The current health crisis, and the resulting lockdown last March, has hit the most vulnerable people in our society hard. For the homeless men and women, the isolated, elderly or disabled, or even families with very poor resources, the health emergency has also - and first become - food and social.
The exceptional and unprecedented circumstances initially forced us to close our reception centers and suspend all our activities so as not to endanger our volunteers, employees and the people we welcome.
However, to continue to help them, Secours Catholique has pursued its mobilization. All over the country, volunteer teams have organized themselves to continue their support in new ways, while respecting health guidelines.
While the collective distribution of meals was made difficult to organize in satisfactory sanitary conditions, the use of service vouchers appeared to be one of the preferred actions at first, to maintain decent access to products for people in difficulty. basic necessities of their choice (food and hygiene products).
A service check is like a currency, it allows the person who has it to pay for shopping in supermarkets according to the face value (written above) of the allocated check.
Four pooled orders for our entire network have been completed since March 20 for a total amount of 4.8 million euros, or 96,000 books of service vouchers ordered.
These service vouchers has allowed poor families to do their shopping in the stores currently open.
The vouchers' distribution is done in strict compliance with the conditions of a "secure action", defined by Secours Catholique in the following terms:
- Give priority to pro-active contacts with our publics : Deposit in an envelope, on the threshold of the door, in the letter box. Accompany the filing with a phone call before and after.
Exceptionally and only under the condition of a system piloted by the public authorities, and after internal validation by a safety committee, going back and forth is possible in collective places of the squat or slum type, in strict compliance with the regulations. sanitary instructions.
- Individual distribution, during an organized reception, by appointment: a distribution method as a last resort. In this context, the reception must be individual, the space and reception conditions must be arranged to ensure compliance with the rules of social distancing.
To date, out of a total order of € 4.8 million for service vouchers, € 4,040,823 have been distributed, ie nearly 81,000 check books.
More than 60% of the situations helped were families.
Support, maintaining social ties despite the distance
Our volunteers, very committed, have thought about all the actions that can be undertaken under optimal security conditions for the people welcomed, for volunteers and employees. Thus, new forms of support for these very fragile audiences quickly emerged.
In Paris, for example, women hosted by number 115 (social emergency services) are confined with their children in their hotel rooms. Most are isolated and without resources and still count on the support of Secours Catholique. "I have not yet been out since the start of the lockdown because I am afraid that Angelo, my three-year-old son, will touch everything and catch the virus," says Justine, of Cameroonian origin, who lives in a room in 7 m², in a hotel in Aubervilliers. “It's like jail here. "
Fortunately, there are digital contacts with the volunteers of APAME (Food aid for mothers and their children) of Secours Catholique in Paris and other families: WhatsApp groups to discuss, share their stress and their concerns. and, since the start of the lockdown, video calls every two nights.
Alice and Fatima, two volunteers, visited each family at the hotel, while respecting the strict rules of health safety: no direct contact, wearing a mask and gloves, with permission to leave for “Assistance to the most vulnerable”.
Usually, these women come on Saturdays to pick up a food parcel at Secours Catholique premises. Last Saturday the package was brought to them. In addition to the distribution of foodstuffs - "some had nothing left to eat" - the Secours Catholique gave mothers soaps, gloves, posters explaining barrier gestures and also travel authorizations because many cannot read nor write.
Another initiative is that all year round, Secours Catholique volunteers support students in their schooling or adults in learning French. The lockdown deprives them of these weekly meetings. However, it was out of question of abandoning the students. In Guyancourt (78) and throughout France, volunteers used instant messaging applications to help their students.
In Vaucluse (84), Hérault (34) or even in Dordogne (24), throughout the Secours Catholique delegations, telephone lines have been set up to maintain links with the most vulnerable people and more isolated, very weakened by compulsory confinement.
In Berry (18), a very rural department, the volunteers of St George sur Arnon set up a drive-thru with the merchants of the town in order to deliver the confined inhabitants.
This unprecedented health crisis and the resulting confinement for the population has unfortunately highlighted the digital fraction from which the most precarious households that we welcome suffer. Teleworking, home schooling, maintaining the social link at a distance, these new habits which have exploded thanks to digital since the start the of the lockdown are inaccessible for the most precarious households. We have therefore set up a partnership with Emmaüs Connect and Orange in order to be able to equip, at a lower cost, the households that we support with 4G keys, phones, tablets and computers but also some of our volunteer teams to enable them to continue their support with families.
23 delegations have benefited from this hardware equipment for a total of € 80,000 to date:
- 250 tablets and 19 PCs (donation)
- 342 tablets
- 210 computers
- 137 phones (smartphone or basic)
- 79 mobile connections (and as many recharges)
This material made it possible to equip, on the one hand, precarious households but also our local teams to promote remote actions such as learning French, tutoring or even access to rights.
Solidarity baskets of vegetables and fresh products
In the context of confinement, the food budget of many French people (families and students in particular) have increased while food aid associations mainly deliver dry products in order to limit handling operations. On the other hand, many producers have had to reorganize themselves to sell their products, due to the lack of open markets or places for collective catering (public and private).
In addition to the vouchers operation deployed by the association since March, delegations that wishes so have been able to set up a distribution of baskets of vegetables or fresh produce, with the objective of double solidarity . First with people supported by Secours Catholique who would benefit from quality fresh products, then with local producers and / or social integration structures through market gardening.
19 delegations have thus developed partnerships to offer solidarity-based expense baskets, like our Franche-Comté delegation.
Secours Catholique have thus spent € 40,000 to set up these solidarity baskets.
The context of the health, economic and social crisis has made it more necessary than ever to organize collective and healing time for children and families in precarious situations during the summer. In fact, collective stays correspond to social time that makes a strong contribution to the education of children. This socializing experience offers the opportunity to meet new people, to discover other ways of living, other cultures. These peaceful parentheses help in learning to live together, reconciling the joy of living, the awakening of curiosity, tolerance and citizenship. Sports practice is a particularly relevant support for promoting autonomy, social ties and the well-being of all.
The partnership between Secours Catholique and UCPA aimed at setting off on educational and sports trips for children and adolescents in precarious situations, with the support of Secours Catholique delegations in the territories. The opportunity for young people to live a collective and sporting holiday experience in inclusion with other children from all socio-cultural backgrounds.
The educational project:
- Develop their autonomy within a group, in the activity and in the environment.
- Encourage and be an actor of the social bond, meet and respect others whatever their differences.
- Increase your well-being and enjoyment in the practice of sports.
- Inhabiting space responsibly, becoming aware of its way of life and its culture.
The young people went on holiday for a week between July 25 and August 16, 2020, the opportunity for them to discover a very rich natural environment and various sports activities such as archery, cycling, circus arts, water sports, sliding and many other activities.
In total, 278 children were able to share collective time thanks, on the one hand, to partnerships with UCPA but also thanks to the holiday camps organized by the Secours Catholique delegations.
The amount of expenditure to date for sending children on collective vacation stays amounts to € 117,500.