Pattaya, Thailand – St George’s Pattaya has a track record of responding ingeniously to the social needs of Pattaya’s residents, especially where poverty and distress raise their ugly heads. Assistant chaplain Lloyd Hobbard-Mitchell is an energetic cleric who currently lives in Jomtien with his wife Susi and young son Sebastian. “Even though Pattaya has changed a lot in the last 20 years, there’s still a lot of human unhappiness if you scratch the surface,” he says. “St George’s is a small but inclusive church with a big heart.”
Lloyd’s latest scheme is certainly an original idea which he calls “health care lending” and involves allow those in physical distress to borrow for free basic equipment which can cost a lot of money in the shops. Several foreigners, who fell on bad times in Pattaya often because of sudden illness or accidents, have already been the temporary recipients of a wheelchair, walking frame and even an oxygen concentrator which was a special donation to St George’s. “The scheme is in its infancy, but donations of similar equipment such as commode chairs or motorized beds will be very welcome,” says Lloyd. “Even very simple items such as a walking stick or a walking frame, no longer needed at home, are useful.”
All St George’s charitable activities are open to all, irrespective of nationality or religion. Lloyd explains that many residents can go out and buy these items, but poverty can strike the expat community as well as the host population. “Although many (certainly not all) foreigners are covered by medical insurance, the policy may well not include purchase of items which are needed for home recovery and rehabilitation,” the assistant chaplain points out. Recent research by Pattaya Mail uncovered scores of cases In Thailand where expats or foreign tourists could not meet their financial obligations. “It’s not always their fault,” stresses Lloyd, “especially where insurers come up with excuses not to pay out.”
Lloyd is also a champion of the End Frozen Pensions campaign to lobby the British government to end its discriminatory policy of freezing state pensions of expats in most countries, including Thailand. “Updating lost pension rights at one stroke would cost only a tiny fraction of the overall state pension bill and it is only fair that those who have paid in during their working lives should not be punished simply because of where they now live.” Now that British long-standing expats can vote in British general elections, the campaign hopes that the hundreds of thousands of swing votes could be a positive factor in the future.
Readers wanting to contact St George’s about the health care lending scheme should contact Sisi on 097 97 85669. Further details about the Church, its activities and worship programs are available from Lloyd on 088 21-86847 or by email [email protected] There’s a useful Facebook page @St GeorgesPattaya.