Who Are We?
Le Refuge is the only organization in France recognized by the State, proposing multiple sources of support (social, medical, psychological, legal, financial) as well as work reintegration and temporary accommodation for young people above 18 who are victims of discrimination related to homophobia or transphobia. This assistance is entirely free of charge for those in a situation of a family breakdown. The aid is supported by public funds as well as private donations.
Le Refuge was founded in 2003 in response to the lack of support available for those victims of homophobia and transphobia. The Montpellier-born organization has since spread across the country and was recognized as an official charitable establishment in 2011. In France, there has been very little response to the distress experienced by the victims of homophobic/transphobic discrimination, triggering potentially disastrous consequences. Figures show that the majority of suicide attempts occur during the teen years, when young people are isolated and have no sense of belonging to a social group. They may face actual rejection from their family or fear future rejection. Young homosexuals are between 7 and 13 times more likely to try to commit suicide than young heterosexuals.
The support provided can be psychological. Our volunteering psychologists provide optional meet ups with each youth, in order to assist him/her through a period of stabilization at Le Refuge and guide him/her on the way to personal development.
Le Refuge provides a non-judgmental space, either remotely or through duty periods held in its different centers, which will enable the youth to assume his/her identity and sexuality, with the support of a team of volunteers and social workers.
In 2013, the national hotline counted over 66,500 text messages and 1,000 hours of calls exchanged with young people in need for support, care and listening.
Le Refuge aims at gradually accompanying the young adults towards independence. Our volunteers and social workers assist them in their administrative, medical and social duties such as health insurance requests, paperwork, etc.
In order to guide a young person towards progressive autonomy, our teams and partners help him/her identify his/her skills and define a suitable path of work or study. Regular appointments are made with the Job Centre or the "Mission locale d'insertion" in order to become familiar with the professional environment and job search methods. These appointments come along with job research workshops such as learning how to write CVs and cover letters. This maximizes their ability and likelihood to receive job opportunities.
When young LGBT people have no other option but to leave their family home – either because they are kicked out or because they choose to leave – Le Refuge provides an accommodation (it may sometimes be for the very short term, just the time for Le Refuge to engage a mediation with the family if the young person is up for it). Each of these LGBT adolescents all need to be listened to in a guilt free manner and to receive specific support. However, the employees of regular rehab centers are not trained for these issues. Dimitri stayed in a traditional psychosocial rehabilitation center, and explained: "This environment was destructive. I wonder if the staff is homophobic, poorly trained or just unable to hear and understand the issues around homophobia." (Le Monde, September 15th, 2005).
Le Refuge currently has 70 accommodation spaces at disposal within shared apartments in Montpellier, Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, or in hotel structures in Lille, Avignon, Bastia, La Réunion, Perpignan, Strasbourg and Narbonne.
The accommodation period is renewable for 12 months, depending on the needs and specificities of each person. It enables the youth to gain some stability whilst getting his/her financial and material independence. He/she is assisted by professionals and volunteers who will help build his/her self-confidence again and find an appropriate work path. The accommodation system also teaches them to be in charge of the daily chores (cleaning, cooking, laundry...)
Thanks to networking and partnerships, this individual support coordinated by a professional social worker includes food access, psychological support, legal assistance and prevention.
Le Refuge is deeply involved in prevention of homophobia and trans phobia. The organization conducts multiple school and high school interventions to raise awareness about homophobia and transphobia among students and teachers. In 2013, Le Refuge addressed over 3,000 students through 2 hour long debates. Moreover, Le Refuge is reinforcing its collaboration with the Youth Judicial Protection Service by establishing workshops for imprisoned minors, aiming to fight against homophobia and transphobia.
Therefore, the objectives of Le Refuge are the following :
- Psychosocial support of young LGBT people aged between 18 and 25 years old and victims of discrimination
- Raising public awareness about the distress of these victims
- Setting up multiple actions in order for Le Refuge to gain public attention and to be easily identified by young LGBT in need
- Initiating and supporting any study, research, action or training related to the prevention of homophobia and transphobia
- Establishing partnerships with any recognized institution whether public or private, which takes action pursuing the same objectives as Le Refuge.