Michael Reeve, CEO afpop
Michael Reeve, CEO afpop

BLiP is about “making life (in Portugal) better”

This weekend marks the return of Better Living in Portugal (BLiP), the flagship event of Portugal’s largest foreign residents’ association, afpop.

BLiP will take place at Portimão Arena on Saturday and Sunday (October 14-15), providing visitors with an opportunity to learn more about a wide range of businesses at their disposal in the Algarve and the rest of Portugal.

“The event is still called Better Living in Portugal (BLiP), but we want to start using the ‘Making Life Better’ tag more, because this is really what the event is about – making life (in Portugal) better,” afpop CEO, Michael Reeve, told the Resident.

Around 100 exhibitors are expected from a variety of sectors, from media organisations such as Open Media, publishers of the Portugal Resident, to key entities in the Algarve, such as the Algarve Tourism Region (RTA), as well as several local and national companies.

It will be the second year straight that afpop will be able to host a physical edition of BLiP after having to organise online versions in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

“What we were unsure about last year was if visitors would still feel comfortable circulating in large numbers in enclosed areas, but truth be told, I was happier than I thought I was going to be with the number of visitors,” Michael told us.

“You could see some people were still keeping distances, and we have made efforts again this year to not overcrowd the arena. We want people to still feel that it’s safe. Last year, I was generally very pleasantly surprised. It’s always a bit of a nerve-jangle when you open those doors on a Saturday morning, but there were people outside waiting to come in, and that was heartening and I hope it will be the same this year,” he added.

Like last year, the event also hopes to showcase some of the best charity work carried out locally. But the novelty in this edition will be the introduction of ‘Community Islands’ throughout the arena. Last year, the new community section, which provided a space for local associations and charities to promote their work, was located in an area separate from the main show. However, now it will be seamlessly integrated with the main arena.

“We wanted to ensure that the Community section is inclusive and not set aside,” said Michael, adding that the idea now is for the five ‘Community Islands’ to be arranged throughout the arena along with the other stalls.

While BLiP is primarily a “business expo”, Michael acknowledges that it can sometimes be perceived as a bit “dry” due to its business-oriented nature. However, the integration of the Community Islands aims to bring a sense of “lightness” to the event without losing its focus on business.

Making a return this year is the BLiP restaurant, which was replaced last year with an exhibitor’s lounge which was not as successful as expected. There will also be the usual café for lighter meals and beverages, as well as another café within the arena.

afpop joins Movember

afpop will also be using BLiP to promote its participation in Movember, an annual international initiative which involves growing moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer and mental health issues.

“Last year, I woke up on the first day of November and decided that I was going to grow a ‘tach. But I can’t grow one, it’s the most pathetic and embarrassing thing. My wife said she actually liked it, but I swear she only said that to make me look like an idiot,” Michael joked.

“So, I grew a moustache, and I hated it, everything about it – I didn’t like how it felt or how it looked. But every time someone asked me about it, I’d use the chance to speak about Movember,” he said.

The problem was he felt like he was a lone voice in the crowd.

Thus, he approached the HPA private health group, which has decided to throw its support behind afpop’s idea of promoting Movember next month.

“We’ll have a photographer at BLiP this year and we’ll be inviting people to take photos with a couple of photo frames, one of them being about Movember. We’ll use those photos to create a montage and a poster for Movember.

“Our idea then will be to invite people in November to stop shaving on the first day of the month and then send in a photo of their moustache on the last day of the month. We’ll put a judging panel together to decide on the best one, and the winner will receive a prize,” he said.

The plan is also to host two gatherings (a “wine and cheese-kind of event”, as Michael put it) which would also allow HPA doctors to provide some information about these cancers and their treatments, in an attempt to “remove some of the fear” that people may feel about them.

BLiP has also been supporting the Algarve Oncology Association’s Mamamaratona event – a race that aims to raise awareness about breast cancer – since it was created and will again be providing space for the event to be promoted.

“The AOA people won’t be able to attend the event, but some of our staff will be there with an exercise bike. Visitors will be able to get on it and either see how far they can get in one minute, or how fast they can do one kilometre. The cost will be €2, which will go into a box directly for AOA. So, visitors will need to come with some sensible shoes on,” Michael said.

By Michael Bruxo
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