Immigration: Interview with Mathilde, Social Worker at Dianova’s Humanitarian Reception Center


“I dream of a world where people would no longer have to take insane risks for something as simple as seeking a better life”

Since last August, Dianova Spain opened in Madrid region a new facility to help the growing number of immigrants arriving on the Spanish coasts. The center offers a range of emergency services to assist immigrant people experiencing hardship. Services include housing, food and other basic needs, in addition to a number of instruments to promote their social integration and future self-reliance, including: language skills, social and legal support, job search assistance, social skills, etc.

Interview with Mathilde Sardet, social worker at Dianova’s humanitarian center

What does your job consist of?

My job consist of preparing the pre-reception phase and monitoring the immigrant person’s reception phase in the facility. For example, I take care of the first in-person contact and I gather personal information, the person’s name, where he comes from, weather he has an ID or not, and his contact persons if any.  Upon arrival each person is given a hygiene kit and is informed of the services provided by the center, its activities, schedules, etc. Then each individual starts with the center’s daily routines and activities.

What was your career path?

My job has for quite a long time been related with immigration issues. For example I used  to work for the Red Cross where I was coordinating humanitarian aid services and monitoring asylum cases. During these years, I have garnered experience that I now apply to my everyday work at Dianova’s Center. The one thing that struck me with most immigrant people is the discrepancy between the idea they have of Europe and the reality that awaits them. Their view is totally false and they usually expect everything to be much easier that it actually is.

What in your opinion would it take to change things up a bit?

I think we should dedicate more resources to help people and improve their situation and give them a chance to build a real life project. It is in this sense that the humanitarian commitment of Dianova Spain is important because the center is not exclusive to meeting people’s basic needs , it also provides immigrants with psychological counseling,  social services, legal assistance and job search and vocational guidance and training as part of personalized action plans. For our beneficiaries, it is a professional offer of great value.

To go back to your question, I think more resources should be allocated for direct support services to immigrants, but we should also work on changing ideas and attitudes about immigration. For example, public authorities should encourage campaigns to make citizens more aware of immigration related issues.

And if you had a dream?

It would be a world where people move beyond prejudices and positions of mistrust as regards immigration, that they acknowledge that immigration can also have positive impacts on society. I dream of a world where people no longer have to take insane risks for something as simple as seeking a better life.”