Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The main target of the programme is Roma community. An experiment has been carried out in Paris and Toulouse.

Co-creation process

The Melting Potes network gathered numerous partners: – the Unis-cité association, and in particular the Toulouse office (as architect of the project) – the Civic Service Agency is a Public Interest Group under the supervision of the Ministry of National Education. – the Di-Air (Inter-ministerial Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees), which is the structures in charge of refugees in temporary accommodation centre), CHU (University Hospital Centre), CADA (Centre for Asylum Seekers). – the National education, in particular the Academic Centre for the education of newly arrived allophone pupils and children from itinerant families and travellers). The teachers of FLE who are involved in the Unis-cité programme. Schools in which allophone families will register their children. Schools for French as a Foreign Language. -The platform “health-precariousness” of the city of Toulouse, which is a platform gathering all the actors of precariousness (health, housing, professional integration). -The regional and departmental directorate for youth, sports and social cohesion), in charge of managing long-term programmes on territorial level. -Other partners are also part of this innovation network, health professionals, for example school medicine, volunteers of the Médecin du Monde association and associations dedicated to refugees. -Funders: Unis-cité private national funders, the Civic Service Agency, the National Education, local funders (local authorities, etc.).

Digital Transformation Process

This case study is not about a digital transformation process, but it’s a social innovation. Social innovation refers to the target of the programme, the search for diversity and cultural mix  and the community support.  

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

It is difficult to measure some of the integration process, but the integration of refugees or Roma through the community support is effective. A snowball effect is noticed from the moment a child of a community is sent to school thanks to the actions of the community support. Even if the impact is difficult to estimate, an increase in social cohesion due to the reduction of prejudices among young people in civic service, the sensitization of young people by the Melting Potes group and the sensitization of the families of young volunteers has been noted.

Challenges & Bottlenecks

The main challenges that the programme faced during its implementation was related first of all to human obstacles. Roma are often confused with Travellers, which gives the image of people who would not want to settle on the territory. In addition, young Roma or some refugees are subjected to discrimination when they want to open a current account to undertake their civic service. Another obstacle relates to differences in equal treatment depending on the territory.  The new law regarding refugees is still very recent, it has emerged that the Civic Service Agency does not give the same answers on the admission of refugees into civic service according to the territorial offices.   Financial barriers are important for the Melting Potes programme, especially in its Roma Melting Potes version. Indeed, large private companies and local authorities are reluctant to put a large amount of money into helping Roma communities, even if they would like to. Companies do not want to associate their image with that of the Roma, and communities are concerned about the return of voters who may blame them for this initiative. There are also logistical challenges. Melting Potes volunteers are forced to undertake missions corresponding to office hours (9am-5pm) and not on Saturday. This temporality limits the missions. Another potential obstacle for the next year group is the recruitment of refugees.

Transferability & Replicability

The ambition of the Unis-cité association, hosting this innovation network, is to develop this programme throughout the country. Unis-cité has just obtained a partnership with the DI-Air (Inter-ministerial Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees) to increase the number of refugees welcomed throughout France. This method is now being spread to other associations willing to invest in this type of programme.  

Success Factors

Among success factors, a key role has been played by the city of Toulouse and the amendment of the 2010 law. To be more specific, the city of Toulouse has carried out with the Interministerial Delegation for Housing and Access to Housing (DIHAL) an ambitious and intelligent territorial strategy for the reduction of slums. Since 2012, the DIHAL has been monitoring the dismantling of illegal camps in the territories and has provided financial support for partnership initiatives to reduce the number of slums. A total of 329 people (115 of them minors) were rehoused, including 298 in the City’s insertion and accommodation system. The operation was carried out under good conditions and in partnerships with the services of the prefecture, the town hall of Toulouse, the Departmental Directorate of Social Cohesion, the Central Directorate of Public Security, the municipal police and social workers from the Soliha and France Horizon associations, and the French Red Cross. The successful running of these operations and pre-existing partnerships in the territory have helped to facilitate the development of the Melting Potes programme.   Second, the amendment of the Civic Service Act has allowed beneficiaries of international protection, and some other refugees, to access civic service.

Lessons learned

The hosting structures were initially difficult to convince, on the one hand because the association did not have any concrete results to present on this programme, and on the other hand because the programme had to be set up over a very short period of time. As a result, the local coordinator began by offering this program to Unis-cités’ historical partners (Emmaüs, Les restos du cœur, la banque alimentaire). When the programme was presented, some associations were reluctant to welcome young people from the Roma community, explaining the difficulties they might have in communicating with this community. Paradoxically, solving these types of communication difficulties is the purpose of the programme. The aim is to resolve the difficulties of understanding which exist between the French community and the Roma community or the families of refugees. From the third year group of Melting Potes, the trend was reversed, i.e. a large number of associations and organisations came forward to ask for Melting Potes civic service volunteers. More generally, this case study revealed the importance in the case of social innovation of disseminating innovation and sharing good practices between associations.