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Brussels British Community Association

3 Mar 2020 11:35 AM | Tim Reynolds

The Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has established a website on the #COVID19 virus that is available in English as well as Flemish, French and German.

Contact us if you want the BBCA to post a News Story or an Event that is strongly linked to the British Community in Brussels.  We reserve the right to select items for publication and to edit items as required for style and space.

Email    BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com


News and Events -----------

  • 16 Jun 2021 5:30 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The BBRFC Celtic Rugby Club are actively looking for new players born in 2006 or 2007 to join the Club's Under-16 team in the new season.


    The club has a great offer for young players with unique opportunities to develop talent. The U16 team will be competing in the first division in the upcoming 2021/2022 season.

    In addition, each player will have the opportunity to try out for the Flemish National Team. Last year six of the club's players succeeded and this offers an excellent pathway to representative rugby.

    There is a great team spirit and new team members will enjoy being part of a passionate group of players, playing for each other in a competitive but supportive environment.

    Training is twice a week with the aim of making every player the best that they can be, but - most importantly - have a huge amount of fun whilst doing so. The training takes place at the VUB, Boulevard du Triomphe 40, 1050 Ixelles.

    If you are interested in coming to training and would like to know more please contact the club coaches: Chris (email), Marius (email) or Nick (call 0498 950188).

  • 16 Jun 2021 11:40 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Join the Brussels British Community Association for a celebration of summer at the Royal Brussels Cricket Club near Lasne-Ohain on Sunday 11 July, from 13.00-18.00.


    This long-awaited outdoor get-together around a live cricket match will be accompanied by a BBQ, tea and cake, not-to-be missed Tim’s Pimms and a tombola. All proceeds to BBCA constituent charities.

    More information to follow very soon… 

  • 4 Jun 2021 4:43 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Today (4 June 2021) on the proposal of Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne, the Council of Ministers approved a draft royal decree amending the legislation on the acquisition of Belgian nationality in the context of Brexit.


    The draft decree will provide for the addition of the certificate and residence permits (M-card) issued to British nationals benefiting from the withdrawal agreement  under Brexit into the existing regulations relating to the acquisition of Belgian nationality, so that British citizens who are legally resident in Belgium on or before 31 December 2020 will retain the possibility to acquire Belgian nationality subject.

    The project is now to be forwarded to the Council of State for its opinion.

    Draft royal decree amending the royal decree of January 14, 2013 implementing the law of December 4, 2012 amending the Belgian Nationality Code in order to make the acquisition of Belgian nationality neutral from the point of view of immigration. See more (in French) here.

  • 30 May 2021 12:22 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Our friends at the Community Health Service (CHS) have announced their first official 'in person' event since the start of COVID-19 restrictions. CHS is putting together a team to take part in the Relay for Life walk around the Waterloo Battlefield on Saturday 19 June - and they are looking for people to join the CHS team.

    Relay for Life is an initiative of the Belgian Foundation against Cancer that looks to inspire local communities to support the fight against cancer. For more information on the event see the infographic below and visit the event website.

    The event website is also the place to register for the event. If you want to be part of the CHS team then please email Maria Alpheus, the Events Coordinator at CHS.


  • 27 May 2021 3:18 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    British citizens who have moved abroad are to be given ‘votes for life’ as the Government scraps the arbitrary 15-year limit on the voting rights. New measures announced today (27 May) will also make it easier for overseas electors to remain registered to vote for longer. The two measures together, should empower more British citizens living outside the UK to participate in Britain’s democratic processes.


    New measures announced in the recent Queen’s Speech will make it easier for British citizens who have moved abroad to participate in the UK’s democratic processes. Decisions made in the UK Parliament on foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals affect British citizens who live overseas. It is therefore right that they have a say in UK Parliamentary General Elections.

    Currently, to register as an overseas elector you must be a British citizen and have been registered to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections in the UK within the last 15 years or, in some cases, you may register if you were too young to have been registered before you left the UK.

