Depaul International is pleased to announce that a new subsidiary Depaul France is to be set up in 2012. In many ways it is ironic that 400 years after St Vincent de Paul was actively promoting "social services" throughout France, Depaul International, as one of the modern-day charities that takes its inspiration from him, is returning to the heart of that early work with the "poorest of the poor".
Following research into need during 2011, based in Paris, we have identified a number of areas where Depaul could bring its experience and expertise to bear in enhancing provision for homeless people. Our first project will be a day centre in the city, where homelessness is particularly visible amongst the migrant community from Eastern Europe, including Roma.
The economic climate in France is difficult, as elsewhere. Property prices (rental and purchase) continue to be prohibitive for individuals and charities. Unemployment and low wages remain a significant cause of homelessness and remain as a barrier for those who become homeless to move back into settled accommodation. Legally, homeless people in France do have enforceable rights and do need help to assert those rights. However, without the resources to back these rights, it is difficult to see how civil society can respond. Depaul will begin work tackling this in a small way, and develop further services that fill gaps in provision and which improve the quality of services offered to the homeless.
We have recruited a Director for Depaul France who will be responsible for completing work on the legal registration of the new charity, and for supervising the set up of the day centre which will be in the 15th arrondisement. It will offer basic healthcare with showers, dressing changes, first aid, foot care etc, and will initially be open three days a week. As our knowledge of the needs of homeless people in the city develops we will add to this provision, and in the longer term our plan is to open more accommodation-based provision.