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Sep 8, 2017

Ski chairs in the Alpes

Inauguration of the new ski chairs
Inauguration of the new ski chairs

For more than 15 years now, Secours Catholique-Caritas France has provided ski chairs for disabled guests. Guided by volunteers, these disabled people can enjoy winter sports and, thanks to these trips, learn and share the joys of skiing with able-bodied people and live a few moments of escape.

The action of Secours Catholique finds its full meaning in the accompaniment of the handicapped people in order to help them to break the solitude and the isolation that can provoke the handicap.

This project started in 2000 at Secours Catholique in the Alpes. A team volunteer, mother of a handicapped girl, learned that a wheelchair adapted for people with reduced mobility existed. The project was added to the campaign "10 Million Stars" which finances local actions of Secours Catholique. This is how the delegation managed to acquire its first ski chair. As of the following year, some 20 chairs were acquired, financed by public and private organizations.

Operation "Fauteuils Ski" (ski chairs) has developed in twenty stations of the Hautes Alpes and Alpes de Haute Provence. Each season, 300 people with reduced mobility can carry 1,800 hours of skiing. This activity also mobilizes volunteers, as 130 skiers have been trained in ski chairs and 45 are now active.

Thanks to our supports, the team was able to acquire:

- 5 ski chairs "TESSIER TEMPO Grand confort" with 10 pairs of skis (5 pairs of skis for ski chairs and 5 pairs for drivers)
- 5 extra low temperature sleeping bags.

Volunteer instructors were also trained to pilot the ski chairs and some of the existing chairs could be repaired.

Last December 17, on the terrace of the tourist office, facing the Orcières Merlette snowfront, the entire team of ski chairs had decided to inaugurate the eight new ski chairs in the presence of its partners.

Then, all went to try these new ski chairs on the heights of the station to have a quality snow.


Testimony of Sandrine (Chloe's mom)

I come by this mail to thank you for the ride in Dualski with Pierre-Paul B. It was an experience for Chloé full of emotions and good feelings! We skied all together, which delighted our young child !! Pierre-Paul, with exemplary patience, has shown a dynamism and sympathy out of the common. He even sent Chloe a text message for her happy birthday a few days later! I wish you all the best and thank you again for this unique moment.

Chloe on her ski chair
Chloe on her ski chair

Jun 9, 2017

inter-associative solidary cafe in Nimes


Creation of an inter-associative solidary café in Nîmes (department of Gard – South of France)

The ANAIS network (Associations Nîmoises d'Action et d’Intervention Sociales), created in 2014, is an associative network of 37 associations, including our delegation of Secours Catholique in Gard. This network has set itself several objectives:

- To be a space for networking and consultation between the member associations of the network in order to promote the consistency and complementarity of actions and initiate the setting up of a coordinated path with the people welcomed within the various social services associations and public,

- Be an observatory, a place of vigilance and proposals concerning local situations of precariousness and respect for human rights,

- To be a representative interlocutor recognized by the public services and authorities concerned, without replacing the relations that each association can have directly with them.

The problems encountered on the territory:

- Economic precariousness,
- The phenomenon of isolation and withdrawal,
- The precariousness of social ties,
- The lack of sharing between associations for social action.

In January 2015, following the terrorists attacks in France, ANAIS network wanted to react to this situation of tension. An idea was born: create a place where people could exchange, deactivate conflicts, allow people from different social categories, different origins, to invest an area of listening, of respect to the other, expression, etc. It was about allowing all those who wished to enter this zone of tolerance, truce, and co-construction of a more just, more serene and more lasting future.

The members of this network then imagined a place accessible to everyone: a social and solidary associative café that would function like an ordinary coffee shop, a public place, a place of passage, but which would be inspired by a more sustainable development model.

The network also hoped that this place would be inter-associative, that is, it would allow different Nîmes associations to meet, exchange and think about sharing their skills and knowledge. Also, this café would be a place where activities carried by different associations would take place, in order to benefit from a central location, in the heart of the city, hoping for a greater mix of the audiences they welcome.


