The Holy Trinity Outreach committee has been donating regularly to Pierre Blanche over the past few years, and has mainly been acquainted with the ‘Je Sers’ boat part of the association, based on the River Seine at Conflans St Honorine. We recently had a full tour of all the different branches of this busy association, which employs up to 30 people in both part time and full time posts, and has up to 100 volunteers giving up anything from a few hours to a couple of half days a week in one or other capacity.
Bateau ‘Je Sers’
Originally the association was entirely based in the old river boat ‘Je Sers’, which houses the ‘Chapelle des Bateliers’. It remains a chapel, and is at the heart of the association, but is now also a refuge for up to 30 homeless people, who live in small cubicle rooms on an adjoining boat and who take meals there, accompanied by 2 priests and supported by two other priests as well as a small group of nuns, volunteers and a social worker visiting regularly.The boat provides lunch for up to 100 people every day, including French nationals and migrants of various nationalities. This activity is restricted at the moment,of course.
Food Bank – Banque Alimentaire
A single stock manager employed by the Pierre Blanche association runs the depot, along with a part time assistant and various ‘stagiaires’ or youngsters from Versailles doing ‘travail d’intérêt général’. The team collects the food, sorts it and distributes it to registered needy individuals or families on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.The food bank also supplies food for the ‘Je Sers’ boat and the different groups of residents in houses or flats supported by the Pierre Blanche association.
Hebergement d’Urgence pour les Demandeurs d’Asile – La Cité de La Pierre Blanche
Situated alongside the Food Bank warehouse, this set of offices houses several salaried professionals who welcome in people sent by different official organizations, mainly asylum seekers, who need help with organizing documentation and accommodation whilst they wait for their requests for refugee status to come through. This can take anything from 3 to 18 months.
L’intermédiation locative AILES (Accompagnement et Insertion par le Logement pour un Envol Social)
An extremely active branch of the association deals with the provision of accommodation for SDF, asylum seekers and those who have recently obtained refugee status and are trying to find work and move towards autonomy. The association is at the moment looking after up to 130 people in shared houses or flats for approximately 4-5 families or groups of single men or single women.
Since 2018 Pierre Blanche has provided a small health centre employing a part-time nurse and medical secretary, as well as two half days when two volunteer doctors hold surgery. The association covers the cost of medication prescribed by the doctors for the patients who have no medical cover themselves
Positive ways in which we can help:
✅ By spreading word of the needs of the association and targeting collections if and when asked for help: Beds, kitchen appliances, cupboards, work surfaces, cutlery, crockery, fridges, cookers, ovens etc, bed linen, blankets, quilts, towels, warm clothes, soap, toothpaste, sanitary towels, toilet paper, nappies etc
(Fiona Dabas has a number to call if you have items for collection, and a full report on activities of the association is available from the office, or look at www.lapierreblanche.org )