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SUPPE meeting in Bordeaux: New employment fields for handicapped people

The 4th SUPPE meeting was held in Bordeaux October 2nd – 3rd, 2014. Partner INSUP offered a most detailed programme providing insight in French funding and support schemes in supported employment, best practices and exchange with institutions and administrative bodies active in employment market preparations for disadvantaged and disabled persons.

Thanks to the presentations of Béatrice Serraj (SRFPH - Schéma Régional Pour la Formation des Personnes handicapées) and Pascale Borgies (AGEFIPH - Association de GEstion du Fond pour l’Insertion professionnelle des Personnes Handicapées) the public support instruments in France could be compared to those in the SUPPE partners’ countries. 

Another workshop was dedicated to the efforts of Bordeaux municipality for developing and implementing policies related to improvements for handicapped people. Around 8% of the Bordeaux population is handicapped and the number is increasing as Bordeaux attracts specifically French and foreign pensioners due to the mild climate, the attractive countryside and the location close to the sea.

Joёl Solari, vice mayor of Bordeaux and responsible for the department of improvements for handicapped persons, and chief of department Sylvie Kammerer of Bordeaux municipality gave insight information on challenges as well as success stories of their ambitious work. Mr Solari emphasized that the efforts are rather a business development issue than a social issue: “We are consequently developing a new image of our city accompanied by many new and attractive business and employment fields.” About 4.000 visitors to the city a year are already asking for special services for disabled persons, mainly coming along with the big cruise ships which visit Bordeaux.  An own section on the city’s homepage (“Bordeaux accessible”) collects all relevant information: http://www.bordeaux.fr/p64012/personnes-handicapees.

A special highlight was the workshop with the choreographer and artistic director Pascal Croce of Klaus Danse Compagnie (http://www.klauscompagnie.fr/) with disabled dancers. The dancers, mostly in wheelchairs and with multiple disabilities, had accepted that the SUPPE group could attend the workshop. It was an outstanding experience to see what kind of strong emotions can be expressed by this kind of dance and how much joy and pleasure filled the room. A lot of applause and many smiling faces was the most rewarding outcome of this part of the meeting.

For both lunches of the meeting restaurants were visited, which offer disadvantaged and disabled persons access to training for professions in gastronomy. Both restaurants, the “Le petit creux” in Bordeaux and the “Magellan” in Pessac, are convincing examples for the employment and qualification of disabled and disadvantaged people in the service sector. 

Many thanks to INSUP, our French SUPPE partner, specifically to Marie Noelle Garcia, Gisèle Massol, Christine Chartier and Barbara Cosse, for the most inspiring programme and the insight to French activities and initiatives for supported employment.

(article written by Karin Drda-Kühn / ACW)