A neighbourhood service that fosters social links and creates employment

The non-profit Lulu dans ma rue launched a new job creation model based on a neighbourhood concierge service when it opened a kiosk in the centre of Paris. This inclusive neighbourhood concierge service brings the local community together and is proving to be a resounding success. The service enables unemployed people to get back to work.

 

“I firmly believe that nowadays it is vital that we create employment opportunities for all so that everyone can find their place in society. The concept of neighbourhood urban services is a springboard for many people who are excluded from the job market or are long-term unemployed. It enables them to feel useful once again, provide a tangible service and earn extra income in addition to basic benefits.” 
Christine Rodwel


The founder of Emmaüs-Défi, an inclusion company which now employs 200 staff to recycle and sell second-hand goods, is the person behind the Lulu kiosk. Charles-Edouard Vincent, 42, devised the concept of an inclusive neighbourhood concierge service in 2014 with the idea being to offer sustainable work to people who had been on employment access schemes and are unable to secure employment with a company. Vincent turned his ambition into reality by combining a neighbourhood kiosk with a website to link up local residents looking for services and Lulus, the self-employed people who are offering their services.
 
An exploratory phase before the first kiosk was set up
The Veolia Foundation firstly supported the association, known as Lulu dans ma rue, during the pre-project phase, by financing the feasibility study for Paris. The findings enabled a physical hub to be set up and run on a trial basis for a year.
 
Consequently, a neighbourhood concierge service kiosk was set up in Rue Saint-Paul in Paris’ 4th district in April 2015. One of the association’s concierges welcomes local residents requiring a service and puts them in touch with a Lulu. The price starts at €5 for 20 minutes for odd jobs as varied as the skills offered by the Lulus: taking shopping up to a 5th floor apartment not served by a lift, putting up curtains, ironing, dog walking and babysitting. The system is simple: the Lulus are self-employed entrepreneurs who invoice the services provided to the non-profit, which manages the customers, offers mentoring for the Lulus and puts the two parties in touch.
 
Lulu dans ma rue


The scheme has proved to be an immediate success: in a month, Lulu dans ma rue took 311 orders and delivered 225 services thanks to 17 Lulus. The kiosk received over 3,600 visits and the website registered 10,000 hits in the first weeks.
 
Close monitoring so that the initiative can be further developed
The non-profit undertook a first review in autumn 2015. A study was carried out to assess the impact of the service on both users and beneficiaries. In five months, some 40 Lulus had officially registered with the non-profit and four out of 10 of these self-employed people were earning €550 - €1,200 a month. Close to 700 clients had used the Lulus’ services, making for roughly 2,000 orders and 25 orders a day.
 
The business is now a proven success. It generates income for the Lulus and increases the employability of these people who were previously unemployed. The kiosk has also proved to be a way of fostering community life. The inclusive neighbourhood concierge service concept is attracting attention far beyond the boundaries of Paris’ 4th district. Requests to open kiosks are flooding in from other cities in France (including Brest, Bordeaux, Toulon, Lille and Grenoble).
 
 
Lulu dans ma rue’s objective for 2016, with the support of the Veolia Foundation, is to open a further five kiosks in Paris. A first rollout phase is planned in two other districts of the capital in the first quarter of 2016 and the initiative will be further developed as of May 2016 with three other kiosks, notably making use of digital applications which are currently undergoing testing (an Android order management app for the Lulus and their clients). The non-profit’s presence in the various neighbourhoods will be bolstered by the existing Parisian kiosk operators: newspaper kiosks will take orders for Lulu dans ma rue so that clients have a service outlet as close as possible to their homes.
 
The non-profit is also planning to train the Lulus and work in partnership with regional social stakeholders, such as neighbourhood associations, local council social services, children’s services and health departments etc. Charles-Edouard Vincent is also mindful about keeping communications channels open with local tradesmen so that orders and clients are harmoniously shared out and to ensure that the service becomes well-established in Paris. The success of the project should result in these inclusive neighbourhood concierge services becoming a long-term initiative.