AFPOP, the association for foreign residents and visitors to Portugal, has been providing information and assistance to its members for over 16 years. From its humble beginnings in a house in the Algarve, AFPOP has grown and now boasts almost 6,000 members, from many nationalities, who are spread across the world, although most of its members are, of course, still based in Portugal.
While AFPOP is run by a Management Council, voted from and by the members, salaried staff from the AFPOP office in Portimão in the Algarve are responsible for the day to day running of the association. This is overseen by the Executive Officer, Michael Reeve. The Resident spoke to him about the association’s plans for the future.
“AFPOP will always have ‘provision of information’ as its primary function,” he explained. “While we do many other things for members, we see this as our most important role and my staff and I are constantly searching for ways to help our members by keeping them informed of their obligations. We are also able to provide benefits to our members, such as cheaper rate telephone calls and rail travel, because we are in quite a strong bargaining position with people who provide these services. Obviously, the bigger we become the better is our negotiating position.
At the moment we are establishing links within Portuguese society, for example with the Civil Governor of the Algarve and the head of the Serviço de Estrangeiros, in an effort to form a communication link to overcome existing barriers. For too long now the expatriate community has been eyed with suspicion when trying to get answers to their problems. There has probably been some justification in the past, but we are trying to show that there are those of us who want to help foreigners to fit into the way of life here, as well as helping Portuguese people to communicate with the foreign population.”
Michael is also keen to talk about AFPOP in the Lisbon area. “AFPOP has had a presence here in Lisbon for some years now, in the form of an Area Representative. The problem that we have had is getting the message across to the people of Lisbon that we are here to help them and that we are interested in them and their problems. We know from conversations we have had in the past that the requirements of people in the middle and north of Portugal are not the same as those of people based in the Algarve. With the excellent links that we have always had with The Resident in the Algarve, I am certain that we will be able to get that message across more effectively in the future. We are always willing to listen to suggestions that people, outside of The Algarve, may have about the best way to develop AFPOP in their area.”
• For more information about AFPOP, please contact the office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 282 458 509. To speak to the AFPOP Lisbon Area Representative, Stewart Austin, phone 219 855 440.