The new Saint-Martin social center is run by the city of Lausanne and has for nine months welcomed an insecure population. Faced with the war in Ukraine, the establishment could also be led to provide space for refugees from this country. Report at the heart of this relief system.
The dining room is crowded on a Wednesday at noon. But no Ukrainian word seems to resonate in the midst of clashing cutlery and lively discussions. “We have not yet welcomed people from Ukraine, but we expect an arrival soon,” Yan Desarzens, director general of the Mother Sofia Foundation, which manages the Soup Kitchen, told Keystone-ATS.
At La Soupe, we are currently in a so-called “risk analysis” period with regard to the possible reception of refugees from the eastern countries. However, Ukrainians who want to benefit from the S permit should not land on the premises near the Bessières bridge. They will be paid by the Confederation and the cantons.
“It is especially Ukrainians from neighboring countries who could arrive here,” Mr Desarzens emphasized. The Mother Sofia Foundation has thus begun preparations for this arrival, which it estimates to be within a month. “We are looking for an employee who speaks Ukrainian to help us,” he notes.
Inside, the seats are almost all taken, and the queue in front of the kitchens never seems to stop. “We welcome between 270 and 280 people a day, in total we have to add about fifty people who do not eat,” Mr Desarzens explains.
This new complex, inaugurated nine months ago, funded by the Foundation for Housing (FLCL), offers various social services: day care, soup kitchen, emergency housing and social housing.
Back to the lunch tables with Tarek, who has been going to the Soup Kitchen for eight months. He left Spain for Switzerland in search of a better life. “Saint-Martin is a great place to rest. There is a good mix and the team is great, they even teach me some cooking recipes,” he testifies.
Cases of violence
But by discussing further with this young man, but also with Francis, Marie-Julie or even Julien, all three regulars at the center, a flip side emerges. “Some people can be violent and behave inappropriately. It does not happen that often, but it is never very pleasant,” they confide.
Due to its function, the Saint-Martin system is required to accommodate people suffering from alcoholism or substance abuse. Addictions that sometimes result in aggressive gestures.
Shortly after noon, Soupe volunteers begin cleaning up the room and closing the doors before the evening service. The time has now come to make room for Lausanne Municipality’s social service teams. They also bring relief to individuals, but in a different way than the Soup Kitchen. “Here we will offer a more individual approach to people,” sums up Véronique Pochon, unit manager in the social administration.
People can come and book a room in the afternoon to spend the night. “The end of winter is a period when demand is very strong. At the moment, everything is finished,” says Ms. Pochon. Otherwise, the social administration also offers thematic workshops, which take place in the morning (personal conversations, CV development, administrative assistance, French lessons, etc.).
The next day at 8.30 the dining hall was full again, and the queue was already forming in front of the Saint-Martin building. The social team is already in the oven and at the mill to provide the service.
Just before the opening, the team had to decide the day before on the leadership of a drunk and violent man. “It’s hard to decide, because we must not brutally exclude someone who is already excluded from society. But we must also protect other visitors,” Ms Pochon said. The man is finally expelled from the center for a week.
While breakfast is in full swing, a small table has been set up so that people can come and ask their questions in connection with administrative difficulties. The questions follow each other, which pleases the team in place, but also makes them shake. “We sometimes have to multiply and, above all, show a lot of adaptation,” notes Ms. Pochon.
A situation that Eliane Belser, responsible for the municipality’s emergency aid system, is familiar with. “The last two years have been very complicated for our teams with the health crisis,” she admits. “We have expanded the workforce” to strengthen them, she says.
This article has been published automatically. Source: ats