After 35 years of working with newcomers and refugees and helping them find their way in London, a Settlement Counsellor at the London Cross Cultural Learner Centre is retiring.
“There have been very difficult moments in this job, but I guess it’s the good stuff that will stick with me. It’s watching the clients succeed and it’s not for what I have done that it’s the reason for the success, we just give them a hand and then they take off from there,” says Gisele Varillas.
Some of the things she has noticed from the past is that Central Americans and today’s Middle East newcomers all share and have gone through the same stories and traumas, but these cases involve different faces.
Gisele Varillas understands that coming from another country, where English isn’t the primary language, is very hard to adapt. One of the languages she manages very well is Spanish.
“Watching them come into my office and see them nervous and scared; they don’t really know what to do, or what to say. Then, they sit down and realize I speak Spanish, that’s a big relief for them in many cases, although not all of my clients are Spanish speaking. After a half hour or an hour, I see them leave with a big smile on their faces,” says Varillas.
She told XFM News words of encouragement for newcomers entering the country.
“Keep in mind that you have the power to do anything here. You can learn English, you can find a decent job, you can help your children continue to advance and learn, you can do all that here, you just have to patient,” tells Gisele Varillas as an advice.
Varillas strongly suggests for newcomers to use reliable sources when researching application processes.