do want to change is the difficult position some people find themselves in without electricity and/or living in homes which are under threat. No-one should have to live in those circumstances whichever country they live in. Chiclana is a great place to live and we simply want to make it easier for everyone to enjoy it and get the most from the place, the people and the culture.
ChiFRA is growing and we need your support. There is a great opportunity here to have our voices heard at the highest levels of local government and beyond, and to help us all better integrate into the local community. Please become a member of the Association and join us in these endeavours.