The story of Montse
As a worker in the social field, Montse knows very well the challenges that immigrants face on their way to full inclusion in Spanish society. But she also points out that in many cases, for example in the labor market, the problems of immigrants are even greater than those of Spanish citizens. And not only considering the obstacles from the “outside”, such as bureaucracy or prejudices, but also the attitude of people is vital and that, in addition to facilitating or promoting change in “others”, we must also be willing to change and move forward.
¨I am a pedagogue and with my specialty I can do socio-educational intervention. In La Coruña I have worked as a social support technician in primary care or as a gateway to social services; what are now community social services. Also as a socio-labour insertion technician for people with difficulties in accessing employment for various reasons: long-term unemployed, immigrants, women victims of abuse or with difficulties to rejoin the labor market after a lifetime dedicated to their family. , people without training etc. I like community social work because you can analyze many problems and see many different groups”.
Despite being trained and having experience in such a socially necessary area, it is not easy for Montse to find work in her field.
“The problem that I see is that we are currently a lot of organizations that do social work, and sometimes we overlap with each other and we do not know how to differentiate which are the functions of one and the other”.
Working in La Coruña, Montse recognized that one of the big problems many immigrants face is that the diplomas received in schools in their countries of origin are not recognized in Spain.
“Certain countries have an agreement with Spain that allows titles to be homologated. But in most cases it is not possible, which creates a big problem for immigrants. Because, for example, people with university studies that are not valid here can come, Thus, there are few possibilities of insertion. That is why the only option for many is to work in the field, do street commerce and those things, in case of not being able to homologate studies.”
Apart from bureaucratic issues, Montse, sensitive to social problems, notices racism in Spanish society. The popular claim is that immigrants steal jobs from Spanish citizens. But she is aware of how absurd this opinion is.
“We cannot say that immigrants take our jobs, because many people do not want to do farm work. They work long hours there, there is exploitation… The other day a “seasonal worker” died of heat stroke. The farm owner has been arrested. That’s serious and those things still happen.”
Coming to the north of Ferrol, in the Ortigueira area, Montse recognizes the great impact of immigrants on the local economy.
“In my area we spend a lot of time fishing. Now fewer and fewer local people are doing these jobs, and more and more immigrant people are working in these areas. Local people look for another training and opportunity to improve”.
With a lot of experience in social work and struggling to find work, Montse knows very well the problems that people in Galicia face. And in many cases, the challenges facing immigrants coincide with those of local citizens.
“Integration into Spanish society is not easy at times, not even for the natives, as it will be for those who arrive. You have the feeling of always starting and going back again to follow the same paths that you have already traveled over and over again, to move forward. Many times it ends with depression and other health problems. On top of that is the bureaucratic part that in order to work, immigrants have to request papers, a health card, etc.”
Considering the social life of immigrants, Montse believes that many of them seek contact with their compatriots and prefer to remain in their social circles, not necessarily with the local community.
“If you go to another place, you always look for affinity, associations where there are people like you, a group of equals, which there usually are. But it is what it is about, that there are associations of people where you feel the same”.
Montse recognizes the complexity of the problem of facilitating the integration of immigrants into society.
“Sometimes politics doesn’t help as it should. For example, although some left-wing politicians seem to support greater social initiatives and say “yes, we are going to do this or that”, many times it is not done afterwards. Not all aid may come solely from the government and non-governmental organizations. There will have to be a balance between facilitating integration into society with social aid and control mechanisms so that people do not only have the option of accommodating to those aids that are never enough. People need to be willing to take matters into our own hands and become as independent as possible from social assistance. But also from the point of view of the employer, or the one who offers, certain exploitations that disturb the path to change should be eradicated”.
Although well aware of the difficulties that many Spaniards and immigrants face in their fight for integration into society and the labor market, Montse believes that there are signs of improvement.
“I believe that society changes, people change. I have to think about it, if I didn’t think about it, I wouldn’t want to work here. I think we have to think that it is not very easy and we have to go little by little”.
What is the most important thing in your life?
“Right now, what I want is to work. For me the important thing is to move forward and live independently again. Being included in this society, looking for my place, even if it is tiny, but mine. The majority will agree with my way of thinking because we all need to have our space”.