On 22 and 23 June in Paris, the French Red Cross hosted the festival “Tous Engagés” (“All Committed”) in an effort to emphasise the vital role of social innovation in fostering solidarity and inclusion. “Innovation transforms the world and is the basis for most humanitarian action”, underlined President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca, in his opening speech as he recalled how the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was founded on innovation and creativity. These were the central themes of the festival “Tous Engagés” – the biggest event dedicated to social innovation that France has ever seen. It gathered around 1,000 participants from various social enterprises and civil society organisations, including staff and volunteers from the French Red Cross, as well as other National Red Cross Societies.
Social innovation for the benefit of all
“Tous Engagés” was the opportunity to underline the importance of social innovation in strengthening the French Red Cross’ work towards vulnerable groups. The festival provided a platform to discuss innovative projects led by Red Cross volunteers and staff, as well as by partner organisations. It aimed to stimulate collective reflection on the value of using social innovation to enable more inclusive societies, and to better respond to the challenges faced by vulnerable people and communities. Participants also debated issues like the opportunities offered by new technologies to support people with disabilities, or the future of first aid training.
A focus on innovation and sustainability
Participants had the opportunity to meet the coordinators of 150 innovative projects, developed by or in cooperation with the French Red Cross. Some examples of projects presented include:
The MeHandYou project aims to develop an online platform that is tailored to persons with disabilities. The initiative wishes to contribute to users’ empowerment through access to inclusive digital tools and peer counselling. By providing a safe space of expression, the platform will give users the opportunity to share advice, feelings, and experiences regarding their daily lives. The project is currently being developed by the French Red Cross and will be launched in a few months.
Food aid and sustainable development
The French Red Cross food aid team organised a booth showing different ways that volunteers can innovate and improve the sustainability of food aid. Examples of initiatives included solidarity gardens, joint cooking session, and tips for waste reduction. The festival was also a chance to present the work of the French Red Cross as an implementing partner of the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD).
Acquiring skills for the logistics sector while providing social assistance
“Croix-Rouge Insertion” is a French Red Cross initiative that provides professional opportunities to people in vulnerable situations through a variety of enterprises and organisations in the social sector. For instance, Croix-Rouge Insertion manages the logistical platform in Paris, which centralises the FEAD material aid which is distributed all over the country. People working at the logistical platform receive targeted training and acquire skills they can then use to find a job.
Leka: interactive toy for children
Leka is an interactive robot helping children with autism, trisomy or physical disabilities to learn and have fun. It aims to counteract the lack of attractive toys for children with specific learning needs. Leka is currently being tested in cooperation with the French Red Cross.
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