The social welfare and social right’s caravan – France

The following example has been experimented in France, more precisely in Grenoble (France, Alpes), by the City of Grenoble (local public authority) and the CCAS (Community Social Action Association – a local public authority linked with the city). 
The implementation of “aller-vers” tools carried by City of Grenoble and the CCAS was born from common assessment shared by many actors of the Grenoble territory: the existence of invisible public, struggling to access to their rights and to social services, or even in a situation of “non-request”, for many reasons. These local observations meet those made at national level: saturation point of common civil law mechanisms, complexity to access to rights and allowances, fragmentation and significant response times which leads to an increase in poverty and inequalities.

The implementation of the “social right’s caravan” system is one of the actions of the action plan for the access to social rights and the fight against “non-request”, validated by the City of Grenoble in 2017.

The caravan consists of the creation of a  “aller-vers” tool made up of an itinerant and multidisciplinary team in charge of going to meet  the citizens of Grenoble who are facing difficulties in accessing to social rights and tools, who are possibly in a “non-request” situation and/or who are remoted from the “usual” access to institutions. The challenge of this new tool is to complete the institutional methods of social service providing by going out to meet those who do not or no longer take the step of asking the question.

This approach has several objectives:

  • Meet: go to the publics and eventual beneficiaries by moving around the neighborhoods
  • Inform: listen to the questions asked and provide information allowing people  to start  their own procedure
  • Orientate: connect them with the right interlocutor, facilitate the initial contact, guide
  • Support: offer interviews until the problem is resolved
  • Fight against non-recourse:  monitoring the recurring problems of rights access 

The operationnal part of this project has been entrusted to the CCAS, and precisely to the Direction of Fight Against Poverty and Precarity and the “aller-vers and social right access” team (AVAAD) that has been mobilized. They conducted a multidisciplinary work both for the project design and for the implementation of intervention methods, by integrating as much transversality as possible in order to meet the expected criteria of proximity and reactivity. The team put a lot into this work, with great energy and lot of interest and carried out the experiment during 5 months in 2020 in 3 districts of the city (Clos d´Or, Abry and Saint-Laurent districts).

First results

These interventions enabled 128 people to benefit from support to access their rights or to positively develop their project. The topics covered were very diverse: issues related to housing, accommodation, health, employment or training, access to social benefits or pensions, the foreigner’s rights. The needs and requests were often multiple.
An internal evaluation was carried out. It highlighted the users and partners’ interest for the proximity and reactivity of this type of intervention.
It’s unusual, amazing and pleasant, it’s a very good deed for people who don’t know their rights, you get well.» 

The partners underline the merits of this action for its role both of:
– reaching out to new publics and beneficiaries
– social ties and anchoring in the neighbourhoods

“Being able to respond immediately is important and this is rarely the case”.

Also, at the end of 2020, the AVAAD team has been happy to welcome the news : the CCAS Directors’ Board to validate the continuity of the project! The activity will resume at the end of January 2021 in the following three districts for three months (other neighborhoods will then be targeted): Alma Très Cloître, Clos d’Or, St Laurent.

As during the experiment, the weekly interventions (1 half-day per district) will take place as follow: the vehicle stops and sets up in a passageway (the same in each district) ; a convivial space is animated near the vehicle in order to forge bonds and communicate about the actions of the Caravan. Two professionals are mobilized for each intervention:
– a full-time social worker ensures more particularly the interviews carried out in the truck converted into a mini office; 
a person in charge of the “aller-vers” approach or a public writer who manages the time and the space of conviviality in order to create essential trust for people to encourage them to submit a specific request.

The continuity of the tool will make possible to pursue this activity by integrating other partners in order to deal with recurring issues in terms of access to rights such as questions related to budget management: a worker from the Financial Inclusion Pole will join the two professionals of the Caravan on interventions in the Clos d’Or district. A specific effort at the level of institutions that provide rights needs to be deepen so that the Caravan can fully plays its role in the fight against non-request.

This atypical tool is very motivating for the team; it requires a great capacity for adaptation and reactivity. All the skills of social workers mobilized and put at the public’s service: the caravan offers the possibility to each person who feels the need to be listened to and considered as a full citizen.

Photo credits : © Anissa Duport-Levanti

For more information about the project, click here.