British expats in Cyprus join together to help the needy

Published:  1 Apr at 6 PM
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The famous WWII spirit shown by Londoners during the blitz has surfaced again in Cyprus, with British expats joining in a crusade to help those in dire financial need.

Since Cyprus’s financial crisis struck, many British pensioners on the island have been unable to access their savings via ATMs, and the British Government has suspended pension payments due to the delicate state of Cyprus’s two largest banks. As a result, many are now relying on food parcels distributed by local Anglican churches via the generosity of parishioners.

Those who were able to get their hands on enough money to survive until the situation normalises have been chipping in with cash and preserved, tinned or freshly cooked food, all distributed by volunteers from the congregations. A local scheme to assist overseas students on limited funds by distributing food parcels has been expanded to include pensioners with no access to their finances.

As the situation becomes even more confusing, many expats fear trouble in the streets. Roy Chalker, a pensioner from Bath who moved to the island eight years ago, told reporters he has foreign friends who have received no salaries since late December, and added that many have now returned to their home countries whilst other feel trapped without any way out as they cannot sell their homes.

Many other expats are worried that the recently-introduced capital controls might prevent them accessing their savings during a medical emergency requiring expert treatment in the UK or another European country. Even drawing enough cash to cope with everyday problems is difficult, as withdrawals are now down to £100 per day.

The only positive indication, according to many expats, is the way the communities are holding together and supporting their weaker members. The feeling, according to one long-term expat, is that ‘together we stand, divided we fall’.
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