Sunday 1 April 2012

Hafal Abroad

Hafal's new office in Puerto Madryn

After many months of painstaking development work, often frustrated by linguistic and diplomatic obstacles, it is very gratifying to be able to announce today the opening of Hafal's new Regional Office in Puerto Madryn, our first development beyond Wales and truly an historic day for the charity.

Having secured our position in Wales, with substantive services in all 22 counties, it was logical for us to look elsewhere, and where more obvious than the most significant Welsh community abroad? The descendants of the famous Welsh immigration to southern Argentina (see this link for the history) retain strong ties and a common language on which we can build. Our new office in Puerto Madryn represents an important starting point but we have in mind a series of projects in other communities including Treliw and Trevelin.

Our new Regional Manager Estafania Jones-Pritchard comments (translated from our bilingual Spanish/Welsh press release): "We are really pleased to be joining the big family that is Hafal and look forward to working with our friends across the Atlantic Ocean. I had a valuable teleconference with Señor Walden-Jones yesterday and he says he will very shortly be opening discussions with the Ministry of Health in Buenos Aires in order to secure funding for our salaries and other overheads under the Sección Sesenta Cuatro Grant Scheme".

Of course there are logistical and communications challenges. We had hoped to do most contact by Skype but, if the experience of doing this with our North Wales office is anything to go by, then we will have to think again. In any case there is no substitute for dealing with matters in person. We have worked out that if Deputy Chief Executive Alun Thomas and, on alternate weeks, Company Secretary Nicola Thomas leave Hafal Head Office at 5pm on Friday they can catch the overnight Iberia flight from Heathrow to Rio Gallegos and, with two further hops on a local carrier with single prop planes (and a rock-solid 75% safety record), they can get to our new office in time for the 11am Monday morning management meeting. They understandably raised concerns about the hours involved but I was able to reassure them that from the moment they leave UK airspace the European Working Time Directive does not apply.

Exciting times and there is more to come. If we can keep to our Strategic Plan then this time in 2013 I will be announcing the opening of our new base in Brittany, the next logical extension for Hafal. In case you think this may stretch us too far then bear in mind that this is a comfortable 40 minute flight away and I have reassured Alun and Nicola that I will handle this one myself. I have already got some ideas for this and you can see my proposed work-base here.