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SOLIDARITES JEUNESSES Auvergne / Rhône-Alpes

description of organisation

The association Le Créneau – which represent the national association Solidarités Jeunesses in the regions Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes – aims at encouraging intercultural exchanges and social links among the inhabitants of the region where it is located.

The organisation has four objectives:
1. to run a hosting centre focused on intercultural exchanges, citizenship and environment;
2. to participate actively in local development projects by cooperating with municipalities, schools, leisure and sport centres;
3. to support the youth projects of local municipalities and organisations, especially through international workcamps;
4. To support persons with fewer opportunities, by contributing to their social and professional inclusion

Through the actions organised to reach these four objectives, Le Créneau offers to everyone the possibility to learn, to act and to move on in their personal pathways.



The staff of the organisation is composed by 3 employees with full time contracts:
- a regional delegate of the association ( in charge of the administrative work and the organisation of projects)
- a coordinator in charge of the international volunteers and the hosting activities
- a technical leader in charge of organising the practical work of the volunteers.
The staff is helped regularly by external contributors and volunteers such as:
- an artist working on the project site and animating several artistic initiatives (pottery, painting, ...)
- a local activist who proposes regularly initiatives concerning traditional rural activities (basket making, leather working, bread making, farm yard, gardening)

The target group we regularly work with is composed by:
- Youngsters of the region
- Local actors: local public organisations, associations, local producers and craftsmen
- Youngsters with fewer opportunities sent by special education centres and other social-educative structures
- Adults with needs regarding social integration

motivation and evs experience

The project of the association Le Créneau is based on the social, cultural and intergenerational exchanges between the people who participate in its activities. The work in teams, the shared organisation of collective life and free time, allow the people involved to learn from each other, to understand each other, to go beyond their differences, and finally to learn more about themselves. It implies that the more different are the origins of the people involved, the richer are the exchanges and the more various is the learning.
The involvement of the EVS volunteers, who are associated in all the actions carried out by the association, bring a real added value to the project in matter of intercultural exchanges and mind-openness . It is this dimension which is appreciated by our partner organisations. It is one of the reasons why some groups are coming at Le Créneau hosting centre, and why these organisations ask our involvement in their educational actions.

Since its creation, the association Le Créneau has always participated in the EVS program .

project environment

Specific needs
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Le Créneau is a recognized structure in the action of hosting people with difficulties. Indeed since 20 years:
 we host French youngsters who needs a rupture in their everyday life ( for stays from 1 week to 3 months)
 we involve and support French youngsters sent by the local youth agencies in our international workcamps.
 We host people with fewer opportunities within the frame of the EVS short-term.
 We build a way of integration and mobility for youngsters taken out of the school system, and who are supported by local youth agencies or by other special youth agencies.

The realisation of these actions is based on 3 employees who work together on supporting youngsters and all the people with special needs:
 A regional delegate of the association: she is in relation with the sending organisations
 A coordinator in charge of the volunteers and all the hosting activities: he supports the youngsters in their socio-professional projects
 A technical leader: he leads the youngsters in their daily activities.

The youngsters with special needs are integrated in the team of volunteers and stay with them, but benefit of a stronger support and more frequent evaluations. A special support is set up when they arrive, and then throughout all their voluntary service:
 Welcome at the train station
 Visit and meeting with the team involved on the hosting centre
 Progressive involvement in the different activities and work
 Linguistic support
 Weekly evaluations / individual interviews
 Work on one or multiple problem targets
 Preparation for the return
 regular contact with the sending organisation and/or with the social worker

Project environment
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Created in 1993, the association Le Créneau is the delegation in the regions Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes of the national association Solidarités Jeunesses.

Based in the castle of Prureaux in Montcombroux-les-Mines (03 - Allier), the association is located in a rural area called Bocage Bourbonnais made of woods and plains. The village of Montcombroux-les-Mines has 400 inhabitants; the architecture and the name of the village reflect its mining past. The area is very rural, rich in natural and architectural heritage, but with an ageing population. Deprived of industrial and tertiary sectors, this territory relies on nature-based tourism, the sale of crafted goods, and on a high-quality agriculture dominated by cattle breeding.
The closest towns are Vichy (45km- pop. 26 000), Moulins (50km- pop. 22 000) and Roanne (60km- pop. 40 000). The closest urban area is Clermont-Ferrand (90km- pop. 250 000). The closest train stations are Lapalisse (20km), St Germain-des-Fossés (35km) and Digoin (25km).
The most nearby village with facilities is Le Donjon and is situated at 6 km. There you can find all the daily conveniences – post office, newspapers , bread, grocery shops, pharmacy - as well as all kind of services - doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, insurance, bank, hairdresser...

