Spain: creating networks and a programme for migrants and refugees

SERGI CÁMARA ©photo

«I never thought I would have to migrate, to be forced to do so», says Tanya Picón, one of the women who make up the Jesuit Service for Migrants (SJM) reception programme in Valencia.

In Spain, SJM’s first reception programmes, which Entreculturas supports in 7 Autonomous Communities through the programme Educating People, Generating Opportunities, supported by Inditex, are a ray of light for people like Tanya who come up against numerous barriers on arrival: bureaucratic procedures, lack of social and legal support, lack of income, difficulties in accessing the labour market… All of this means that migrants and refugees find a reality on arrival that is, at times, lonely and even hostile.

Through this project, we encourage and promote initiatives that create safe spaces where people feel accompanied and welcome in the host society: from providing training, accompanying in socio-legal procedures, creating meeting spaces, Spanish classes, specific support groups for women and young people, employability courses and intercultural dialogues. These activities help us to identify the protection needs of the most vulnerable migrants, who need proximity and special protection. This work is carried out in coordination with other NGOs and social services.

In migration processes, it is essential to generate care networks. «We have several lines and programmes aimed at supporting migrant women, whether they are domestic workers or other groups. Many have been left homeless and with very little support from the administration, it has been a really hard year», says Mustapha Mohamed-Lamin, Director of SJM in Valencia.

Having a home is the basis for building a life. That is why SJM offers specific residential programmes for women at risk. «When my son was a child, I had no food, no milk, no clothes, nothing. My life is changing little by little, I have problems but I am overcoming them. I am strong. Here we have meetings, workshops… My psychologist has helped me a lot to be stronger than before and to find a future for myself. I am much better», Fatima tells us from her home, one of the SJM Valencia flats.

Her psychologist, Ángela Zuliaga, explains that, within the project, the women feel a necessary stability during the arrival process. «We attend to and welcome mainly women with single-parent families, we do the process that involves accompanying them: empowering them with training». In this way, they claim that each woman should begin to build her own story» with support and a basis for meeting basic needs».

Like Fatima, there are 8,520 migrants and refugees that we accompany through this project that is committed to integration through information, guidance and the creation of links with the community and the life of the neighbourhood.

«My psychologist has helped me a lot to be stronger than before and to find a future for myself. I am much better», Fatima tells us.

Through this project, we encourage and promote initiatives that create safe spaces where people feel accompanied and welcome in the host society.