By Bejay Browne
BRITISH High Commissioner Ric Todd visited the Paphos cultural centre at Palia Elektriki yesterday and met with resident expats who are involved in various community projects.
He had earlier visited the Cyprus Samaritans and presented them with a cheque for €630, following a bid for funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to help deal with the growing number of mentally vulnerable seniors in the Paphos area and the impact that alcohol has on dementia. The money will also be used to train volunteers.
“I’ve been here for less than three months but I already feel very much at home. There is a large expat community and as with other expat communities around the world, this is an ageing population facing dementia, mental illness and other problems connected with old age,” the High Commissioner said
Sally Unsworth, the Director of Cyprus Samaritans, said that a month ago, the charity started a ‘drop-in morning’ for the elderly every Thursday.
“We want to encourage people who are elderly and vulnerable and perhaps lonely to visit and bring their relatives,” for an hour with family members able to have a break.
Todd said: “We really need to work with partners here in Cyprus to enable us to give the best help that we can to British people in Paphos and Cyprus as a whole. I’m very grateful for what you all do and we will carry to do the best we can.”
The guest list at the meeting included resident groups, charity representatives, community councilors and hospital visitors. The aim was to community service volunteers and also help the High Commission Consular Service deliver assistance to the most vulnerable.
The High Commissioner also heard from local people about other issues concern to the community, such as the lack of a crematorium, burials on the island, property issues and participation in local councils.
The High Commissioner said: “The lack of a crematorium is an issue for people who would like there to be one.
However, as I understand it, there is a proposed draft legislation which will go to the House assembly and would allow for there to be a crematorium in Cyprus. I think there have recently been changes to allow crematoria in Greece, so we feel this is now an issue for the House to decide. We will do what we can to support that, as people feel this would be a sensible option for expats living in Cyprus.”
He stressed, however, that this is ultimately up to the people of Cyprus to decide.
Todd was also asked if there is anything which the High Commission could do to help with problems arising from burials in local cemeteries.
He noted: “We don’t get involved in individual cases, but we are very interested in talking to the British community about generic issues and are willing to work with them and the authorities to try to resolve these issues.”
The British High Commission is also offering continued support to the Paphos Hearts of Gold Awards, the winners of which will be announced next month. The presentation ceremony will take place in Paphos on December 12.