Renovate your home and rebuild social ties

In the Castres region, the Les Compagnons bâtisseurs Midi-Pyrénées (Midi-Pyrenees Construction Journeymen) association is helping marginalized groups of the community to revive interest in managing their lives by offering them the chance to get their hands… dirty. In fact, it is offering them the opportunity to participate actively in the renovation of their home.

Social and Employment

Castres (Tarn), Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), France

Delphine Pailler

12,000 euro to the Selection Committee at 2006/12/05

Project leader

Compagnons bâtisseurs

"The aims of the projects run by CBMP are to mobilize, energize and give people suffering hardship in underprivileged neighborhoods a sense of their own worth. Further, the projects are an opportunity to recreate the social ties that have long disappeared between these people."
Delphine Pailler

Distanced from the workforce, family breakdowns, school problems for the children… when you add all these problems to the slow but inevitable deterioration of buildings, the hope of ever building a better life for yourself and your family disappears just as surely. Established in 1985 to run workforce integration programs for people on minimum social benefits, the Les Compagnons bâtisseurs Midi-Pyrénées (CBMP) regional association decided to tackle this “erosion” by involving the inhabitants themselves.

Pride in building your own living space

In the underprivileged quarter of Lameilhé, in Castres, CBMP invited the population to join in “auto-renovation” projects. By renovating their apartment (painting, construction of storage furniture, minor plumbing and electricity work), as well as helping the neighbors and working on the common areas, the people regain pride in taking action to improve their lives while also getting real training. From one project to the next, they learn again how to interact and share with their neighbors, as CBMP prompts them provide a “helping hand” in other areas, like child minding, monitoring school work, etc. Finally, in addition to the renovation activity, the association offers neighborhood workshops every two weeks in which it raises people’s awareness about housing-related issues, such as home hygiene, energy savings, waste management, etc.


Given its success, CBMP decided in 2007 to extend its project to a difficult neighborhood in Toulouse. Having to make additional investments to put this program into practice, it contacted tenant placement organisations and sponsors who could be interested in its initiative. The Veolia foundation’s grant will be used to purchase a utility vehicle to transport people to the worksites along with the equipment and material required. From one renovation project to the next, the beneficiaries of the CBMP project can opt to stay part of the structure to help it in turn, and so extent the association’s reach beyond their own neighborhood.