Several people live permanently on the site : two employees of the association and two craftsmen (a ceramic artist and a leather craftsman).

All the year long, Le Créneau :
- hosts people, teenagers and adults, some of them encountering difficulties, in order to work with them on socio-professional or personal projects.
- organises and/or participate in actions of local development and animation: education workshops in academic institutions, with local leisure centres, in structures hosting elderly people or people with deficiencies, forums and information sessions on international youth mobility, etc .
- constructs international projects open in priority to the youth population of the surrounding area, and proposing a variety of themes : eco-citizenship, fight against discriminations, theatre, traditional dances...
- hosts groups on the centre for intercultural trainings ( organised in cooperation with structures such as Culture and Freedom, Integration Platform by Humanitarian Organization and Co-operation) , “social” holidays”(with Emmaüs) or educational holidays (special youth or children centres, special educational centres...)

The volunteers live in the hosting centre, in rooms for 4 people. The daily life (kitchen, shopping,
maintenance) is managed altogether by the permanent staff and the volunteers. The meals are eaten together.

The activities in which are involved the volunteers are always led by the permanent staff of the association
(employees or local volunteers).

Proposed activities for EVS volunteers
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The involvement in any kind of activity, whatever it might be, allows some social or technical learning. Nevertheless we try to focus on the following activities:
 participation to the workshop “Discovery of the local environment”: volunteers are hosted individually by a craftsman or woman, a local farmer or a local artist during 2-3 days, so that they discover the life of a French family as well as a new activity. It is also another opportunity to improve their knowledge in French.
 Activities to support language learning: either through formal courses or through outings to discover the local area ( with the support of an employee of the association).
 Disposal of a vehicle (mini-bus or car) for personal purchases or visits in the region (conditions: international driving license + license for minimum 3 years).
 Disposal of an internet connection
 Learning sculpture and clay turning thanks to the presence of a professional ceramic artist on the hosting centre.
 Phone box 24/24h, 7/7d, which allows to call (with the use of a pre-payed card) or to receive phone calls.
 Local press available regularly in the centre.

The EVS volunteers have a fundamental role in the heart of our organisation:
 They participate in the proposed activities in the same way as the hosted public who is involved in our actions
 They are in charge, in teams or individually, to prepare and organise several activities.
 They have responsibilities in the daily management of the hosting centre.
 They carry an international added value in the actions that we organise with the local population.
 They contribute to social and cultural learning of people with difficulties who are at the core of our actions.

Here are some examples of activities the volunteers can get involved into:
 artistic, musical, hand-craft, culinary workshops or games, proposed to the people we host regularly (youth with fewer opportunities, unemployed people, trainees...)
 artistic, musical, hand-craft, culinary workshops or games, proposed to the people of local social centres, schools, elderly centres, centres for disabled people...
 renovation activities in the hosting centre of the association (along with the other people we host), or in the neighbouring villages.
 management of the daily tasks in the centre
 leading international workcamps in summer
 outside activities : gardening, looking after the animals, planting flowers...
 promotion of the volunteering and EVS program in schools, events dedicated to youngsters...

Activities they could invent/imagine :
 organise any kind of artistic, musical, hand-craft, culinary... workshops or games for the people we host regularly (young people with fewer opportunities, unemployed people, people attending a training...)
 organise any kind of artistic, musical, hand-craft, culinary... workshops or games, in a local social centre, a school, an elderly house, a centre for disabled people...
 any type of initiative that can contribute to foster their personal development, and that is interesting for both the volunteer and the hosting association : artistic creation, promotional document, decoration...
 organisation of international projects (examples of topic : cultural, artistic, eco-citizenship...)



