The Sheffield friends feeding fellow Brits in Benidorm as expat dreams are shattered by Covid
Two big-hearted friends from Sheffield have described how they are helping to feed fellow Brits in Benidorm left penniless by the pandemic.
Many of those who left Britain for a life in the sun are now relying on foodbanks after the Covid crisis decimated the tourist industry on which the popular Spanish resort relies.
Dolah Brown, a retired hairdresser from Sheffield’s Manor estate, and Tracey Wait, a former HGV transport supervisor from Hackenthorpe, are among those helping out.
They met while volunteering for the Project 4 All charity, which began with a group of friends feeding around a dozen people but has expanded with demand to support some 80 homeless and vulnerable people including British expats struggling to feed themselves and their families.
Tracey, who is 52 and has four grown-up chidren living in the UK, said: “If we are not donating food to local food banks, we are cooking for them.
“Everyone we help gets a good hot meal four times a week cooked by people like ourselves who volunteer our time to help others that need it the most. The charity feeds and interacts with people from all walks of life and all have a story to tell.
“Benidorm is struggling at the moment, like everywhere!
“We need the tourists back because it's not just the homeless, it's the small businesses that are owned by many Brits that are also finding it difficult to keep their heads above water.”
Tracey is retired but knows how hard it is for those trying to make a living in Benidorm, where streets and beaches which once thronged with tourists have been left virtually deserted due to Covid.
Her own son, with whom she and her husband moved out two-and-a-half years ago, is among those who have had to return to the UK because they could not find work.
Things are beginning to look up as international travel slowly resumes, with Spain having said it hopes to reopen to overseas travellers from June.
But the country is currently among those on England’s ‘amber’ list for overseas travel, under the traffic light system set to take effect from May 17, meaning people should not travel there for leisure and anyone who does visit must quarantine upon return.
“Hopefully once the travel restrictions lift it will create work once again, and everyone I speak too is holding out for the tourists to return,” said Tracey.
“Everyone’s struggling but they all wake up with a smile on their faces to brace another day.”
Dolah moved to Benidorm nine years ago and now cares for her husband Philip, who was in the armed forces for 25 years.
"A lot of my friends who worked in bars and restaurants have had to go back to the UK because they could not afford to live out in Benidorm. They had no money for rent, bills or food,” said the 56-year-old, whose curry and rice and mac and cheese are among her most popular dishes.
“We need the tourists back so Benidorm can thrive again. It’s like a ghost town without them.
"No one should go hungry. That’s why I cook to feed as many people as I can.”