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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Front de la solidarité pour vacances populaire

by By Ludovic Tomas

Published in l'Humanité on 28 April 2006

Solidarity with the Poor so They Can Go Away on Holiday

Translated by Patrick Bolland

Translated Sunday 7 May 2006, by Patrick Bolland

Solidarity. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of workers gaining the right to paid holdiays, the group Secours populaire (1) wants twice as many children to go away for their holidays.

What if, 70 years after the Popular Front, the same degree of unanimity could be regained today? Only one member of the National Assembly and two Senators voted against paid holidays in 1936. The president of Secours populaire is reminding decision makers that today, in 2006, only one in three children gets away on holiday. For adults, it’s about 50 per cent. Secours populaire is launching an appeal to all those concerned to double the number of children who will go away for at least one day this summer. The group’s initiative is getting the attention of humanitarian organisations, public authorities, worker-management committees in public and private enterprises, social tourism associations, and partners in the private sector.

At the Ascension week-end break in early May, 300 economically disadvantaged people will be going to Deauville. In the Paris region, the big day for those who usually don’t take holidays will be 22 August, at Trouville. Socially isolated and low-income senior citizens will also be able to share in the festive spirit on 15 August at the André-Citroën Park in Paris. As of the end of April this year, Secours populaire is appealing to families to volunteer to provide real holidays for a child who wouldn’t otherwise have this.

For Secours populaire, the right to holidays is a struggle that dates from its earliest days of support for the needy. In 1944, before the group assumed its present name, children whose parents were shot by the Nazis or deported to concentration camps were already being sent to holiday camps. “Our role in the field of popular education is to insist that people have a right to go on holiday, since families in need are not demanding this themselves”, Julien Lauprêtre explains. “Holidays are not a luxury. For children growing up, holidays are as important as getting fed”.

This year, 50,000 school note-pads with the slogan “Saying it is doing it” will be distributed to put together the best memories of holidays - or of not being able to go away on holiday. For this special campaign, Secours populaire has thought up new ways of collecting children’s stories: volunteers working for the group will be handing out straw hats and pins at popular events, such as the May 1st celebrations and the fête de la musique on 21 June. Through this massive expression of solidarity, we can see there is no crisis when it comes to volunteering. Quite the opposite: last December Secours populaire managed to mobilise one million volunteers.

[Translator’s note]
(1) Secours populaire is a non-profit association which is primarily dedicated to exclusion problems related to children and poor families. Short term actions consist in providing food and clothing, while in the long term, the association’s goal is “social inclusion” for all, access to culture, sports, hobbies, health, holidays, the whole gamut of human rights, while preserving everyone’s dignity in mutual collaboration. Elsewhere in the world, the SPF works with local partners on development and educational projects. See http://www.secourspopulaire.fr/english.0.html

Original French text on l’Humanité’s Website:

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