Emmaus Bussières-et-Pruns, a welcome centre for asylum seekers
Let’s take a look at a different facet of our movement with the Bussières-et-Pruns group and their initiative to provide a dignified welcome to asylum seekers.
The group has been running a welcome centre for asylum seekers in a small village in Auvergne since 2004. This social centre, which receives government funding, has the following objectives:
- Welcoming and housing asylum seekers during the administrative process
- Offering administrative, social and medical support
- Providing schooling for children at the centre
- Organising socio-cultural activities
- Supporting these people once the authorities have taken a decision on their request for asylum
The people living in this centre are all waiting to hear whether they will be recognised as refugees or not.
Originally an order of nuns donated the building to the Abbé Pierre Foundation which then loaned the premises to Emmaus Bussières-et-Pruns for free. It wasn’t easy at the beginning: they had to change the ideas of welcome and community amongst those living at the site to make it compatible with the Emmaus model, ensuring that all those who arrive at the centre, no matter their past or their future, can say “I was welcome at Emmaus Bussières-et-Pruns”. And this despite the fact that these people must leave the centre shortly after a decision has been taken by the authorities.
The group is currently hosting 100 people, it is at full capacity. Approximately 50 of these people live in the former convent in Bussières-et-Pruns whilst the others live nearby in flats in Aigueperse, Mozac, Riom and Ménétrol. The group welcomes both families and people who have travelled to France on their own: there are 70 adults and 30 children at the site at the moment. The group provides long term support, helping to prepare these people for their next step, whether they are granted asylum in France or not,
The team of 9 staff members and 30 volunteers work hard to create the best possible conditions so that these people can put together their request for asylum in an optimal environment. The group also helps these people to rebuild themselves as individuals and/or as families after sometimes highly traumatic experiences. They learn about French culture and customs within the group but they will also be involved in several activities.
Based on Emmaus’ values of solidarity and humanity the Bussières-et-Pruns group is proving, on a daily basis, that living together as a community, no matter whether you’re a local or you were born thousands of miles away, is not only possible but is actually a great experience for all involved.
© Emmaus Bussières-et-Pruns