November 2022 marks the 35th anniversary of the founding of afpop – the Association of Foreign Property Owners and Residents in Portugal.
In that time, afpop has provided advice and information to over 30,000 members on myriad subjects that directly affect their lives in Portugal. ‘Here to Help’ and ‘Making Life Better’ are core phrases to the ethos of afpop.
From humble beginnings in the homes of the first council members, the association opened its first office in Portimão in 1997, moving to its current premises in Rua do Bombeiros in 2011. Current membership numbers over 9,500, with a very wide range of nationalities represented throughout Portugal.
Overseen by a voluntary Management and Fiscal Council, CEO Michael Reeve and his staff of seven work tirelessly to keep members up to date on what’s what in this ever-changing world, so that they remain compliant with their obligations in Portugal but also aware of their rights as residents here.
Michael Reeve explains: “One of the reasons for creating the association in the first place was that foreigners weren’t able to easily find information about living and owning property in Portugal and, even with the growth of the internet, that’s still the case today, with so many people still struggling to find the relevant information that actually refers to them.
“The Brexit turmoil and the more recent Covid situation are proof that we just never know when we’re going to need reliable and well researched information. afpop members know that they have that to hand, because the mission statement of the association has never changed. The team in the afpop office is ‘Here to Help’ them and they do exactly that.”
The association was awarded the distinction of ‘Utilidade Pública’ status by the Portuguese government in 2010, the first non-Portuguese organisation to be so recognised.
The last President of the Management Council, Chris Ireland, was awarded the BEM by Queen Elizabeth in her last Birthday Honours list, which Chris put down to the work that afpop has done in the community over such a long period. He said: “Whilst, of course, it is an honour to be singled out for an award, I am proud of the work that afpop has contributed not only to UK citizens but also all nationalities and in creating links with our Portuguese hosts.”
Current President Paul Streeter echoed those words, saying “both Chris and I and our predecessors on both councils are so proud of the work that the afpop staff does to keep our members informed, supported and reassured. It really is a pleasure and an honour to be part of afpop’s long history”.
Two of afpop’s original members, Mike and Jyll Pease, are still active members and remember: “We joined afpop shortly after our arrival in Portugal from the United States in 1988. Not long after joining, I took over as the Representative for the Western Algarve and also served as Chairman of the Finance and Audit Committee.
“In those days, membership was quite modest, so in the case of the Western Algarve, I contacted everyone listed in the telephone book with a non-Portuguese name, suggesting that they consider joining the association. The outcome was excellent, and we increased membership considerably.”
There is a lighter side too with social events for those that want them, arranged by a dedicated team of Area Event Organisers. These have ranged from coffee mornings and lunches to trips across the country and are a welcome source of companionship for many afpop members.
Members additionally have access to the afpop Advantage scheme, which offers significant benefits on insurance, health, travel and accommodation, financial services, property matters, shopping and much more.
Here’s to the next 35 years!