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The Compagnons Bâtisseurs rebuilding solidarity in Tours

Centre-Val de Loire - Tours
Social ties in priority neighbourhoods

The housing renovations by the Compagnons Bâtisseurs Centre, in Tours, are done with the families in difficulty that are destined to live in the housing. And they are a success.

03/17/2009

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Fight slums and energy insecurity, foster re-housing and avoid evictions... these are the Compagnons Bâtisseurs Centre’s main missions. The association has taken an original approach since 1982: the development of “accompanied” self-renovation actions. The work is in this way done by the beneficiaries themselves in both rural and urban areas and supervised by professionals, the association’s employees, civil service volunteers or other volunteers. “Housing is our medium for social integration, and construction is our profession,” explains Christine Giraudon-Berthelot, director of the Compagnons Bâtisseurs Centre since 2007.

Double win for the participants

The Compagnons Bâtisseurs Centre also provide their beneficiaries with social and professional support. At the same time, they encourage them to restore the trust with their landlords when they are renters, or even envisage re-housing in better conditions. By getting involved in the renovation of their own homes, the people that the association helps also repair their own self-esteem. And the experience is beneficial for both parties: the young volunteers, from France or other European countries, sometimes from disadvantaged areas, receive very “rewarding” training.

In 2011, the family of young Mekkia, age 27, was able to take advantage of the association’s services: “My mother had lived in this house for 26 years. My father died last year. There was a lot of work to be done. The renovations were estimated at €2,600, which my mother didn’t have. A volunteer taught us his techniques... Today, I know how to make plaster, lay it, prepare a wall, sand it, apply sealer, and paint properly. My brother’s friends, who were out of work, came too, to learn. It will be such a help later!” Thanks to the association’s action, the renovations cost the family only €30.

Increase the association’s professionalism

In 2010, the VINCI Foundation contributed to the association’s development by granting it financing in the amount of €19,000 for the purchase of construction material, a service vehicle, and scaffolding. Didier Lecompte, technical agent in charge of equipment with GTM Centre (VINCI Construction) in Tours, knows the structure well: “My wife is the association’s accountant. I therefore offered to sponsor the project. I mentioned it to Lionel Garnier, security prevention agent in my company, and he agreed to join me as co-sponsor. Since then, I’ve followed their work closely. For example, I’ve advised them on the purchase of equipment.” For his part, Lionel Garnier has focused on worksite safety: compliance with labour laws, information meetings, day-to-day prevention, etc. “I shared with them the knowledge I’ve acquired throughout my time in the VINCI Group. But I’m waiting to retire so I can get more involved!” Today, this pooling of experience has changed the face of the association into one of an organisation of “professionals”.

May 2012 © 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.