Thursday, 12 July 2012

Support for Brits in prison

The Samaritans in Spain will carry out regular visits to Brits in jail in Alicante this week following an official launch held today.The prison director, Sub delegate of the Gobierno, and British Council and Samaritans volunteers Being in prison abroad is often a traumatic experience and receiving regular visits from friends and family can be really important. However, a lot of Brits in jail in Spain have their loved ones back in the UK and although the British Consulate is there to help and provide support, there is a limit to how often Consular staff are able to visit. That is why the Consulate in Alicante has developed a prison visiting scheme with the Samaritans in Spain to ensure that Brits held in prison get support and visits in their own language on a regular basis. This project shows again the importance that local charities have in supporting Brits abroad and filling the gap between what the Consulate and the Spanish authorities can do. The launch was held today in the Alicante central government office and attended by their representative, Mr Alberto Martínez Díaz, who recognised the importance of the scheme and thanked the Consulate and the Samaritans for taking the initiative to offer this additional support to British nationals in prison. During the launch the British Consul, Paul Rodwell also thanked the Chris, Nora and Steve from the Samaritans for their hard work in getting this programme off the ground and the volunteers from the Samaritans for their willingness to give up their time and their commitment to carrying out the visits. Mr Rodwell said “I am really pleased that this visiting scheme is now up and running. Sadly, the number of Brits being arrested and in prison in the Costa Blanca has gone up over the last year. I urge people out there to respect the local customs and avoid at all costs getting on the wrong side of the law. Being in prison in a foreign country and trying to communicate in a language you do not understand can be a very stressful experience. That is why the emotional support that the volunteers from Samaritans can offer is all the more important. ” The event launch was also attended by the Samaritans volunteers and the prison director Enrique Valdivieso de la Hoz. For more information on how the Consulate can support British nationals who are arrested abroad visit and for details of how the Samaritans can help visit their website British consular assistance: According to Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance, the British Consulate in Alicante can visit prisoners once a year when on remand, and once again after sentencing. The British Consulate will only visit more frequently if they have a particular concern for a prisoner’s welfare. There are normally between 15-20 British nationals in Foncalent prison in Alicante at one time. Assistance that Consulates of other nationalities can offer may vary to what the British Consulate offers its citizens. Samaritans Spain: The Samaritans in Spain is based on the charity with the same name in the UK, the Samaritans, which aims to provide a non judgemental listening service for people who feel suicidal or are going through difficulties. The service is principally offered by phone on 902 88 35 35. The project in Spain began in September 2005 and was launched in July 2008 with the opening of a branch in Benissa three nights a week. This was followed by the opening of the second branch in Villamartin in January 2009. In March 2009 they increased their opening hours to five evenings a week and this was further increased in January 2010 to seven evenings a week. They recently changed their name to Samaritans in Spain to reflect the fact that they are now available to callers throughout Spain. Samaritans in Spain is operated by Costa Blanca Samaritans which is itself registered with the Generalitat Valenciana as a 100% not-for-profit organisation under CV-01-042952-A and with NIF G54341466. Prison visiting: This will consist in monthly visits to Foncalent prison whereby inmates will be offered group and individual meetings with the volunteers to talk about their concerns

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