Posted by: kathandroger | March 7, 2010

Collecting for les Restos

A bit of a break from gardening and lighting fires this weekend. We both did stints at the local supermarket collecting groceries from generous shoppers in aid of Les Restos du Coeur, the charity which helps the poor and needy of France. Five hours on Friday and 4 and a half for me on saturday – and 5 and a half for Roger on saturday passed remarkably quickly. Roger was conversing with locals like a native – especially with one english couple who explained that they didn’t understand what it was all about…they were quite shocked by the south London riposte!

The ‘Restos’ are quite an institution in France, having been part of the social fabric for the past 25 years. Over 100 million meals are distributed during each campaign, meaning that 800,000 people are welcomed by the centres. As well as food, clothes are provided, holidays for those in need, even rooves over heads. Not sure how the poor of France would cope without? Being a volunteer is a good insight into the society here. Most people are very supportive, though like anywhere there were some doubters who think many of the beneficiaries are just scroungers. Also, like most countries at the moment, there are also a lot of people who are not beneficiaries but are struggling very much themselves. And this is likely to become much more serious in the course of this year. It appears that unemployment benefit here is payed for up to 2 years under new laws. Around 600,000 people come to the end of their 2 years this year, after which time they will have no state support. We could be a lot busier for the next winter campaign!

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