Sale at the central house of Saint Martin de Ré
 Saint-Martin-de-Ré, France

 

THE CONTEXT OF YOUR INITIATIVE

The detention centre in Saint Martin de Ré accommodates inmates serving very long sentences. A third of these detainees live in a state of awful deprivation. The minimum social allowance they receive is spent on cigarettes, or renting prison appliances (TV, fridge). As such, many detainees do not have enough money to replace their clothing. The State provides €20/month to the poorest inmates.

The chaplaincy appealed to the Community to respond to this need and organise a clothing sale in two of the prison wards.

In the barracks ward, detainees are on average between 55 - 65 years old and have no opportunities to work. In light of the acts that they may have committed and the distance between the penitentiary centre and their families, the latter have severed ties, or have not been in contact with the detainees for some time.

THE ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT AS PART OF YOUR INITIATIVE

For a fortnight, our group sorted and boxed up the clothes requested by inmates according to type and size.

WHO IS INVOLVED FROM OUR GROUP?

This action was implemented under the direction of our social service assistant, with help from 5 companions who sorted and boxed up the clothing. Another two companions took the clothing to the centre and ran the sale. Two managers supervised the smooth running of this initiative.

One of the companions volunteered, because as soon as he can, he will go to help Emmaus Grande Synthe or in any way he can.

Bruno, a companion in the Community, shares his experience: A brief solidarity exchange with prisoners serving long sentences in the Saint Martin de Ré prison.
Brief because of the security requirements due to Covid-19, but very important for us all. For them, as they were able to enjoy a moment of life, and for us, as we witnessed the full meaning of our actions to help the poor.

WHICH PARTNERS ARE YOU WORKING WITH ON THIS INITIATIVE?

This action was implemented under the direction of our social service assistant, with help from 5 companions who sorted and boxed up the clothing. Another two companions took the clothing to the centre and ran the sale. Two managers supervised the smooth running of this initiative.

One of the companions volunteered, because as soon as he can, he will go to help Emmaus Grande Synthe or in any way he can.

Preparing the clothes

The team that participated in the sale

FUTURE PROSPECTS

Following this first attempt, we have decided to carry out this initiative twice a year. In order to adapt to the different needs in the two wards, CAFEJ and the Community are considering areas for improvement, such as dedicating one day to each ward.

Finally, we can do better regarding the clothing offered, bearing in mind there are numerous restrictions in terms of authorised colours, for example.

SHARE YOUR PROGRESS AND THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THIS INITIATIVE

Firstly, we were asked by the prison chaplain from Saint Martin de Ré, who informed us of this problem faced by detainees. We wanted to ensure the involvement of companions in this initiative, knowing that some of them may have seen prison life up close, or from a distance, but above all because they have experienced precariousness.

We organised the first sale, which took place on 2nd October.

55 detainees came to the sale, and we distributed around 300 t-shirts, trousers, pairs of socks, underwear, etc.

For those who are not destitute, prices were set at €5 or €2; for the destitute, the price was divided by 10. After the debriefing, a companion raised that he felt the prices were too high compared to prices in the community. The information will be sent to the management of the prison service.

Due to the health crisis, we were not able to organise a social time, as was initially planned. Nevertheless, some expressed their enthusiasm for this. The fact that they got to choose clothing, and that they were supported individually in their choices, was greatly appreciated. Some of those who are not as poor also bought clothes for poorer inmates who did not have enough money to come. Solidarity is everywhere!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADD ANY INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR INITIATIVE?

Emmaus’ purpose is to serve those who suffer most. For many years, our movement has been extremely attentive to the living conditions of detainees. Justice/prison initiatives already exist within Emmaus.

As we are based next to this detention centre specialising in long sentences, it was clear that we had to respond to this request from the prison chaplaincy.

We have used social media to share news about this action and in the springtime we will contact local media. The aim of this is to constantly reiterate that the key purpose of all Emmaus communities is to act in solidarity.

WHAT ARE YOUR PROSPECTS?

There was no specific need. Indeed, the people living in prison require this type of action.

About

 1502

Initiative sponsors

Charlotte ROLLET
Social worker


Location

Saint-Martin-de-Ré, France

Initiatives

Struggles

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