Diverse churches are working together in Lille, France, to help minors in the asylum seeker population by providing them with shelter and education. The work began in 2013 when churches began hosting up to 50 minors between 15‐17 years old who had no shelter.
There are about 200 asylum seeker minors on the streets of Lille, of which about 10% are girls. The minors are unassisted for 6 months or more as they wait on the government’s decision to be declared/accepted as minors. They are not given access to basic social services during this waiting period.
The diverse group of churches formed the Centre of Reconciliation which focuses its efforts on housing, administrative assistance, and schooling. In 2018, 85 minors were hosted by 200 families. These are organized into sectors shown by the pins (see attachment). Another 30 youth are hosted by twenty various churches and parishes on a rotation basis. This takes a lot of organization to make the arrangements, keep up with the changes and organize volunteers. A farmhouse is a new location that will soon begin hosting 15 youth. It will have a small support team living on the premises to assist.
In 2018, the Centre helped find places for 90 youth in 40 local schools in the Lille area. 30 more youth could be enrolled, but they don’t have the required housing for them. In addition to this, the Centre has begun the “School without Borders” to provide education for those who can’t go to school. 60 youth attend courses in French, math, history, geography and computer information. Courses are taught by 20 different volunteer teachers. The Centre is paying the related monthly transportation costs of about 60 youth in order for them to access and receive these services.
Read more about the Centre of Reconciliation in the attached document in French.