Gradually recreating a social and professional life

In Nantes, the Les Eaux Vives association supports homeless people in meeting their basic needs and then reintegrating them into society. Its integration project, Ôvives, relies on the “Premières Heures” (“First Hours”) Scheme to adapt to high financial insecurity.

Social & Employment

  • Location:

    Nantes (France)

  • Sponsor:

    Victorine Vayer

  • Grant:
    €15,000 at the selection committee meeting on 4 October 2021

Project leader

Les Eaux vives Emmaüs

In Nantes, in Loire-Atlantique, the 5 Ponts opened in June 2021. This accommodation and integration facility is run by the Eaux Vives association, in partnership with the institutional structure of Nantes. Affiliated with Emmaüs France since 2013, Eaux Vives has been fighting against the exclusion of the disadvantaged. It supports people who are homeless, vulnerable, experiencing psychological suffering, or foreigners. In 2020, it supported more than 3,000 people on their integration path towards housing, employment and health. In Loire-Atlantique, with its 70 volunteers, it employs about a hundred employees and manages 30 schemes.

Financial uncertainty that hinders standard reintegration

The project targets an excluded population: the association meets their basic needs (shelter, access to health services, luggage, meals) and, with the 5 Ponts, hopes to offer prospects for their future. Homeless people accumulate social problems that make it difficult, or even impossible, to change their situation through the standard professional integration tools. The lack of social stability limits their capacity to act. The mechanisms for reintegration through employment are not compatible with the problems of someone living on the street, both in terms of the weekly working hours (26 hours per week) and the duration of commitment (24 months). Eaux Vives has therefore chosen to rely on the “Premières Heures” Scheme for its Ôvives integration project: it offers a progressive path that takes into account the constraints of employees and provides the resources for enhanced overall support.

The application of the Premières Heures Scheme

The jobs offered by the Ôvives integration project meet the requirements of the 5 Ponts accommodation and reintegration establishment: versatile catering employee in the restaurant, premises maintenance worker in the reception centre, self-service employee (home help).

The beneficiary begins by working four, then eight, twelve, sixteen and finally 26 hours a week in order to gradually get used to the standard weekly working time of a fixed-term integration contract. The professionals specifically support each employee according to their position, including in the workplace when necessary. Participation in the scheme is four months renewable, up to a maximum duration of twelve months.

The challenge is twofold: to develop employability (development of soft skills and know-how) among those out of work, and to support the removal of obstacles to employment by favouring a comprehensive approach. The project also raises awareness among local businesses to promote the employment of these people.

The fight against high financial uncertainty is a daily battle and the Premières Heures Scheme seems to provide the conditions for a return to a sustainable social and professional life.