Samir smiles at the volunteer who pours him a coffee, but beware, no milk. “I am not Norman! he jokes. “I don’t necessarily come first for breakfast, I come for the volunteers and for the people”, he explains to us, turning to his two precarious comrades, who accompany him to the table of the “Petits -solidarity lunches” this morning at the Forum des images, within the Forum des Halles.
A device launched since December 2022 in several cultural places in Paris during the winter, and that the assistant to the solidarity of the City of Paris, Léa Filoche, will perpetuate, she announces to 20 minutes and the heads of the participating associations, The Chorba And the Salvation Army Foundationthis Friday, March 17, for a budget of 80,000 euros.
Seven cultural institutions
Among the hundred or so daily beneficiaries of “breakfasts”, 39% are homeless, 21% have accommodation and 15% live with a third party. Like Stéphane, who lives in the emergency accommodation center in the 16th arrondissement La Promise de l’aube, which had provoked numerous opposition from the inhabitants of the district when it was created in 2016. “He is a bourgeois! “, jokes his sidekick Samir, who has been on the street for more than ten years, essentially tries after having squatted for a time “left, right”, with friends.
Initially launched by La Gaîté Lyrique, the Parisian performance hall, in 2021, the system was extended in 2022 to the Center Pompidou, the Bourse du Commerce, the House of Canopée amateur artistic practices, the Canopée Media Library, the Espace Lafayette Anticipations and the Forum des Images, seven institutions in all. “Following the confinements, we got together to see what worked, and we said to ourselves that we did not cover all the times and that in the morning, we had to hang on to find a coffee. », explains Léa Filoche. This came up with the idea of “solidarity breakfasts”, which have already served more than 6,900 trays of bread and coffee last year and more than 3,000 in December 2022 and January 2023.
“Everyone must have the right to culture”
The original idea of the concept was to mix culture and food, and not just because it rhymes. “It’s important not only to nourish the body but also the human,” comments Guillaume Latil, director of the Salvation Army Foundation, who welcomes the good news just announced by the assistant to the Solidarities. Six activities were offered to the beneficiaries, including a museum visit, dance workshops or even an activity in the media library, which opened its doors earlier on purpose.
“Everyone must have the right to culture and even more people who have a limited horizon”, comments Samuel Coppens. Emmanuel Ollivier, director of establishment and Ile-de-France structures of the Foundation, is already wondering “what impact these cultural activities will have on the public” and “how to think about this culture with regard to the public”.
“You are worth what I give you”
The device includes a hundred volunteers, including thirteen active that Friday morning. “I wanted a certain contact and exchange. We send emails every day, we don’t save lives! commented Stanislas, who came here with three other colleagues from the strategy and consulting company Team Lewis, which offers its employees two days a year of voluntary work in the association of their choice.
The extension promised by Léa Filoche may allow “breakfast” to further improve the quality of meals, which already work with short circuit products. Or to further strengthen the reception. An important element for Guillaume Latil: “When I qualify, I say: you are worth what I give you. “Or to provide a meal service during the summer, when at this time, the devices are lightened to allow volunteers in particular to rest. “How to compensate for this? asks the assistant. Because we are no less hungry in the summer. »
“We leave with a smile”
While the Nuit de la Solidarité last January identified 3,015 people in Paris this year without an accommodation solution, an increase of 16% compared to 2022, “the needs are constantly increasing”, worries Léa Filoche. The town hall has considerably increased the number of meals served, from 11,000 per day in 2019 to 24,000 in 2022, thanks to a budget envelope of 6 million euros per year for food aid.
“What struck me was the change in the public, we now have people who are in accommodation centers or with third parties,” comments Emmanuel Ollivier, from the Salvation Army Foundation. “We have a scissors effect due to inflation,” adds Léa Filoche.
In any case, the people who come to have these breakfasts seem really happy to meet here, the atmosphere full of joy testifies to this, where people laugh and chat at the table. Salim would like to have a little more “protein” in the lunch boxes or “bigger” packed lunches, of course, but he obviously looks much better at the end of the two-hour session. He didn’t talk too much at first, he explains, because he sleeps in a parking lot, and “sometimes in the morning, things go wrong with the security guards, I arrive I’m in my head”. There, he regained his morale, visibly: “We’re here, we don’t take ourselves seriously!” (laughs)” Stéphane agrees: “We leave with a smile. »
EDIT: A first version of the article indicated that the device of the “dinners of the Town hall” was also going to be perpetuated, it is an error of the press service of the town hall of Paris.