Need a small repair? Looking for a little job?
Think of a Lulu!
A scheme which, through street kiosks, matches long-term unemployed people with people in their neighbourhood who need one-off or regular small jobs doing – such as home repairs, some gardening, ironing or babysitting – is proving a hit and is starting to expand.
The association Lulu Dans Ma Rue mainly operates in Paris, but has now also opened in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine. While it is still focussed on Paris and its suburbs for now, it says it gets many requests to open elsewhere which it is seriously considering.
Founder Charles-Edouard Vincent was inspired by working with the charity Emmaus, which employs homeless people to repair and re-sell donated goods. He realised a typical job was often an impossible dream for people who had been out of work for much of their lives. The ideal solution for them would be work in which they could choose their hours and activities – and Lulu Dans Ma Rue offers just that.
The scheme finds them local jobs which pay €10 - €25 per hour, and also helps them navigate the micro-entrepreneur regime so they can start community-minded businesses offering services like feeding pets, watering plants, housework, or tutoring.
With its local focus, Lulu aims to encourage a ‘human dimension’ in daily life. Communications director Pauline Desmoulins, said: “People are afraid of talking to their neighbours and we want to change that.”
It became clear that the idea could interest others such as retired people, students, even employees wanting to earn a bit extra. Ms Desmoulins said: “Retired people can often find themselves socially isolated once they stop work. They are often active, fit and skilled but with nothing to do all day.
“Lots enjoy helping other people. It isn’t just a way of earning money, it’s a way of getting to know others living in your neighbourhood.”
The association takes a 21% commission from the Lulu’s income in return for its help with set-up and finding work and has over 400 Lulus and more than 50 employees. The Lulus can do as much or as little work as they like (and are free to do other, non ‘Lulu’ work as well if they wish).
“Some people work nearly full time, others have regular jobs – one morning a week doing gardening or housework, for example, and others just do a bit when they feel like it. That’s what makes our community rich,” said Ms Desmoulins.
The scheme (luludansmarue.org) has 11 sites where people can get information on being or hiring a Lulu, open 11.30 to 19.30, six days a week.