At the corner of boulevard Pasteur and rue Falguière, in the middle of the 15th arrondissement of Paris, the restaurant La Belle Étincelle is awaiting its first customers.
Among its thirteen employees, eight are mentally handicapped and are impatient.
A few weeks after its first opening in September, the restaurant had indeed had to close its doors for almost eight months, like all the others.
This Wednesday, the time is for the solemn inauguration, in the presence of Sophie Cluzel, Secretary of State in charge of disability.
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Antoine, an employee in the kitchen, repeats several times with emotion: “
I'm happy, I'm happy that people are coming and working
”. Working in the kitchen was his childhood dream, he landed his first job at La Belle Étincelle. Sophie Cluzel shares her joy and reiterates “
the government's desire to open the ordinary environment to all people
On the menu for this opening, French and revisited dishes, such as cold zucchini and feta soup, or cod with parmesan and basil crust, homemade using local and seasonal products.
In a pretty burgundy decor, the atmosphere is warm and friendly, carried by the smiles of exceptional waiters.
There is in this place a simplicity which shines and makes people happy,
” says Pia Olders, volunteer within the Tremplin Extraordinary association at the origin of the project.
Prices hover around 30 euros, "
" therefore, explains Arnaud de Larturière, also a volunteer.
Employees between the ages of 18 and 31, who suffer from cognitive impairments, autism spectrum disorders or Down's syndrome, are trained to work in the dining room or in the kitchen. They had to go through job interviews and have a trial period to complete before validating their CDI, like any employee. “
We have a form of high standards for the profession
”, explains Arnaud de Larturière, “
we want to allow our team members to improve their skills
”. These people suffering from various disabilities are brought together to form a team whose strength Pia Olders emphasizes: "
they are part of a collective project, are not there to make a career, it is a bit of the world right side up
Not being the only person with a disability within a team changes everything for these people, who are much more comfortable,
”explains Sophie Cluzel.
Being integrated into a team with other disabled people is beneficial for these people who are often isolated in the professional environment.
Le Figaro - Anne-Françoise de Taillandier
Hiring people with disabilities in a traditional restaurant requires a few adjustments that remain discreet: no gas in the kitchen, unbreakable crockery with color codes, table tops that absorb noise. “
The most important thing is to support each employee well,
” explains Arnaud de Larturière. The psychologists and educators of the Acces association, specializing in the professional integration of disabled people in mainstream settings, are therefore present alongside the employees in the restaurant twice a week. They bring an outside perspective, make sure that the tasks are well understood, that the rhythm is adapted, are a relay with the supervisors, and families.
Read also: The little pink soldier: an initiative by Edhec students to raise awareness of children's disabilities
Working with a disabled person requires entering into a different relationship, there is no filter, it is of great human richness
", explains Stéphanie Roland-Gosselin, coordinator of the Acces association.
Tony, chef, who supervises four people with disabilities, is enthusiastic: "
it requires patience in the explanations, but it is only happiness
For people with disabilities also the positive results are obvious: "
the ordinary working environment does not mean that the handicap disappears, but the evolution is real
", assures Karine Déchelette, psychologist in charge of the association.
Integrating people with disabilities into ordinary settings, whether in education, work, or housing, by creating inclusive environments is one of the government priorities put forward by Sophie Cluzel.
It recalls the extension until December 31 of the hiring aid of 4000 euros for the recruitment of disabled people.
This aid is paid to companies or associations which hire a disabled employee, on CDI or CDD of at least 3 months, and paid up to twice the minimum wage.
It has enabled the recruitment of 11,611 people since the start of the year, 66% of whom are on permanent contracts, despite the health crisis.
A unifying project
La Belle Étincelle was able to benefit from it, as well as from the support of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation for its reopening. “
In January, we were thinking about reselling because it was not financially
sustainable,” explains Olivier Olders, vice-president of the Tremplin Extraordinaire association. The restaurant finally reopened a few months later, with the aim of being economically viable. Armand de Boissière, Secretary General of the Foundation, is enthusiastic: “
here, we work with the intelligence of the heart