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Eeva Hjelt and La Friperie Solidaire: a collaboration made to measure.

Île-de-France - Alfortville
Access to employment

At age 33, the head of international human resource development at Eurovia got involved with La Friperie Solidaire. The sponsor had one desire: to pass on her skills.

07/11/2013

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When Eeva Hjelt came to work for Eurovia in 2011, she already had several years of volunteer work under her belt. Two years later when a colleague in charge of associative projects told her that La Friperie Solidaire needed help, it rhymed with her convictions. ‘Listening and going further than needs contributes to the success of integration projects’, says the young sponsor. She will fulfil her mission in tandem with her colleague Saïdou Sow, engineer. He will take care of pricing studies and she will focus on human resources. ‘With a 70% success rate returning to employment, my motivation to help La Friperie Solidaire hold steady was as strong as possible’, she recalls.

No one is ‘unemployable’

The Emmaüs association La Friperie Solidaire has been working in Paris and Maisons-Alfort since 2002 to promote the social and professional integration of people excluded from the labour market by offering them sorting, sewing, laundry and store sales activities. Every year, 40 employees seeking integration (average age 40) referred by social workers spend 24 hours a week there. ‘The heart of the activity is collecting and recycling clothing and customising creations sold in our three shops. These sales are a way to create overall and societal wealth with the idea that no one is “unemployable”’, insists Lydia Feghloul, director of the association. It was from this standpoint that she contacted the Fondation VINCI pour la Cité that provided a grant of €23,000 in 2012, thus contributing to the training and professionalism-building of the employees seeking integration and the purchase of a second truck to better meet the growing demand for collection.

Renewed confidence

‘It is by increased professionalism, training, teamwork and autonomy that the Friperie helps its employees overcome their social and professional issues so they can access the labour market’, clarifies Eeva. In 2014, the young woman has conduced job search workshops with simulated job interviews, for example. ‘When I use my know-how outside my company, I learn as much as I teach’, she says. As a result, at La Friperie Solidaire, they start by sorting clothing and progressively the employees acquire skills thanks to renewed confidence. Very quickly, quality workmanship, aptitude for sales, and creativity emerge. In 2004, then age 57, Michel Bouchetta gave a new direction to his life. ‘It was my first “honest” job. They trusted me, and that encouraged me to put an end to my past as a forger. Here, I discovered the joy of working and I have a real profession thanks to training with a stylist and a fashion designer.’

January 2015 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.