British nationals living in France will now benefit from a support scheme designed to help them obtain a residency permit.
As the Brexit transition is set to officially end in December, all UK nationals are required to apply for “settled status”.
Rev Tony Lomas, Chaplain for Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the area that has the highest proportion of British nationals, told Premier the Diocese wants to help people cope with the anxiety that the Brexit transition can cause.
“Brexit is throwing up a number of concerns for people here and this is just one way that we feel we can take some of that stress out of their lives.
“This is part of our outreach. We are answering that gospel call to love our neighbours and help in any way that we can, but it's simply that somebody needed to do it.”
The project will provide official government guidance, a telephone helpline, casework and services of signposting, all free of charge.
Rev Lomas went on to say that as the residency card is an online process, the project is seeking to focus on those older British expats that might struggle with online applications.
“We are aware that for many people, especially in the older age brackets, that could be a problem. So we have set up a support network, specifically targeting people 65 years and older, particularly those for whom the idea of having to do an online application is scary or just impossible because they're not online.”
The Foreign Office has partnered with several different organisations in Europe to provide help on the matter. There are an estimated 1.3m UK nationals living in the EU, with over 400,000 of these based in France.
“My prayer for the area is that we should be able to find those most vulnerable people, the people who are going to find this process most difficult, the ones who could find that it is a threat to their stability or way of life” Rev Lomas added.