One-day strike by homeless helpers

Samu Social says government pledge to find accommodation for families has not been met

1 August 2011

SOCIAL aid workers in France are taking part in a one-day strike today to campaign for more government help for homeless people.

The Samu Social, which provides care and assistance to people in distress, says it is overstretched and having to turn people away.

Workers will demonstrate today in a dozen towns and cities around France, including Paris and Lyon.

They say shelters are full and the state has cut back its funding for hotel accommodation, while the number of calls to emergency number 115 continues to grow.

Samu Social president Xavier Emmanuelli, who founded the group in 1993, resigned last month in protest against the lack of means available to the group.

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë said the cuts were "irresponsible". The Mairie de Paris has offered a one-off subsidy to help the organisation.

One Samu Social worker in Lyon told France Info: "We regularly meet families on the street but we can only give them blankets and water - we cannot house them.

"They sleep in deplorable conditions. [Housing minister] Benoist Apparu said no baby would be left to sleep on the streets, but that is clearly not the case."

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