Here to retire and relax? Not if you are Caroline Langston, a Btitish ex-pat who has dedicated her time and energy to help families facing financial difficulties and unable to pay for food

It’s 11.30am on Friday morning and a small, orderly queue is forming outside Between the Lines (Entre Linhas Snack Bar) in Tunes, as local families wait to collect food from Caroline Langston and her charity Algarve Emporium. This is a small, friendly and welcoming charity, which provides vital support to these families, as a previous client explained: “Rent in the Algarve is very expensive and if you have children it is impossible to pay all of the bills and food, so we have to have help from some place and I don’t have help from other places. Caroline is there to help”.

Caroline never intended to establish a charity providing food to Portuguese families. She moved to the Algarve in 2015 and in 2017 was made aware of an elderly lady in a domestic abuse situation. “Her son was trying to get her out of that situation, but had no money to get her to a safe place. We raised over €1,000 at an event in Porches which meant he was able to move her. She didn’t live that much longer, but enjoyed her own room and a safe space, and she began to smile again”.

This was enough to draw Caroline’s attention to the level of need in and around the Albufeira area.”After that I helped the homeless in Albufeira, providing clothes, toiletries and sleeping bags in the winter,” she explains.

Effects of the pandemic
Everything changed with the onset of Covid, Caroline recalls. “Due to the restrictions imposed, we were locked into our municipality and so we couldn’t look after homeless in Albufeira anymore. Another volunteer who lives in the Albufeira municipality couldn’t get to the families she was helping in Silves. So, I took over and it grew from there.”

Caroline’s work with families in Tunes began, initially, from the back of her car until she was approached by Between the Lines with a more permanent home.
Caroline explained that there is a set of criteria that must be met in order to be provided with assistance, and that means families who can’t survive properly without help and who aren’t necessarily getting the help of the state are the priority. “There are many reasons why peopleare in this unfortunate situation – it might be from the length of contracts in the summer season, through to the cost of rent that leaves families with very little money to buy food. As another client explained: “In the summer, it’s no problem. I work in a hotel in Albufeira for five or six months, but over the winter, I need help. I have a daughter, and having food from Caroline means I can pay my rent and other bills. I am very grateful.”

The venture is kept local to Tunes. “They have to be able to get to us,” says Caroline. “This is a very transient population and occasionally their circumstances change, which mean they do leave the local area. In that instance we do not stop supporting them, but they do still have to be able to pick the food up from Between the Lines”.

What clients receive
Once a fortnight, each family receives a selection of food that includes a range of fresh and non-perishable goods dependent on their specific requirements. Other donated products such as clothes and household items are available, if families need them.

Those families who do come along for food are incredibly grateful. None of them wishes to be in this position and most of them do their utmost to ensure their need is short-lived. Many families are able stop receiving the food once their own families are in a better position to help them out. There is a sense of pride in being able to walk away from Caroline’s support, and families often continue to support Algarve Emporium in a voluntary capacity. However, there are those, such as pensioners, who will always need help – some are on a pension of €350 per month. If there are two receiving the pension it is not so bad, but more often only one member of the household it entitled to it, and if they are on medications, that will use up a lot of that income leaving no money for food.

Unfortunately, Caroline’s work hasn’t come to a halt with the end of Covid 19 lockdowns. The continuing issues with cost of living have meant that there are still families reaching out to Caroline for help. In order to continue to support the families, Algarve Emporium relies on donations, and this is where her team of 25 volunteers quietly step in to help raise the all-important €500 per week required to feed the families reliant on help. Collecting this money each month is Caroline’s key priority and the biggest challenge for Algarve Emporium.

The most successful event that Algarve Emporium held was an online bake sale. People stated which cake they would make, other people bid on them and after the online event the cakes were baked and delivered freshly to the winning bidders. Sadly, this was yet another way of raising money for the charity that came to an abrupt halt during lockdown as we recognised the risk of spreading covid19 with home baking.
Faced with an immediate reduction in donations, Caroline did as she always does, found a solution to the problem and identified ways to continue her fund raising events online.

This led to the successful online auctions that are now held four times per year. “Nothing that is donated is wasted,”she explains. “Donations are sorted into things that will sell, and things that can be given to the families. We also have a volunteer who is going to start doing regular monthly car boot sales for us”.
Better quality items are kept aside for the auction – you learn to notice the difference between things that we can sell and those that are a little more special and can be sold in the auction, the team has found. Besides the online auction, Caroline also runs a number of other successful online selling groups on Facebook, selling English books, DVDs, clothes and many other things. Plus there are four quiz nights per month at two locations, Between the Lines in Tunes and Chill Alte near Alte. All of this helps to raise the all-important €2,000 per month needed to feed the families.

Trolleys for donated food are a common sight in local supermarkets and Algarve Emporium have a donation trolley in the Food Company in Guia, a box in Jaffers Supermarket in Tunes, and recently added a box in Coviran in Tunes. What Caroline most needs is monetary donations to help with buying perishable goods. Other people can help us by organising their own events, like dinner parties, coffee mornings or fun events asking people to make cash donations. For example, one gentleman is using his 80th birthday as an opportunity to raise money by doing his first ever skydive.

I asked Caroline how much money the charity had raised, her response perfectly summed up her motivation for helping the families in Tunes: “I don’t know how much we have raised, that’s not what’s important, nor is raising huge sums of money, it’s not what we set out to do. All that matters is that we have the money we need to support our families every week. So please, if you are planning any event in the next few months, use it as an opportunity to raise money for Algarve Emporium and the families of Tunes.”

Algarve Emporium Charity is under the auspices of Associação Guarda-Chuva, registered charity
NIPC 515531928
If you want to know more about how you can help, email Caroline at

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