    Rule changes

    Today (27 May) the Government has set out further details on plans to scrap the arbitrary rule that prevents British citizens from voting in General Elections if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years. The changes, which will form part of the forthcoming Elections Bill, will also include measures to enable overseas electors to stay registered to vote for longer, with an absent voting arrangement in place.

    British Ambassador to Belgium, Martin Shearman, commented: “This is great news for all UK nationals living in Belgium. The issue of having the right to vote for life has been raised many times during my conversations with British nationals in Belgium, so I understand how important this is for them. This will ensure that Brits in Belgium, who still have deep ties with the UK, can continue to participate in the British democratic process, no matter how long ago they left the UK.”

    The proposals fulfil a manifesto commitment to deliver ‘votes for life’, extending the voting franchise for UK Parliamentary General Elections to all British citizens living overseas who have been previously registered or previously resident in the UK.

    Proposed rules

    The new rules will mean overseas electors can stay registered for longer, including with an absent voting arrangement in place, requiring them to renew their registration details once every three years, rather than annually.

    Electors will be able to reapply for a postal vote or refresh their proxy vote at the same time as renewing their voter registration, streamlining the process and helping to ensure overseas electors have appropriate voting arrangements in place ahead of an election.

    Those who are entitled to vote should always be able to exercise that right freely, securely and in an informed way. The Government's wider Elections Bill also aims to improve access to voting for electors with disabilities; prevent foreign interference by hostile actors; tackle electoral fraud by post, proxy, in polling stations or through intimidation and undue influence; and increase transparency and accountability within our elections.

    Overseas electors will only be entitled to register in respect of one UK address. Clear rules will be put in place regarding the address under which an overseas elector may register, while also ensuring that the individual continues to have a demonstrable connection to a UK address. Individuals will apply to register at the last address at which they were registered, or, if they were never registered, at the last address at which they were resident.

    This proof of a last address can be demonstrated in a number of ways: by checking past copies of the electoral register where these are accessible; by checking other local data (e.g., council tax records) which the ERO has access to; through documentary evidence or, failing the above; an attestation from another registered elector.

    Overseas electors registered in Great Britain will continue to be able to vote by proxy, by post, or in person if they happen to be in their constituency on polling day.

  • 22 May 2021 5:52 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    BBCA long-time partner charity, the British Charitable Fund (BCF), has recently published its 2020 Annual Review and held its Annual General Meeting. The 2020 review outlines the BCF’s activities during a uniquely difficult period with the Covid crisis and associated social and economic issues caused by the pandemic. How did the BCF respond? And what can you do to help?


    Writing in the review, BCF President Ambassador Martin Shearman noted that: “over the last twelve months, the toll extorted by Coronavirus had been heavy, but come what may, living through the last year has shown us how much kindness, selflessness and concern for others matter. The British Charitable Fund embodies those virtues.”

    The British Charitable Fund was founded in 1815, at the request of the Duke of Wellington, to help injured soldiers and their dependants who remained in Belgium after the Battle of Waterloo. Over 200 years later, the charity continues to help British nationals and their dependants in Belgium in times of need.

    2020 and the BCF

    “During 2020, the Covid pandemic threw a very harsh spotlight onto the societies we live in today,” says Julie Huckle, BCF Chairman, in the Review. “The inability of people to go about their normal daily business meant that livelihoods were threatened, income was cut, social contact was virtually eliminated and, unless you were adept at virtual interaction, the risks associated with isolation were very, very real.”

    “The coronavirus has affected all of our lives to one degree or another, but I am proud to say that BCF volunteers have continued to act and make a difference to people’s lives,” she continues. “The tenacity and consistency of my BCF colleagues in 2020 has been exemplary and I am so glad to report that, when the test of man’s humanity to man comes, BCF volunteers stand ready.”

    “Despite the pandemic, we were able to continue benefiting from our supporters’ financial assistance and we are and will remain very grateful for this,” Julie concludes.

