Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. He writes every week for Huddersfield Hub.

During the years we have been in Spain, Elaine and I have seen and supported dozens of remarkable charities and groups who give their time and immense effort to assist people and a wide range of animals to have a better life.

One such group which is comparatively new on the Costa del Sol, is Simply Surviving Group (SSG). As the title suggests it is out there to help those in need, and it sure does.

SSG was founded by Val Williams one year ago and has over 1,600 members/followers and has raised 24,000€ in this short time, providing much needed cash for other charities and groups which support animal welfare and, of course, people.

During lockdown with most entertainment venues closed, it meant that many of the fabulous entertainers here were desperate for funds for essentials and to pay rent or buy food etc.

SSG was able to help lots of them along with some the venues they performed in. This was actually one of the first concerns for Val as she set up the group. She has been delighted with the generous response of people on the Costa.

Co-founder of the group is Alan Boardman who helps to arrange some of the fundraising events such as dinners, raffles, quizzes etc and he also undertakes his fascinating walking tours of the historic village of Mijas giving an enthralling commentary during the two-hour strolls and asks only for a suggested 5€ per person.

I did it and might be going again to the mountain side village, steeped in history, much of which we thought we had seen!

I am hoping to read the book – recommended by Alan – ‘In Hiding’ which is about the ex-Mijas Mayor hidden away for 30 years to avoid Franco’s killing squads. Hundreds have enjoyed the tours raising over 3,000€ for SSG.

READ MORE: Catch up on Brian’s previous blogs right HERE

A bit of good news for those thinking of coming to live in this beautiful country is the recent news that the dreaded 720 form which requires residents to declare all of their world assets and bank details of over €50,000 to clamp down on tax evasion, has been modified. It is also expected that the extortionate fines will be very much reduced, according to the European Court of Justice.

Those who received the mind-blowing fines are now hoping for a refund of at least some of their money.

Customers queuing at a restaurant in La Cala last Sunday

We hear frequently about hire car rip-offs and misleading contracts for travel-weary holidaymakers who are confronted by greedy sales people who demand added cover for possible damage, extortionate excess insurance and misleading full-empty fuel policies. I will look at this issue in future columns.

Meanwhile, despite Andalusia having the highest unemployment figures in Europe, the Spanish government has announced that the minimum wage has been increased to €1,000 per month (£840 at today’s € rate) – good for workers, not so good if your business is trying to get back to normal.

It’s also been decided that masks will no longer be obligatory in open spaces and at street level. Such a relief! And although some media reports indicate that some Spanish resorts are in deep trouble with a lack of clientele, the hospitality outlets on the Costas appear to be going OK in the lead up to half-term.