"After feeling abandoned for so long, this project gives the socially excluded a new lease of life. The Internet gives them a chance to regain some dignity and a place in society".
Because the socially excluded are generally unfamiliar with new information and communication technologies (ICTs) and hardly dare use them – even where there is public access – the "ATD Quart Monde" association has decided to launch a project in France. "A computer for everyone" Realising that so many procedures of today's procedures are conducted online, "ATD Quart Monde" has decided to make ICTs available to everyone in order to prevent yet another area of exclusion being created for those most in need.
The association's staff are able to take their message out onto the streets thanks to laptops with Wi-Fi connections. They use the laptops to show marginalised members of society how to surf the net while helping them log back on to society (job hunting, flat hunting, for instance) and its new environment. Once they've got a grasp of the basics, they are encouraged to use digital services made available to the general public in the local neighbourhood.
A window on the world
Initiated in April 2005, the project has already enabled four facilitators from the association to assist thirty-five beneficiaries in their makeshift shelters or in public housing in Paris, around the Les Halles and Belleville neighbourhoods, as well as in the Val-d’Oise. This humanitarian project has already borne fruit: some beneficiaries have found accommodation by non-standard procedures, others have enrolled at the local library, or learned the highway code or run a job search.
In light of these results, this initiative is attracting growing interest. Following a request from "ATD Quart Monde", the Veolia Foundation has provided funding of 20,000 euros to cover the acquisition of additional computer hardware so as to extend the experiment over a two-year period. At the end of this period, the experiment, which is 40% funded by the ministry of research, will enable specifications to be drawn up for humanitarian associations looking to provide Internet access for all.