The project

The network wants to set up an associative café project, open to all, which would function in the same way as a traditional café, but based on the principles of sustainable development which are to "value an economic, social and ecological approach" :

- By generating profits reinvested in the project or in other solidarity projects,
- By taking part in a social and solidarity economic approach,
- By hiring people in difficult situations,
- By enhancing the skills of the populations.
- By creating a place of intergenerational / intercultural / interreligious mixing, exchanges, conflict regulation, paying particular attention to the most marginalized populations,
- By offering organic and / or local and / or fair trade products,
- By promoting sustainable operation,
- Sensitizing residents, volunteers and associations to ecological practices.

Also, in a transversal way, the network wishes to highlight a participatory approach, by soliciting volunteers, associations, and inhabitants of the neighborhood in the creation and operation of the café. This place will be an unconditional place of reception, based on tolerance, respect for differences, living together while advocating for a global environmental approach.

Finally, the premises identified to host this café will allow the creation of a secondary space, an "ANAIS space" dedicated to local associations that would like to propose activities, conferences, meetings, debates, events, exhibitions, etc. The goal is that a real interaction can take place between the inhabitants and the associations in the interest of finding help, or to engage with a team.

In summary, the ambitions of ANAIS coffee are to:

- Create and animate a Living Together space,
- Stimulate the participation of inhabitants in the life of their neighborhood,
- Stimulate the local economy,
- Raise awareness of ecology and a sustainable way of life,
- Stimulate the interactions between the local associations and the inhabitants.

You will also find a presentation video at the following address:

An information breakfast was organized on January 12, 2017, to present the future coffee shop to partner associations, residents and institutional partners. This event, whose main objectives were to unite all the partners around this project but also to mobilize financial partners.

The Association Protestante d'Assistance, a member of the ANAIS network, has a local business, located in the heart of Nîmes, at the intersection of several districts with different problems, which could host the future solidary café.

Work will have to be carried out during the year 2017 in order to bring the site up to standard and to arrange the various spaces.


Amount in €

Studies (Architect, technical control, etc.) : 8 660 €
Recycling placo : 350 €
Structural work : 5 150 €
Coating facades : 1 400 €
Outdoor joinery : 6 400 €
Interior woodworking : 2 950 €
Partitions and plaster : 3 724 €
Acoustic : 400 €
Electricity : 7 800 €
Heating : 3 500 €
Plumbing : 3 800 € 

Total HT : 44 134 €
VAT : 7 427 €

Total TTC : 51 561 €

In order to allow this project to come to fruition, during the year 2016, a project manager was hired to coordinate the assembly of this project until September 2017.

The amount of expenditure related to this project is now € 18 000.

Breakfast 2
Breakfast 2
Sweet coffee
Sweet coffee


Mar 13, 2017

News from Calais

In the jungle of Calais
In the jungle of Calais

1. Context

     Exiles in Calais

Since the mid-90s, the city and surroundings of Calais have attracted a large number of exiles trying to cross the Channel to reach England. Indeed, since the country is out of the international agreements regarding the free circulation of people within the European Union, those exiles cannot cross the border and remain stuck in the Calaisis area. Afghanis, Iraqis, Iranians, Sudanese, Syrians, Kurds and Eritreans: men, women – and children – have been transiting through Calais for 20 years now. The vast majority of them is fleeing from war or repression and is in desperate need for international protection: they are refugees that France, the United Kingdom and all the states of the European Union have sworn to protect since the signature, in 1951, of the Geneva Convention on refugees.

The authorities have been regularly dismantling the places where those persons are settling, without bringing any solutions to the issue, worsening their material and health conditions.

      Daily support

Secours Catholique-Caritas France has been involved in the exiles situation for over 10 years, and offers solutions to help those who walk through the doors of its two centers in Calais:

  • Showers so the exiles can wash themselves,
  • A locker,
  • A bicycle workshop so that the exiles living on the land can travel between public offices and reception centers,
  • French lessons,
  • Support to deal with administrative procedures especially with the French Office for Stateless and Refugees Protection

2. 2015: a unique and dramatic situation

In April 2015, Natacha Bouchard, mayor of Calais, told the migrants, in front of all the journalists: “You can settle in the moor”.

“The jungle ??? I have been there. I saw it! It’s just a wide swamp. There is nothing but piles of garbage here and there. I told myself it was the worst place in Calais: a flood zone, exposed to wind, close to chemicals factories. You can smell the foul odors when it’s windy… but I guess it’s better than nothing.” Mariam Guerey – employee at Secours Catholique-Caritas France in Calais.