Volunteer profiles and recruitment process
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Solidarités Jeunesses does not ask for any particular competencies from the volunteers who wish to apply for the medium and long term we offer, and so we have never established a volunteer profile. At the same time we make every effort to provide our partners and future volunteers with as much detail as possible about the projects so that they have everything they need to make an informed decision. Moreover, according to the recommendations of the Youth in Action program, the European Voluntary Service must be open to all youth, without distinction of competencies, social background or sex. In sound accordance with the spirit of the program, Solidarités Jeunesses considers it necessary to make volunteer projects accessable to everyone who is motivated and interested in participating.
We expect the volunteer to have a good understanding of the global project and that he or she will have a desire to be a part of the group and contribute to the collective life. We look at volunteer service as an exchange between a volunteer who offers their time, talents and energy to benefit a project of collective interest and the hosting community which offers the volunteer a place where they can learn, experiment, and grow personally. Considering these principles, the most important element for the association is the motivation and commitment level of the volunteer. The volunteer also needs to keep in mind that the project is situated in a rural area, and that they will be somewhat isolated.
The idea of partnership is one of the fundamental values of Solidarités Jeunesses. Our voluntary activities are founded on the principle of exchange and are made possible by the grace of solid and dependable partners. A good understanding of the partners allows for the establishment of a working relationship that is based on reciprocity and trust. However, that does not inhibit us from establishing new partner relationships with associations that have the same values as Solidarités Jeunesses and who also desire to create projects of significance for the youth. In effect, thanks to a sprawling network of partners and an uninterrupted participation in international activities – as part of the Youth in Action program, among others – we also have the possibility of coming in contact with new associations and collaborating with them. Our open projects are not only broadcast within our network, but also in those of dozens of other partner associations, as well as in virtual networks such as Youth NetWorks.
As a general rule we have regular contact with the partner associations who respond to our calls concerning open places in our volunteer projects. These partners are the first to broadcast our projects to youth interested in participating in the European Voluntary Service. The rôle of the partner associations is essential as it assures not only the broadcasting of information but also the contact with future volunteers for the purpose of clarifying to them the value of these projects, the responsibilities of the volunteers and the hosting association, and the practicalities of the specific projects. After the first contact, the volunteers send their application to Solidarités Jeunesses and we take it, along with their letter of motivation, to the hosting organization, acting as an intermediary. These elements are used at the end of the project as educational tools and help to evaluate the project and the experience of the volunteers. Solidarités Jeunesses works to insure a good mix of cultures, genders and nationalities in each project in order to create conditions which enable a rich and fertile intercultural dialogue.
Concerning the identification of volunteers with fewer opportunities within the Short Term EVS, the process is a bit different. They can have social, economical, geographical difficulties that keep them away from voluntary activities. Motivation and the will to participate to the project are still one of the main features of participation, however they are supported by their sending tutor or social worker in their search for project. Both have a very good knowledge of our projects thanks to advanced planning visit or long exchanges to discuss about the projects and to find the most accurate projects according to their expectations and needs.

Number of volunteers
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We can host at the same time (with a guarantee in quality, learning and well-being standards) 3 EVS volunteers and from 5 to 8 short terme evs volunteers on a year.

Risk prevention, protection and safety
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Some of employees of the association - the regional delegate of the association included - work and live in the hosting centre: this already guarantees a daily security. We pay attention to the respect of the rules of collective life as well as the standards regarding the security of the building and the security at work. Besides, the permanent staff and the local volunteers have a lot of experience concerning hosting, animation and involvement of people from different cultures and social environments
1) The permanent staff live in contact with the volunteers all week long. This helps to detect quickly the source of a problem and eventually prevent a potential conflict.
2) Collective meetings are organized on a weekly basis, so that everyone can express themselves and is able to share with the others about their difficulties.
3) Monthly individual meetings are organised by the person in charge of the EVS volunteer. These discussions allow a better dialogue between the volunteer and the permanent staff and can give confidence to the less communicative people .

We do not wish to host volunteers under the age of 18.

inclusion topics

This organisation is willing to involve volunteers who face situations which make their participation in activities more difficult, from the following categories for different types of project:

  • Educational difficulties
  • Social obstacles
  • Cultural differences