the British Community Council, Lisbon

The British Community Council, Lisbon

Umbrella entity for organisations
with links to the British Community
in and around Lisbon

The British Charitable Fund

Helping British Nationals "in Proven Need".

Contact Information

2765-202 ESTORIL

Phone: n/a

Email: n/a

Website: n/a

Full Description

THE BRITISH CHARITABLE FUND (BCF) is a charitable body registered with the Charities Commission in the UK under number 258797. In Portugal it is registered as an Associação.

The purpose of the Fund is to provide vital assistance for British nationals living in the Lisbon Consular Area, who have been resident in Portugal for more than five years and are “in proven need”. BCF assistance may be given in the form of a small monthly pension or of a one-off grant to help settle properly justified medical bills and associated outlay.

Funding is derived from private and corporate sources within the local community as well as from interest on investments and occasional
legacies or one-off donations made by various fund-raising institutions.

As can be imagined, with an increasingly ageing population and  with the constant increase in the cost of living, there is an ever-
present need for donations to allow the BCF to continue helping those in very real difficulty.

The Fund is administered by a Committee consisting of a Chairman and eight other British nationals resident in the Lisbon area. Additional
members may be co-opted at the Committee’s discretion. The Annual General Meeting is usually held in May and is open to all interested. The exact date is announced in advance through social media and by direct notice to regular contributors.

The BCF is supported by a group of voluntary collectors who call personally on individual contributors and/or communicate with
them by mail or e-mail. More collectors are always needed and anyone willing to take on this worthwhile role is invited to contact the Fund at the address given on the front cover of this booklet.

Applications for assistance may be submitted by British nationals who have been resident in the Lisbon Consular Area for more than five years and who are “in proven need”. BCF assistance may take the form of a small monthly pension or of a one-off grant to help settle specific medical or other properly justified bills.

Decisions to award financial assistance of any kind are taken at a full committee level and are based on personal contact with the applicant
and/or on reliable information on their family unit and their financial circumstances. The Committee’s decision is final.


The British Charitable Fund has evolved over more than three centuries, having its origin in the establishment in Lisbon in the early 1660s of a British Factory. This was not a building in the accepted sense of the word but was a grouping together, in their common interest, of British
merchants and factors trading with Portugal. The earliest grants made by the Factory were for the relief of shipwrecked mariners and to meet the basic needs of distressed British subjects. The means of financing these grants was initially voluntary but by 1721 the British government had set up a levy designed to finance a “Contribution Fund” which would cover not only charitable payments but also the salaries and expenses of the Consul, the officials of the British Factory, a Chaplain (“for his maintenance and sustenance to pray, preach and exercise his ministerial function”) and, for many years, the steward, surgeon and doctor at the Seaman’s Hospital.

In 1810 an Anglo-Portuguese treaty abolished the British Factory but the Contribution Fund lingered on until terminated by the British government in 1826, with the government taking over responsibility for the cost of the Consul and one half of that of the Chaplain. No provision was made by the government in London to provide aid to indigent British subjects and in the following year the British community in Lisbon set up the “1827 British Charitable Fund” to co-ordinate fund-raising and organise the disbursement of funds. This worked well for a while but then appears to have fallen on hard times. In 1897 a special appeal was launched to establish a separate “Jubilee Pension Fund” to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The purpose of this fund was solely to award pensions to needy British subjects and there is a report that one old lady was convinced that the pension she received was a personal gift from H.M. The Queen.

Those helped over the years by the different Funds varied greatly. Some had lost their jobs – usually teachers or governesses – some were
stranded sailors, others had been robbed, subject to sudden illness, or were widows of British citizens, and in one case a recipient was a circus clown.

Sundry organizational changes were made to the various Funds in the course of the 20 th century and they have now been amalgamated into one entity, THE BRITISH CHARITABLE FUND as it stands today.

The notes on the history of the British Charitable Fund are taken from “British Institutions in Portugal”, a compilation of several articles and booklets by the late Mr. d’Arcy Orders. Copies of this compilation can be obtained from The British Historical Society of Portugal. (

To carry out its vital work The British Charitable Fund (BCF) is in constant need of:

  • Financial support from businesses and individuals to help finance the invaluable help it provides to British citizens in temporary or on-going need.
  • Permanent consideration by fund-raising organizations looking to attribute funds to worthwhile charitable projects.
  • Volunteers willing to act as “collectors” to receive annual donations from existing contributors and contact possible new contributors.

Whether you lead a business organization, great or small, or are a person with a little time on their hands, can YOU help by making a contribution? Or becoming a volunteer?


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