Afpop under  new leadership.jpg

Afpop under  new leadership

Chris Ireland, the new president of Portugal’s largest foreign residents association, afpop, spoke exclusively to the Algarve Resident’s ELOISE WALTON about his role, the association’s presence in the community and its plans for the future.

Having visited the Algarve since 1984, Chris Ireland moved to the region in 2000 before becoming a member of afpop and being elected a member of the management council in 2006.

“Afpop has changed considerably since first forming in 1987. Initially, it was an association of mainly British residents and visitors to the Algarve and in the early days afpop was run on a volunteer basis with no employees and no office,” he said.

Over more than 20 years the association has grown and now has more than 6,200 members throughout Portugal as well as a permanent office and staff providing information, financial benefits and social activities.

“Our office in Portimão is staffed by six people, with Michael Reeve, our CEO being responsible for the day-to-day operation of the association. He is answerable to the Management Council, which currently has eight members all of whom, except the CEO, are volunteers, including myself,” he said.

According to Chris Ireland, he intends to continue with the development of the association during his presidency, which was started under the leadership of his predecessor, Christopher Stephen.

“We need to achieve greater recognition within Portugal, especially in terms of our relationship with government both on a national and local level, and to achieve this we are following several initiatives,” he said.

Afpop is currently in the process of applying for public utility status with the Portuguese government, which if granted will mean that it is an organisation that is officially recognised as providing a public service.

Meetings with the Civil Governor of the Algarve and Câmara Presidents have also been had and are planned for the future with the aim of introducing afpop to local government and developing a working relationship.

“Also, we recognise that we need to go out into the community at large to advertise the association to the whole population, not only foreigners as we feel that what we offer is also attractive to Portuguese, and we have many ideas how to achieve this,” said Chris Ireland. “One of my personal goals is to increase our membership outside the Algarve.” 

Although there are currently no plans to open a second afpop office, it has not been ruled out as a possibility for the future as the association continues to grow.

“Road shows are one of our main initiatives to go into the community to introduce afpop to the general public,” he said, adding that in the past year, road shows have been held at Makro in Guia and Enova Group in Lagos, with more planned for 2010 across the Algarve.

Seminars on a wide range of helpful topics such as tax issues and financial planning will also continue to be organised in conjunction with the association’s alliance partners.

For those thinking of moving to Portugal, Chris Ireland said: “Do your research before you make any permanent move and break your links with your home country. Don’t come with the expectation that you are moving to England or Germany, you are not, even if most of your new neighbours are the same as you.”

For more information about afpop and how to become a member, please telephone 282 458 509 or email [email protected] Alternatively visit the website, available in English at The office, located on lote 6, loja C, Urbanização Quinta dos Morais, Poço Fojo in Portimão, is open weekdays from 9am until 12.30pm and 2pm until 5pm.