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Point d’Accueil Ecoute Jeunes : pulling young adults out of poverty

Grand Est - Metz
Access to employment

Launched in 2002 by the Comité Mosellan de Sauvegarde des Enfants et des Adolescents (CMSEA), the Point d’Accueil Ecoute Jeunes (PAEJ) youth centre works with young adults in situations of poverty and social exclusion.



Providing daily assistance to young adults who have become invisible to society

For eleven years, the Point d’Accueil Ecoute Jeunes (PAEJ) in Metz has accompanied a forgotten segment of the population: disadvantaged young adults, most between the ages of 18 and 21, who are homeless, or about to be.'Our goal is to reintegrate them into society, help them take charge of their own live,'explains Leïla Calmé, social worker with CMSEA and head of the PAEJ since 2010. According to her, it is really a matter of pulling these young adults out of poverty, not insecurity, because ‘they have no resources, are not eligible for RSA benefits because they are under the age of 25, and sometimes do not even have identification. They are young adults who are completely outside the system.’

To help them, Leïla Calmé set up a programme in 2011 baptised ‘Les Sentiers de l’Avenir’ (paths to the future). 'We offer young people a few hours of work (painting, green space maintenance, etc.), in a group setting, in exchange for the sum of €25 per day, to help out them, over a first phase. And, progressively theses workdays become more regular and take place at least one day’s work per week. We organise visits to companies, training courses, social action (makeovers, group events, etc.). We also update their administrative documents,’ says the head of the PAEJ.The goal is to have them take up a positive and constructive dynamic and allow them to recover a form of dignity, but also to fight against the inactivity, idleness and social uselessness that they experience as a sort of violence. In its third experimental year, the programme has had positive outcomes: of the 240 young adults followed by the PAEJ in 2012, nearly 70 joined the ‘Sentiers de l’Avenir’ programme, 45 of whom re-established their administrative rights, and 33 left the programme with a job or training solution.

Building a relationship

In 2012, the association received a grant of €5,000 from the VINCI Foundation to help with the purchase of a new van to drive the young people to worksites, company visits, etc.'Beyond the funding, we are delighted by the relationship we have built with our sponsors [Editors Note: Nathalie Dolata, director of human resources at the East region delegated management for VINCI Construction France, and Marion Valla, HR manager in the same entity]. That a company such as VINCI takes an interest in these young people seems very positive to us,’ insists Leïla Calmé.

Marion Valla, one of the project’s two sponsors, has notably worked to bring these young people into VINCI. 'I came to present our carriers, and offered simulated interviews. At the moment, one young women monitored by PAEJ is finishing up training to be a pipeline contractor with VINCI. This sponsorship is very rewarding and allows me to combine my work and social activism,' explains the sponsor who tries to reconcile these young adults with the professional world so they can take control of their destiny again.

February 2014 © 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.