A., forty years old, testifies to the strength of character necessary to emerge from poverty. And also recalls the essential character of associations such as the Restos du Cœur.
Winter is coming with, as every year, its share of food aid registration campaigns with associations. In 2020, demands are increasing, from all sources. The pandemic has passed by there, stopping odd jobs, contracts in the hotel industry, overtime in certain sectors, childcare … The health crisis has become economic: according to the Federation of Solidarity Actors, it would have done drop a million French people below the monetary poverty line, that is to say less than 1063 euros per month for a household. On Tuesday October 6, 2020, new figures came to illustrate the increase in the number of people receiving the Active Solidarity Income (RSA), and the spectacular increase in recourse to food aid: this would have increased by "more than 30%" in large metropolises, according to a manager of Restos du coeur at franceinfo.
Currently, the Restos du Coeur are seeing an influx of precarious young people and students, and have opened centers on campuses. Many women are also affected by this precariousness.
This increase in precariousness is also accompanied by a shame of being perceived as poor and of having to ask for help. However, it is a first step towards getting out of poverty.
This is what A. tells us, who got off from scratch thanks to her resilience, her strength of character and the help of Restos du Cœur. "We can't do everything alone", she recalls. Through the beautiful testimony of this woman, we understand the more essential character than ever of the associations which support the most deprived. Without them, it is society itself that could not cope with the explosion of poverty.
"You can't do everything alone": the testimony of A.
A. is a forty-year-old woman who has experienced many hardships in her life, and has been able to cope with the help, among others, of Restos du Coeur. Following the violence of her ex-husband, A. finds herself at the door of her house, overnight, without any resources. She also cannot count on those around her, who do not approve of her divorce. She then finds herself staying in a hostel. Without diplomas, it is difficult for him to find a job, and everyday life is very complicated. At times, she does not eat every day and "drink water to quench hunger". One of her friends at home tells her about Restos du Coeur. A. does not know the association well: "At first I thought they were going to take me to a restaurant!", she confides, laughing. Arriving at the food distribution, the shock is severe for the young woman: "I wanted to cry, to me it was like begging!"
A. recognizes that it can be difficult to ask for help. However, she was able to overcome the feeling of shame: "I dared to talk about it, I told myself that we can't do everything alone, it's complicated!" Thanks to Restaurants, she can eat. She also undertakes several training courses to be able to find a job. Via the Restaurants, she also discovers the Toits du Coeur, in order to benefit from accommodation. Indeed, despite her paid training and the alimony to which she is entitled, the donors consider her without resources. The association therefore allows her to find accommodation, which she now pays with her salary, because she has found a permanent job. The volunteers of the Restos du Coeur also accompany him to manage administrative procedures. A. emphasizes how much this support has helped her to achieve the independence that she ardently wanted and for which she works, because "the Restos du cœur do not give everything". The people helped by the Restaurants are proud to be able to no longer benefit from them, sometimes even becoming volunteers in their turn, like A. What advice she would give to someone in her situation? "Do not hesitate to go and ask!". To enjoy a meal and much more.
The more we help people, the better they get
5 million people in France have recourse to food aid, recall the Restos du Coeur in their annual report for 2020. And the poverty plan announced in October 2020 has not convinced charities, which denounce a sorting operated by the 'State between those who "deserve help" and the others. The importance of helping people get out of poverty may be obvious, but few political discourses take it into account. Yet the more you help people, the better off they get, one might summarize, as the work on poverty led by Nobel laureate in economics Esther Duflo proves.
This winter, new profiles of people asking for help have appeared to associations, such as self-employed workers who have not paid themselves since March, due to the pandemic. These people "off the radar" of conventional state aid could not eat without food aid. The latter are therefore more than ever on the front line, to provide food support, but also to help with housing and have their rights recognized despite the administrative labyrinths. Without them, there are many people who would not get by. It remains to pass the door of an association as did A., who remembers smilingly "welcome and support without judgment" from which she benefited.
“Because one meal is not enough”: a complete ecosystem to support
This is one of the mantras of Restaurants: if you come to them, "It is because his personal or family situation is materially very difficult." Bonding is fundamental to regaining confidence. The Restos du Coeur are food aid, but also listening, moments of conviviality. A. confides that today, many volunteers are his friends. The support provided by the association is multifaceted: food for adults, Restos Babies, but also cooking workshops, housing assistance, support towards employment, access to rights, support on the budget, educational support, culture… Ultimately, food aid is a gateway to the association's ecosystem.
How can we help the Restos du Coeur to continue their essential work that began 35 years ago, in October 1985? You can make several types of donation: in kind, with food or hygiene products; Restaurant tickets; or donate money. You can also offer your time by becoming a volunteer, occasionally for collections or more regularly. Being a volunteer at Restos du Cœur means committing to providing selfless service to people in difficulty. It is also to bring solidarity to life and to concretely help people to cope with it, at a time when solidarity is our greatest strength.