Initiatives from this group

'Resilient': Re-insertion through Design.
flag France - (Emmaüs Alternatives)

Since 2014 Emmaus Alternatives has worked on promoting creativity with people on get back to work schemes thanks to sewing workshops. In these workshops they focus on adjustments, customisation and creation.

The 'Resilient' project is part of this dynamic - it involves both research and action and helps portray the value of both human beings and objects.

The project has been supported by Eugénie deLarivière, a designer of objects who specialises in teaching design, who shares Emmaus' vision of the future in terms of social aspects, solidarity, ecology and the job market. Emmaus Alternatives decided to formalise its creative ambitions and experiments in order to reach out to more people, and to do so using our own methodology and tools.

This new creative workshop uses 'think design' teaching methods with people on get back to work schemes to help them develop cross-disciplinary skills. The workshop helps encourage new ways of thinking, reacting, adapting and innovating as well as regaining self-confidence by recognising one's own qualities.

The workshop is linked to the association's income-generating activities - giving value to objects that would normally have been thrown away by making the design of these objects more attractive. These new designs will also help the association reach out to a new, wider client base.

At the same time the project helps us reach our environmental goals of reducing waste and raising awareness amongst the general public about collection, re-use and recycling.

The Goal of the Project

1. Regaining Self-confidence: a Pre-requisite for the Job Market

The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Boris Cyrulnik invented the term 'resilience' which is about an individual's ability to overcome challenges. He explained in a conference about traumatic memories that "art is about transforming the horror of the human condition".

Creativity helps us to express our frustrations, to provide them with meaning and to make them into something new. Thus the obstacles we face in life are often what help us become more resilient.

The 'Resilient' project follows on from the sewing workshop mentioned above, it too helps portray the value of both human beings and objects. The re-insertion programme for this activity will be inspired by the teaching methods used in design schools - boosting creativity, independence and know-how and helping encourage new ways of thinking, reacting, adapting and innovating.

The initiative boosts projects that promote skills, helping people to rebuild relationships of trust and to regain self-confidence by recognising one's own qualities.

2. The Importance of Cross-disciplinary Skills for People on our Re-Insertion Schemes

Cross-disciplinary skills are strongly promoted as they are often pre-requisites for jobs and help people stay in work in the long term. Some people have all the technical skills required for their job but are not good at working as part of a team, or at being autonomous, or at communicating in the appropriate way with internal and external partners, etc. Such skills are essential for job-seekers and thus they are a key focus in our re-insertion schemes.

We try to offer a range of options on the schemes so that people can have the opportunity to develop the specific skills they require to get back into work. The 'Resilient' project is meant to be a powerful, innovative way of helping people to develop these skills.

3. The Goal of Reaching Zero Waste

Today people are producing more and more waste due to our rising rate of consumption and this has a negative impact on the environment, our health and the economy. It has an impact on all of us: consumers, producers, re-use structures, citizens, tax payers - all of us could and should fight for better waste management.

Upcycling is an innovative way of limiting the amount of waste we create. Upcycling is about re-using an object or material in a new way, transforming the item and adding value to it.

For Emmaus, one of the main stakeholders in re-use in France with its collecting and redistributing of second-hand objects, the objective is to get involved in this trend of upcycling as it is a trend that will continue to grow and that is in line with our values (redistribute, re-use, recycle).

4. The Lack of Environmental Awareness, Knowledge and Know-How

We have noted that both the people on our re-insertion schemes and our users lack awareness about environmental matters and do not have enough information to be stakeholders in the fight to protect the environment, to produce less waste and to better manage this waste.

5. The Need to Diversify our Commercial Opportunities

Selling on second-hand textiles, linen and shoes is still one of the sectors for 'Insertion through Economic Activity' which is fairly profitable but the economic model of insertion schemes as a whole is still quite stretched. The current low oil price reduces costs for producers of new clothes, penalising the second-hand sector. When stakeholders from the for-profit sector arrive in the market they sometimes use aggressive tactics to gain market share in the second-hand sector.

Thus we must continue to make our 'traditional' activity more efficient whilst trying to identify new activities which could be economically profitable as well as enriching and strengthening our efforts to help our staff members get back into the job market. That is the idea behind the 'Resilient' project.

About this...

flag France - (Emmaüs Alternatives)

The Solidarity Lockers initiative began in Lisbon, as a result of conversations that ACA volunteers had with people living on the streets. It became clear that homeless people are waging a daily battle to prevent their money, documents, clothing and belongings which have a sentimental value from being stolen and that they needed a safe place to keep their belongings. “In the street, there is no trust. It’s every man for himself, you just have to find a way to get by.” These solidarity lockers are offering trust to the homeless people who receive one.

After a long design process with a local company, the first solidarity lockers were set up in Lisbon in 2015. In 2018, 60 lockers were offered to homeless people who agreed to sign a contract which included an obligatory weekly meeting with a social worker. The results are impressive: over two-thirds of those who have left the scheme have been able to find work, housing, a rehabilitation centre or a reintegration community.

Emmaus Alternatives is responsible for setting up the first solidarity lockers for homeless people in France. In partnership with the city of Montreuil, near Paris, and the Portuguese Association ACA, 12 lockers were installed in October 2018, and an additional 12 in November 2020.

With its simplicity and immediate positive impact, this project complements the work Emmaus Alternatives has carried out since 1991, supporting people living on the streets, or those alienated from the labour market, in accessing their rights and finding employment.

Far from keeping people on the street, this project is a new reintegration tool, targeting those who are most excluded. Indeed, although the solidarity lockers aim to meet a specific, fundamental need, the social support work and the social links created around access to these lockers are essential for forging a path to gradually help people get off the streets, following a step-by-step process.

About this...