Marie-Hélène d’Ambrosio is responsible for CSR for retail Société Générale bank networks in France. Alongside around thirty of her retail banking management and communications colleagues, she visited an emergency accommodation centre for refugees managed by our partner organization Aurore. The centre supports social integration and offers employment opportunities for vulnerable or socially excluded people. The organization provides care and accommodation for people in need, helping them to integrate.
The 31 employees who took part in the solidarity day in the emergency accommodation centre included full-time company staff, employees on work-study contracts and interns. The idea was to involve people from the widest possible mix of backgrounds. First, the centre’s manager introduced the organization, as well as the centre, after which the employees spent four hours repainting the centre’s stairwell and making a fresco. For Marie-Hélène, this day involved entering a reality which we normally only see on television.
The solidarity day helped to build team spirit while offering employees the opportunity to be useful together. There were even some exchanges with service-users at the centre, despite the language barrier. One of the residents, a Sudanese man, joined the group and took part in painting all morning. In the space of a few hours, the accommodation centre was transformed. The employees’ efforts brought colour and life to the centre. The centre’s director, Youssef Anfi, believes the refugees’ living environment has improved thanks to this initiative.
At lunchtime, the employees enjoyed an excellent and generous lunch prepared and served by young people on the Aurore hospitality training integration programme! After lunch, the employees had a long discussion about the group’s CSR challenges.
The experience - an unforgettable one for the team - made them want to get more involved in this type of initiative. The Societe Generale Foundation wants to provide more than financial assistance to the organizations it supports. This type of solidarity action gives a practically and central role to Societe Generale employees.