It is a solidarity village resembling a fair that was held all day Saturday Place de la Bastille in Paris (IVe). A speaker installed in the middle of the square, under a blazing sun, broadcasts the hits of the rapper Tiakola. Behind the tables on which cans and food kits are arranged, dozens of volunteers make dance steps, room laughing. And the students are smiling.
However, we do not forget what prompted more than 1,200 young people from Paris and Île-de-France to register for this second meeting of the "Cop1 Village", organized by the Cop1 Student Solidarity association in partnership with 15 other associative actors. These precarious young people, most of whom are foreign students, queue up to collect fresh products, pasta, hygiene kits, cosmetics ... but also to meet volunteers in order to be accompanied on various themes, from access to the right to psychological support.
50 euros to end the month
"The festive side of the event helps to de-dramatize the distribution," says Babacar, one of the founding members of the association On fill the fridge, created in 2021 in the midst of the Covid epidemic and present in the village to distribute more than 1,500 cans and 3,000 cereal bars. "We sing, we dance, we try to put people at ease and we help them as if they were not in trouble," he continues. "Here, we don't feel in need," confirm Rym, 28, and her husband Aghiles, 30, both digital students in Cergy (Val-d'Oise). And we tell ourselves that when we are more comfortable and independent, it will be our turn to lend a hand."
This is the second time in 6 months that the Cop1 association organizes its solidarity village. 1,000 students had registered. There were more than 1,200 on Saturday.
With their school at 11,500 euros a year each, plus 1,000 euros monthly rent in Courbevoie (Hauts-de-Seine) and two Navigo passes, the Algerian student couple lives on barely 50 euros a month. "We get by thanks to these solidarity operations," says Rym, who says he goes to food distributions at least twice a month. This Saturday, the newlyweds leave with a tote bag full of dry products and fruits and vegetables, cosmetics and hygienic protections for Rym. "It should last us a week," Aghiles hopes.
At the heart of the news during the successive lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the subject of student precariousness remains hot and the current inflationary context does not help. "I realized that my receipt had exploded," says Araceli, a Spanish management student at La Sorbonne, who came to benefit from the aid for the first time.
More than 30,000 students "struggling" in the capital
Last December, the first "Village des Cop1" organized Place du Louvre (I) allowed 1,000 students to benefit from the help of associations. "But the needs are increasing," says bitterly "JR", 24, general manager of Cop1, which has 9 branches throughout France. "80% of our beneficiaries work alongside their studies, but that's not enough and at the end of their bachelor's degree, many are reluctant to continue their studies."
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According to a study conducted by the association in the fall of 2022, more than one in two students say they cannot eat enough, and 1 in 3 eats only one meal a day. In particular, Cop1 is preparing several studies to update the figures on student precariousness in France, the last of which date back to 2020, before the pandemic "It is estimated that nearly 30,000 students are struggling in Paris alone today," says the director of the association.
For beneficiaries who were unable to go to Bastille this Saturday, 4 weekly distributions are provided by Cop1 volunteers in Paris: Wednesday at Censier (Ve), Thursdays and Fridays at the Maison des Initiatives étudiantes (MIE) in Bastille (IIIe), and Saturday at Les Amarres, quai d'Austerlitz (XIIIe).