The Association Ayyem Zamen (which means The Good Old Times) opened in 2003 le Café Social Belleville, situated in the 20th arrondissment of Paris.
In 2008, we opened the second Café Social Dejean, which is located in the 18th.
The two Cafes are based in two of the most working class areas of Paris, where there is an equally strong presence of immigrants.
The Cafe Social is a concept :
It is a place which functions like a café, where we can enter freely and friendly, have tea, coffee and refreshments for very reasonable prices.
Above all, it is a place animated by social workers and volunteers who are dedicated to helping with paperwork and social administrative services.
The volunteers provide precious help for the support and supervision of the Cafe activities.
From its beginning, the Cafe Social addresses mainly the old migrants, who did not leave France and head home when the hour of the pension sounded.
The social workers who welcome them at the Café, intervene to facilitate their access to social rights and maintaining those rights.
They also lead initiatives of prevention and raising awareness to improve their level of information about social plans, services, and social support dedicated to the elderly.
The elderly immigrants who come to the Café Social always find someone available to listen to them and to confide in and speak about their daily difficulties : their family in their home country, the lack of money without an income, the arrival of illnesses, the feeling of solitude.
This ability to be heard, in a friendly listening context, provides them with certain relief and equally recognition. They feel they exist alongside others. They feel especially that a hand is lent out to them, for support.
The Café Social leads action to break the isolation experienced by elderly migrants who have insufficient resources and who live in foyers for migrant workers and in hotels filled by the month.
Therefore excursions, cultural visits, playing traditional board games, creative workshops flower arranging, patchwork and mosaic are regularly proposed to allow for social interaction between the elderly, for them to have exchanges and to share these memorable and pleasant moments.
Good weather permetting, a garden activity is proposed. It is often the opportunity to reconnect to forgotten pasttimes, finding a patch of the earth for planting, to renew their rural origins, and to allow his and hers personal history to bloom.
Convivial moments of sharing are regularly hosted such as breakfasts " like at home " and the monthly meal for the elderly.
Especially, since 2006, the association has organised "holiday breaks " to allow very isolated elderly people to go on holiday. Whilst on holiday they do not have to worry any more about daily tasks like cooking. They have the comfort, which they do not usually have, like the opportunity to shower every day. For a few days, they find the pleasure to eat varied and new foods, and discover cities and return to places where some of them were previously based, whilst working on construction sites, as builders.
The question of the old immigrants is often forgotten. It's as though this public did not matter or count, or if so, very little. Because it is ignored by the politics of public policies and in particular by plans dedicated to those advanced in age.