In 2007, the Emmaus friends’ committee in Ruffec, France, set up a ‘Solidarity Mob’. Over the past few years, this project has enabled us to acquire some ten scooters and a buggy that doesn’t require the driver to have a licence.
These vehicles are rented to users who are referred by the town’s social services. They enable them to take up a job or training course, and also breaks their isolation.
In 2016, the project was completed when a solidarity driving school was set up so that users with learning, social or financial problems can obtain a driving licence: they learn the rules of the road, take driving lessons with personal support and other arrangements are made for them that would not be possible in a traditional driving school.
• ‘Solidarity Mob’ – when the project was launched, a repairs workshop was set up. It’s now run by a member of the organisation’s staff. This rental service benefits some 60 people of all ages (from 16 to 54 years old) every year.
• ‘Solidarity driving school’ – this recently-opened school (3 January 2017) currently offers lessons on the rules of the road to 8 people and driving lessons to 1 person.
Under the remit of the board and committee:
• Ilham Bouhadjar : Chair
• Julien Gendreau: Director
• Yves Gillet: Director of Education
• Christine Poiret: Teacher
• Charlotte Gallard: Future job
• The local division, solidarity homes, the Ruffec town hall’s integration working group, an interim agency, the social agricultural insurance scheme, etc.
The Solidarity Driving School
• The local division, code Rousseau, the solidarity home, the bookshop ‘Books and YYou’, the Ruffec integration working groups, the charity ‘Sillon Solidaire’, etc.
2007: the ‘Solidarity Mob’ fleet was set up
• 2014: acquisition of a buggy that doesn’t require a permit
• 2016: engineering work made it possible to set up the solidarity driving school
• 3 January 2017: the driving school opened for its first pupils
16 February 2017: Emmaus Ruffec’s solidarity driving school was inaugurated. At the time, it offered classes on the rules of the road to 8 people.
To purchase an electric car for the driving school so pupils can learn about taking an environmentally-friendly approach to driving, and put it into practice.
These two projects have enabled numerous people to get back into employment or training, or look for a job. It has also often enabled people to pass their driving test so they now have a means of moving around.
Yes, there has been significant media coverage all over France in the form of TV documentaries and articles in several newspapers.
The mobility department created by Emmaus Ruffec is a response to the difficulty in moving around in the local area. There’s barely any public transport:
Only one bus travels to the main town Angouleme 3 times a day,
In a few months’ time, the high-speed trains to Bordeaux and Paris may no longer stop at Ruffec.
Facilitating mobility in the area of North Charente is important because it is very hard to get around.