    The work of the BCF basically relies on two major resources. Time, which BCF volunteers bring in quantity, and money, which the BCF’s supporters continue to provide and for which the Beneficiaries of BCF resources, and their families, are extremely grateful.

    Barbara Blackwell

    At the AGM, the BCF remembered one of its longest-serving and greatly cherished volunteer members, Barbara Blackwell MBE, who passed away peacefully at her Brussels home in October 2020. Barbara was a very long-term resident of Brussels having first moved here with her family before World War II. She returned to Brussels after the war in 1948 and, with her husband Blackie Blackwell, was at the heart of British community activities, including the BBCA, for decades.

    Barbara was on the Board of the BCF for over 40 years, making weekly visits to beneficiaries who needed support. For this work she was awarded an MBE 30 years ago for services to the British Community in Brussels. Her contribution to BCF, and to the wider community, was immense.

    What does the BCF do?

    People come to the BCF in times of personal crisis. They may be young or old, long-term residents in Belgium, new arrivals, or just passing through. They come from all walks of life. The BCF is non-denominational and non-judgemental, and simply does what is required to get lives back on track.

    See below a range of BCF case studies that illustrate the kind of work the charity undertakes and the wide variety of people that they help. Names in the examples have been changed to protect identities.

    Case study: Margaret

    The BCF was asked to help Margaret who was widowed in February 2019. She needed immediate help with administrative procedures but also required support as she began to suffer from the onset of dementia. Margaret was always cheerful, bright and grateful for the help she received but was quite alone in Belgium. The BCF managed her administrative affairs, helped with medical and hospital visits and facilitated her return to the UK in September 2020 to live in secure accommodation. Her family solicitor remarked that BCF had quite probably saved Margaret’s life.

    The problems people encounter are many and varied and can turn lives upside down. For instance, coping with administrative requirements upon the loss of a spouse can often be daunting, and loneliness and isolation (often coupled with money issues) can be longer-term problems for many people, not necessarily just the elderly. Language barriers only add to the difficulties for many and continued uncertainty following Brexit adds yet another layer of anxiety for many people, often the most vulnerable amongst us.

    Case study: George

    George lived happily in Brussels for 10 years and seemed to be in good health. He regularly visited his family in the UK but they grew concerned because of changes in his behaviour. At their request, the BCF met George following a call from the owner of his favourite Brussels café after George lost both his wallet and his passport. Working closely with the British Consulate, George’s situation was stabilised and he was found a place in a care home where he now lives happily and safely. George’s sister is certain that the BCF’s help saved George’s life.

    As the case stories demonstrate, the BCF can help with advice, financial support, and regular visits to help combat loneliness. There is no limit to the type of help BCF gives which can range from having a weekly meeting over a cup of tea, to arranging legal or financial advice, to providing significant long-term financial support. The BCF works as a committee and is a group of unpaid volunteers. The BCF works in conditions of the strictest confidentiality and, whilst costs are kept to an absolute minimum, it is an ‘agency of last resort’ and only steps in when applicants have exhausted the normal means of support from family or government sources. However, the BCF’s structure enables them to react fast (often within a day), and support can last for as little as a few days, or continue for many years.

    Case study: The West Family

    The West family - a young couple with a new-born baby - came to Belgium for work but their situation was seriously impacted by the Covid pandemic and they found themselves with no income. The British Consulate was able to contact local social care providers who could help the couple and the BCF was able to relieve some of their financial pressures, not least the threat of eviction from their rented apartment.

    The BCF works closely with other organisations that also help British nationals in Belgium. Many of the BCF’s beneficiaries come to them via organisations such as the Royal British Legion (RBL), the Community Help Service (CHS) and the Wednesday Club, as well as the Anglican churches.

    Case study: Long-term Support

    Terrorist attacks do not distinguish between nationalities and British victims were amongst the casualties in the terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016 in Belgium. Foreign victims in particular required support from their own countries. The BCF mobilised help quickly in conjunction with the Embassy, Consulate and UK Police. More than five years later, the BCF continues to give much needed logistical and moral support to those who were injured or lost a spouse that day.

