Britons living in France who are suffering real financial hardship due to Covid-19 may be able to get help from a long-established charity.
The British Charitable Fund, Paris is expecting to see a rise in demand as the consequences of confinement take effect.
The body gives long or short-term discretionary monthly grants to help with rent, electricity, food, heating and other outgoings.
It can also help with money for those needing help in one-off situations they cannot pay for, such as repairs to a boiler or a car, a course to help someone get back into the job market, or the cost of repatriation.
Every month it pays out about €25,000 to some 100 households who would otherwise not be able to cope.
Fund chairman Richard Hallows said: “There is quite a range of situations which can cause financial hardship.
“They include pensioners who bought a house in the country 20 years ago and now find it too big and too far from the shops to manage on a small pension, or younger people, sometimes suffering from depression or illness who can’t find work.
“Often a lack of French causes problems because they haven’t been able to seek out help from the state system. They may not know who to turn to and are worried they won’t be able to understand, if they do.
“We urge people to get in touch with us sooner rather than later and, if possible, before they get into debt.”
Mr Hallows said they have seen a rise in people coming to them since the Brexit referendum as UK pensions brought to France have gone down in value. The impact of Covid-19 comes on top of that.
Applicants must have income and capital/savings below a threshold which is set by its trustees annually and they must have been resident in France for at least two years.
They will be asked to fill out a form giving details of their situation and each case will be reviewed in detail to decide on any appropriate assistance.
If an applicant’s profile, or the type of aid requested does not fall within the charity’s range of activities, it will try to suggest other organisations which might be able to help.
The British Charitable Fund, Paris has been helping Britons in France since it was founded by then British ambassador Lord Granville in 1823.
It has faced up to many difficultsituations including the siege of Paris 1870-1871, when philanthropist Sir Richard Wallace led it, and later the two world wars.
The charity is small and independent and has no government or institutional funding but depends on donations, legacies and fundraising events. It is only able to provide current levels of support by using its limited reserves.
As demand is likely to go up over coming months, Mr Hallows said they will be seeking new funds.
“Members of the British community in France have been generous, both directly and through associations, which we enormously appreciate. We need legacies and gifts to continue our work.”
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