La Soupape brings families together for a children’s café
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes - Grenoble
Social ties in priority neighbourhoods
In the heart of Grenoble’s Eaux Claires-Mistral neighbourhood, considered at risk, the non-profit organisation La Soupape (“the valve”) opened a children’s café in 2010. A real café (although no alcohol is served) for children and open to parents, it’s a lively place for a meal or a workshop that improve social ties and integration.
A mother had the idea while waiting for her children after school: “Talking with the others moms, I saw a real need for an alternative to the school cafeteria, which is crowded and has a poor selection. The idea of a pleasant, reasonably priced cafeteria offering balanced lunch menus became obvious,” recalls Pascale Yvetot, director of La Soupape.
After losing her previous employment in communications, she took some time to refine her project. Today, the children’s café serves around thirty meals and a dozen snacks each day at an affordable price. The fare is organic and fair trade. So that the café can be a “space for creating ties in the neighbourhood", the organisation offers its 2,000 members - parents and children alike – leisure and educational workshops led by La Soupape’s employees and volunteers.
Uniting the neighbourhood’s varied populations and cultures
“With us, children have a good time with their parents. They’re off the streets,” explains Pascale. The organisation is located in the heart of a working-class neighbourhood near a reception centre for asylum seekers. “We had many visitors this summer,” affirms Pascale. The children's café provides a benevolent safe haven for isolated populations who are sometimes in difficulty.”
It’s a fine project that Pascale Yvetot feared would not come to fruition: “It took me three years during an economic downturn to raise the necessary funding. VINCI Foundation was the first to support us, and that encouraged other institutions.” Thanks to this funding boost of €30,000 (in 2009, and again in 2011), the organisation was able to renovate the café and start work on the workshop space. “Our sponsor at VINCI, Christophe Lesaffre, provided technical and professional skills for preparing accurate specifications, validating estimates and complying with very strict codes. His assistance is extremely valuable,” acknowledges Pascale with gratitude.
“For me, sponsorship is a personal and obvious choice.”
The sponsor of the project, Christophe Lesaffre, design office manager with Enbatra (VINCI Construction) in Sassenage, admits to being “impressed with the selflessness of Pascale Yvetot. She is passionate and makes you want to act.” He was immediately attracted to the project and sponsorship was a “personal and obvious choice. I loved the notion of cultural mixing, of integration in a neighbourhood at risk.” Christophe volunteers his time and expertise when he can. “I lent them equipment for the workshop, and helped reduced the costs for the project’s completion, which had been in doubt,” explains the sponsor, happy to assist in this fine project.
November 2011 © 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.