Geneva: Fostering positive social relationships

Promoting the psychosocial wellbeing of vulnerable groups

This summer we visited our partner in Geneva, Carrefour-Rue, who supports the Hameau des Chemineaux “holiday village”. The Hameau is located in a green area close to the center of Genev and it provides homeless people, or people living in disadvantageous socioeconomic conditions, with a place to rest and recover for a short period. It is based on the idea that a person’s wellbeing includes the right to a moment of rest, an idea that we share at Fondation d’Harcourt.

The village comprises several cozy caravans and communal areas where guests, currently ten, can interact. Guests are assisted by various social workers and volunteers who organize social and recreational activities throughout the year.

Summer is a particularly busy period for the Hameau, as it hosts many activities and events, such as an outdoor cinema, poetry readings, very popular gardening activities and concerts. During our visit Pascal Jenny, in charge of the activities at Carrefour-Rue, updated us on the major events organized at the Hameau des Chemineaux. Pascal reminded us just how important it is for every guest to become involved in the village’s management, taking up responsibilities which allow him or her to share their individual expertise. This is a way for everyone at the Hameau to experience positive social relationships, building on their guests’ resilience and restoring trust in others.

We had the pleasure of staying for lunch, which provided us with a prime example of what Pascal meant. The Hameau’s “chef”, Jacques*, worked for many years in various restaurants before losing everything he had. At the Hameau, he is able to put his experience at into practice: under his guidance, everyone at the village worked together to prepare lunch. Every dish was made with care, paying attention to how it was presented on the table. Needless to say, Jacques was excited to have provided everyone with such a pleasurable lunch, and we were delighted to have been invited.

It is experiences such as this one which prove to us that helping the individual is essential to a groups’ wellbeing. In the words of one of the Hameau’s guests, “a place like this makes me want to get up the morning and try to change my life”.

We are proud to continue collaborating with Carrefour-Rue and we look forward to our next visit!

* His real name has been changed for privacy protection reasons.

Some pictures from our visit:


Talking with Pascal

Enjoying lunch