Background to the programme
Au Lavoir was originally a project by the Social Centre of Faubourg de Bethune (a disadvantaged residential area in southwest Lille) and the Federation of Integration Centres, in partnership with the Eaux du Nord company. They then made the observation that accommodation for families was often unsuitable due to their small size and poor sanitation. Moreover, the beneficiaries of the association Solidaire Faubourg (operating in the field of food aid) had expressed their need to use washing and drying machines. Thus emerged the idea of creating a laundry service that would also create social ties and promote the creation of reintegration jobs. Au Lavoir is now an association under the 1901 law.
Objectives of the programme
- Set up a laundry service that’s accessible to all
- Promote the integration of people who are cut off from employment
- Make neighbourhood residents into actors for change
- Promote meetings and social diversity
- Organisation open to everyone 5 days a week
- LAUNDRY SERVICE:
> Provision of: 10 washing machines (5-7-9 kg), 10 dryers (5-9kgs) and an ironing space. The electrical appliances, entirely second-hand, have been purchased from Envie (solidarity network for reconditioned appliances).
> Prices: annual membership (5 euros), 3 types of tariffs taking into account the resources and expenditure of each household (student/adapted/normal) and 2 types of clothes washing support (self-service from €2 for washing and drying included, laundry service from €4.50)
> 4 employees on assisted contracts for the laundrette: these people benefit from support, internal training in the laundry business as well as the possibility of working in other organisations
- SUPPORT SERVICE for the administrative process
- MANAGEMENT OF THE SPACE:
> Organisation of activities by and for members, such as sporting, cultural and leisure outings
> Organisation of meetings and workshops by local associations (such as the Projet Association). topics covered: health, energy consumption, prevention of over indebtedness, management of the family budget, fight against waste, help with writing CVs and cover letters, computer skills... free and voluntary participation. By appointment or registration.
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
- In 2014: 420 members, 45% of users come from the Faubourg de Bethune neighbourhood and 55% from the rest of the city
- 4 people reintegrated into the workforce: 1 person on a permanent contract in a business, one self-employed and one temporary contract in a business
- Picked up by the media, in the local press (La Voix du Nord, Nord Eclair, Metro, Le Parisien …)
Au Lavoir is the first social and solidarity laundry service in France.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
- Fondation Abbé Pierre: the association is part of a collective with this foundation.
- Social Centres for implementing initiatives and in supporting members of the Lavoir
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
- Engagement of volunteers throughout the period
- Lack of financial resources to set up specific actions
- Lack of time to meet residents of the neighbourhoods
- Dependence on public contracts and changes in the municipality: the Lavoir premises belong to the municipality but now Veolia is a manager. Therefore, the association was forced to renegotiate the terms of the contract.
- Challenges of the social diversity objective: some beneficiaries find it difficult to accept mixing with other highly stigmatised populations such as the homeless or Roma.
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
- Self-financing through the initiatives managed by the members (for example the sale of cakes)
- To resolve the difficulties linked to diversity, one machine is for people living on the street. A representative of the association sometimes takes charge of the laundry for them. The cultural outings also allow it to be overcome.
Suggestions for future improvement :
Become an Integration Workshop Site (ACI) for two main reasons:
> Obtain more significant funding to put assisted contracts in place and to create the post of ‘councillor for integration with the workforce’ in order to improve the support.
> Create economic activity and thus enable the creation of new jobs
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
- This project would not necessarily be able to be replicated in every region. The key is to adapt it and to start from the needs met and experienced. We must ask ourselves certain questions: what sector to set it up in? With which population? Why?
- Collective involvement of different local actors: as much as a reference point for guiding users as for managing the space