    The BCF liaises regularly with the Consulate and the British Embassy who, when their powers to intervene are limited, have referred cases to the BCF.

    How can you help?

    In a world where vulnerable people can easily find themselves in difficult situations, the calls on the BCF’s resources are continually increasing. New volunteers are always welcome and, should you have some time to spare, please consider join the organisation in helping people less fortunate than ourselves. You can contact BCF via their website: www.bcfund.be.

    Alternatively, you could consider donating to help BCF continue its work. As a registered Belgian charity all donations over EUR 40 are tax deductible. You can make a bank transfer to the British Charitable Fund account – IBAN BE37 3101 8900 8428 - with the message ‘Donation’ and please include your address or email details so that the BCF can stay in touch. Donate today! 

  • 28 Apr 2021 10:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Topic: BBCA Annual General Meeting

    Time: May 25, 2021 06:30 PM Brussels

    The Annual General Meeting of the BBCA will be held on Tuesday 25 May 2021 via Zoom in the presence of our Honorary President, HE The British Ambassador to Belgium, Martin Shearman CVO. The Zoom link for the meeting will be open from 18:30 with the AGM starting at 18:45. The agenda for the meeting is available here and the minutes of the previous AGM held on 15 July 2020 can be found here.

    Please register for the AGM via this link. For security reasons, only registered participants will be sent the link to access the Zoom meeting. If you have any difficulties accessing registration, have other queries about the AGM or wish to add an agenda item under ‘AoB’, please send a message to bbca.members@gmail.com

    If you wish to stand for election to the BBCA Conseil d'Administration (BBCA Council) for 2021-2022 a nomination form can be accessed here.

    If you are unable to attend the AGM and you wish to appoint a member of the BBCA Council to vote on your behalf, a ‘Proxy’ form can be found here. Current members of the BBCA Council are listed on the BBCA website here. Proxy forms and nomination forms must be returned to the BBCA before Friday 21 May 2021 via bbca.members@gmail.com.

    Please note that only paid-up members of the BBCA on 25 May 2021 are eligible to vote and to become members of the BBCA Council. Subscriptions for 2021 have been set at students €10, individuals €20, family €25, and groups €30 and can be paid by transfer to the BBCA bank account BE38 3631 6982 1172 BIC: BBRUBEBB. Please note the new bank account number.

    I look forward to seeing you at the AGM.

    Yours sincerely,

     

    Glenn Vaughan

    Chair BBCA

     

    Links:

    2021 AGM agenda – https://bit.ly/3eXXsyK

    2020 AGM Minutes - https://bit.ly/3h6pzi2

    2021 Registration link - https://bbca.wildapricot.org/event-4275226

    2021-22 Nomination Form - https://bit.ly/3elVsBi

    2021 AGM Proxy form - https://bit.ly/3h2qakJ

    2020-21 BBCA Council members - https://bbca.wildapricot.org/About-Us
  • 23 Apr 2021 8:23 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The Belgian Consultation Committee on COVID19 met today (23 April) and confirmed its previous timetable for relaxing the lockdown in the coming weeks. The details of how the relaxation will be implemented were announced.


    The announcement confirmed:

    1. End of the Easter break (outer bubble, shops and contact professions)

    The committee reconfirmed the end of the Easter break on 26 April. This means that from Monday it is possible to meet outdoors in groups of up to ten people.

    From Monday, traders can also receive their customers without an appointment. It is no longer mandatory to shop alone; you can be accompanied by another member of the household.

    Non-medical contact professions - including hairdressers and beauty specialists - are reopening under the conditions of reinforced protocols.