This moor later became the biggest slum in Europe, a “city” of more than 8,000 inhabitants where you can find churches, mosques, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, hairdressers and much more… All of this built with wood, plastic sheeting, pallets and recycled objects.

The living conditions of these persons in this new “authorized jungle” are totally unprecedented in Europe. They do not even comply with United Nations rules: insufficient access to drinkable water (30 taps), almost no access to toilets (20 for 3,000 persons), insufficient food and health support.

The deteriorating situation increased tensions and the vulnerability of those refugees. To fight this unique situation, Secours Catholique-Caritas France and 3 other NGOs had no other choices but to deploy their skills and logistic capacities initially used for war zone and natural disaster only, to rescue those men, women and children and make the authorities face their own responsibilities:

  • Doctors of The World set up mobile clinics to offer medical consultations as well as psychological support
  • Solidarites International distributed hygiene kits to each person in the camp, as well as cups to keep drinkable water. The teams built sanitary blocks, with showers and toilets.
  • Secours Catholique – Caritas France brought everything needed (Boards, tarpaulins, nails etc.) to build, with the exiles, shelters, collective kitchens and other facilities in the slum.
  • Secours Islamique Français distributed more than 3,000 boxes of food.

In this unique situation of emergency, Secours Catholique-Caritas France invested almost 80,000€ to support migrants basic needs.

Secours Catholique-Caritas France could count on your mobilization and commitment in those difficult moments so we would like to sincerely thank you.

3. What happened since then?

      The chain of dismantling

A first dismantlement phase of the “new jungle” occurred in February 2016. The information point that Secours Catholique-Caritas France had set up in the heathland, thanks to the donors’ generosity, was razed to the ground along with some of the exiles’ improvised homes.

In October 2016, 18 months after the announce of Mrs Bouchard, Minister of Internal Affairs, Bernard Cazeneuve, ordered the final shutdown of the slum, due to the authorities unwillingness to structure, arrange and build shelters for the migrants.

Secours Catholique-Caritas France expressed several times its disagreement with how the dismantlement was prepared and organized in Calais, but stood by the exiles, no matter the difficulties.

Our local delegations along with our related association, Association des Cités du Secours Catholique (ACSC), joined forces to welcome migrants from Calais. In many French departments (Cher, Lot, Loire, Val d’Oise…) our teams helped the exiles from Calais to adapt to their new environment.

In the meantime, two of our reception centers, owned by the city of Calais, were relocated. The new center is located on Moscow Street, downtown, with showers and a locker for the migrants. The construction and running of these facilities have cost 166,000€ since 2015.

Our day care center was relocated into temporary constructions in the outskirts of Calais, on Saint Omer Road, where hundreds of young people (under 20 for most of them) come every day for material support or just to rest for few hours.

The “bicycle workshop” project had to be postponed due to the extreme humanitarian situation in Calais. We had to focus our efforts on the basic needs.

     The minors remain the most fragile

The minors are our main concern at the moment. They now represent the majority of the person we take care of and their number keeps on rising. Since the dismantlement of the slum, 850 minors have benefited from the family reunification right, moving from Calais straight to Great-Britain. Thousands of young people are still in France, adding to the 8,054 other minors taken care of.

Tensions with public authorities are still at a high level. In the course of February 2017, the city of Calais ordered the installation of dumpsters to block the access of new showers facilities in our reception centers. The Justice declared this operation illegal and had them removed. However, since then, police forces are constantly patrolling around our center to arrest the young people that come to take a shower.

     A glimmer of hope

In this ocean of pain, we can see a glimmer of hope: 16 migrants, helped by the Secours Catholique-Caritas France in Calais, staged a play in which they narrate the journey from their homes to France. “To be or not”, created from the testimonies of those 16 men, now comedians, gives life to the terrible events they have been through, with a strong sense of abnegation. With only gestures and few words, they tell their French hosts where they are from, who they are and the hard price they had to pay to come here. The group toured in Paris last November for five performances.

Today we keep on working with those refugees in Calais. In the next few months, we want to initiate a food distribution, in cooperation with our partners, and guarantee a permanent access to showers. In the meantime, we regularly call on the authorities and presidential candidates to alert them about this unbearable situation in Calais.


We wanted to thank you once again for your support in our cause. With you, we hope to bring long term solutions to this unprecedented crisis in France.

"To be or not" performed at Creteil University
"To be or not" performed at Creteil University

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