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Restos du Cœur helps nearly 1m

Special welcome for old people and lone parents with babies as charity starts latest winter campaign

NEARLY one million people are expected to get help from the Restos du Cœur this winter, with special services being opened for lone mothers and OAPs.

Last year the charity provided more than 115 million meals to 870,000 people and charity president Olivier Berthe said that number would rise by 7-8% this year due to the financial crisis.

The 28th winter campaign has more than 2,100 sites across France, including 85 Restos Bébés du Cœur, which provide specialised equipment and help for parents with babies.

In one, at Rue Saint Roch in Paris, the volunteers are trained to work with babies and welcome up to 300 mothers. The site, near the Opéra, has two rooms set aside three afternoons a week with milk, nappies and baby toiletries – plus a listening ear from counsellors and advisers.

Old people are not forgotten, as a centre in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis) has set aside special opening hours for OAPs. Centre boss Richard Sautour said he set the special hours so old people would not have to queue outside in all weathers.

He told Le Nouvel Observateur they started the special service because “it pained us to see them queue outside in the cold and the rain, sometimes with crutches”.

Restos du Cœur president Olivier Berthe said that over the past five years they had seen a 30% rise in the number of people using the service.

They were from different sectors of society, but still a majority of jobless. He added that lone mothers make up 40% of the people they help and old people made 10%.

Mr Berthe said the majority of their funding came from the generosity of French people, making up two-thirds of their needs. Another 15% came from European aid, although this programme – which helps 18 million people in Europe – is under threat due to budgetary cuts.

If you want to make a donation, contact Restos du Coeur on their donation website

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