    2. Terraces opening

    The conditions for opening the terraces at bars and restaurants from 8 May have been set as follows:

    • Maximum of 4 people per table (or people from the same household)
    • At least 1.5 meters between tables
    • Seating at table only
    • Wearing a mask is compulsory for staff and customers whenever they are not seated at the table
    • Bar service is not allowed
    • Customers may occasionally and briefly be able to access the interior of the bar/ restaurant to use the sanitary facilities, to gain access the terrace, or to pay.
    • Opening hours are restricted to 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

    3. Events

    The committee also endorsed the previous decisions relating to the cultural and events sector for the month of May. This concerns major events such as cultural and other performances, competitions and trade fairs.

    This means that outdoor activities for up to 50 people will be allowed during the month of May. A series of indoor test events will also be organized.

    In June, outdoor activities will be possible for up to 200 people. For indoor activities, the maximum room occupancy will be 75% of the CIRM (Covid Infrastructure Risk Model), with a ceiling of 200 people.

    Wearing a mask and respecting an appropriate physical distance will always be mandatory during indoor and outdoor events. For indoor events, participants should always be seated.

    4. Youth activities and clubs

    The committee reconfirmed that from 8 May organized activities (e.g. sports club or association) outside will be authorized with a maximum of 25 participants, for all ages, without public and without overnight stay. Children up to and including 12 years old can meet indoors with a maximum of 10 participants.

    From 25 June, indoor and outdoor activities will be permitted with a maximum of 50 participants. Regarding youth camps, overnight stays will also be authorized from this date. Fairs and flea markets and non-professional flea markets will also be authorized from June.

    5. Importance of vaccination and personal responsibility

    The gradual reopening of the economy and the resumption of social life must keep pace with the vaccination campaign. The Consultation Committee therefore calls on all citizens to be vaccinated: when you receive an invitation to be vaccinated, make an appointment immediately. The invitation is a ticket not only for your freedom, but also for the freedom of all of us.

    The relaxation of the rules is being done step by step. More freedom also means more individual responsibility. By ensuring everyone's safety in the days and weeks to come, we can look forward to a great summer.

    Original press release (in French) here.

  • 20 Apr 2021 2:24 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)


    Full Circle - the Brussels-based 'ideas club' has a couple of interesting 'e-Salon' events on its agenda for April and May.

    First off is Hugh Pope in conversation with Ásdís Ólafsdóttir: Making Sense of the Middle East which is happening on Thursday 22 April from 7.00 to 8.30pm CET.


    Hugh Pope has lived and worked in the Middle East for more than 30 years. Get a unique perspective from a regional expert on the role of information in conflict. Unpick how understanding the context is a precondition for peace.

    More information and booking here.

    The second event is on Thursday 20 May from 7.00 to 8.30pm CET and asks: 'Is climate change the next big populist cause?' with public intellectual Catherine Fieschi.


    Is there any consensus among Europeans on the need to address climate change? Will policy making in Europe on climate issues further fragment our political landscape? Could it leave the way open for populists to take up the mantle of freedom fighters while climate supporters become more authoritarian? Unpack the meaning and political consequences of the latest research with us.

    More information and booking here.

    Find out more about Full Circle here.

  • 20 Apr 2021 12:36 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    BBCA supporters The Fry Group are holding a webinar on 'Why you should consider building ESG investing into your portfolio' on Thursday 29 April 2021 from 11h00 (EU time). The webinar is free but requires prior registration. 


    There was a time when environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues were the niche concern of a select group of investors who tended to have strong ethical or socially responsible views. Times are changing though, and now many of us are keen to consider ESG investment in our portfolios.

    In this webinar you will hear from a panel of expert speakers who will be sharing their thoughts on why ESG is increasingly relevant and an approach that all investors should consider.

    The speakers include Charlotte Yonge, Fund Manager at Troy Asset Management and Andy Aitken, CEO & Co-Founder at Honest Mobile. There will also be an opportunity for Q&A with the panel and Charlie Buxton, Portfolio Manager at The Fry Group.

    What can I learn from this webinar?

    • What ESG investing means and why it's more relevant today
    • An overview of some of the key points
    • Examples of how companies and fund managers approach ESG investing

    Click here to register and receive the webinar link

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