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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/societe/juli...

by Interview by Pierre Duquesne

Julien Lauprêtre: “Severe cold spells hit the destitute much harder”

Translated Wednesday 15 February 2012, by Pauline Harrowell and reviewed by Henry Crapo

The president of Secours Populaire Français, Julien Lauprêtre, is launching an appeal this weekend for people to step up their efforts to support the poorest members of their community, who are the first to suffer in the severe weather.

Key words: homelessness, julien lauprêtre, interview, insecurity,

Secours Populaire Français is launching an appeal via its president, Julien Lauprêtre, to make a special effort on February 11th and 12th.

Have you noticed problems worsening because of the severe weather?

Julien Lauprêtre: This Severe Weather Emergency appeal is designed to give added impetus to the campaign we launched as soon as the snow started to fall.

The bad weather has dramatic consequences for the people we are helping, whose numbers have risen from two to three million in barely two years. There’s a whole “army of the needy” made up from people struggling to feed themselves and keep warm. There are not only the homeless, but also a whole sector of the population pushed further into destitution by the weather conditions.

How can we show our support?

Julien Lauprêtre: Firstly I’d like to debunk the commonly heard theory that people in France are selfish and only out for themselves. In fact, people have a very strong desire to help.

Does the severe weather bring out human kindness?

Julien Lauprêtre: Yes. We’ve seen people spontaneously offering accommodation. Some people have made donations; others have volunteered to go out looking for people in need. We need to encourage all these locally based initiatives. For example, teachers can spot if some of their pupils don’t have proper shoes or clothing.

Are there any other initiatives taking place this week-end?

Julien Lauprêtre: There’ll be a prize draw with tickets on sale for 2 euros to raise money for improving facilities in our reception centres. We’re asking people to help with giving out food parcels, particularly this weekend so we can make a big display of support.

You won’t want all this to stop when the weather improves…

Julien Lauprêtre: These extremely low temperatures are coming at an already difficult time. Our centres are open all year round. When the better weather comes so will the bills. People will have to pay increased electricity costs and go shopping for clothes. This is why our support must be permanent.

An end to social dislocation

65% of French people expect public authorities to do more to improve social cohesion, according to a study by CREDOC (centre for research into living conditions) commissioned by UNIOPSS (federation of social support charities). Yesterday this federation published a call for all presidential candidates to sign up to an anti-poverty action plan over several years, a policy of investing in young people and, in short, to strengthen the basis of social protection.

• See also
— > a new call for solidarity from Secours Populaire Français

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