• The Agnès-Varda space opened two years ago on the island of Nantes.

  • The share of women increases to reach 7% of the public in great precariousness received here.

Social restaurant on the ground floor, bath-showers on the first floor, library area, laundry, reception and activity rooms... Opened two years ago on the island of Nantes, the Agnès-Varda space, reserved for the poorest people, “has been able to demonstrate its necessity”, notes the town hall (PS) of Nantes during a first assessment.

In 2021, 31,014 services were recorded (showers taken and meals served), i.e. attendance of 600 to a thousand users per month in this vast building, which remained open throughout the health crisis despite the confinements.

If the public received is largely male, more and more women in precariousness are presenting themselves there, to reach 7% of beneficiaries, in 2021.

Abbassia Hakem, assistant in charge of solidarity, notes this evolution of the public.

“There are three main profiles, those who are out of family or professional, others who have a sometimes very difficult street journey, but also a whole audience of migrant women.

Designed to support these new populations, the Agnès-Varda space has doubled its number of showers (access to which is now free), and can thus reserve several cabins for women.

A bath area suitable for families, often single women with small children, has also been fitted out.

“It is unfortunately particularly used at the moment”, notes Laurence Rivet, director of the establishment.

A socio-coiffeur and a socio-esthetician intervene occasionally to “work on self-image”.

“Danger is everywhere”

Claudie hasn't “yet” needed to come and wash here.

But this 44-year-old woman has been going very regularly and for several years to the social restaurant, where she can have lunch for 1.75 euros.

"I have no more help and will soon be evicted from my accommodation," she says.

So I come every day, just to eat well at least for lunch.

“This flirtatious woman, who has experienced “difficulties and violence” appreciates finding “a friendly place” where she leads sewing workshops that make her “regain confidence” in her.

“It's true that there are more women,” she notes.

Maybe before, they didn't dare… But it's so difficult to be in the street, and a woman on top of that.

The men, the harassment… The danger is everywhere.

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If the Agnès-Varda space does not offer accommodation, a new night stopover for women was opened last month in the Saint-Martin home, by the Eaux Vives Emmaüs association, with the city of Nantes.

This permanent place, which has 16 places, welcomes those “who need urgent shelter, to create continuity in the routes and avoid being put on the street”, explains the town hall.

"Our goal is for women to be able to come and rest safely at night and to be accompanied," says Abbassia Hakem.

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  • Nantes

  • Pays de la Loire

  • Social

  • homeless

  • Poverty

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