The Compagnons Bâtisseurs association deploys its self-help approach to home renovation

The Rexel Foundation renews its support to the Compagnons Bâtisseurs in improving vulnerable families’ living conditions.

Lille, Fresnes-sur-Escaut (France)
2019 to 2022


Project description

Already a partner of the Compagnons Bâtisseurs since 2015, the Rexel Foundation is supporting a new local initiative of the association, deployed in the neighborhoods of Lille and Fresnes-sur-Escaut. Its goal is to roll out mutual assistance and community actions enabling residents to better manage the maintenance and use (especially regarding energy) of their homes and to improve their living conditions.

This initiative, which is part of the CapaCité Habitat national program, is included in the #TremplinAsso call for expression of interest launched by the “Commissariat général à l'égalité des territoires” (CGET, General Commission for Territorial Equality) in 2019. It will be implemented via 21 territorial actions covering about 60 priority neighborhoods identified in municipal policies.

The Compagnons Bâtisseurs’ action is supported by several local actors from Lille and Fresnes-sur-Escaut: social landlords (SIGH, Maisons et Cités, LMH, etc.), the region, the town of Fresnes-sur-Escaut, and the metropolitan area of Lille.


A social and practical approach

The self-help approach to housing renovation developed by the Compagnons Bâtisseurs enables households to participate, with the help of a support worker, in the renovation works needed to improve their homes. Each household can manage some of the renovation works by themselves, depending on their abilities and the help received, or place orders with building contractors for the remaining works that require professional involvement.

This helps the beneficiary households engaged in a renovation project to become actors and decision-makers in the management of their living environment, increasing their self-confidence and efficiency. This approach, based on mutual aid, also strengthens ties within the community, especially between neighbors, with a long-term beneficial effect on social and professional integration. 


A dedicated support system based on neighborhood workshops

The renovation works conducted in beneficiaries’ homes are only one element of the self-help home renovation approach, which is based on four pillars organized around a physical space: the neighborhood workshop.

These four pillars include the interventions performed in the beneficiaries’ homes (renovation works and repair training), as well as other actions taking place in public and community spaces (collective training and tool library):

  • The renovation works are co-conducted with the tenants, with external support (other tenants, close family, external volunteers, etc.).
  • Collective training where residents gather around a renovation or DIY theme, sometimes chosen at their request. These play an essential role in maintaining the local social dynamic and helping beneficiaries gradually become technically autonomous.  
  • Repair training, meeting the immediate needs of residents.
  • The tool library, enabling autonomous households to conduct their own DIY works. 

In addition to this, the association develops a deep understanding of the dynamics at work in these territories by embedding itself within the social life of the neighborhood. This enables it to better guide the residents toward the local actors that can accompany them on other issues than those related to housing.

The approach can thus help improve the living conditions of beneficiaries in their homes and create a better quality of life in shared spaces. It also allows them to gain autonomy in the maintenance and use of their home, fosters and strengthens their capacity for action and, finally, supports their social integration.

To achieve these goals, the association has designed a three-step action plan, scheduled over three years. It consists of:

  • implementing the project in the local context, with help from partners and stakeholders
  • building and training field teams
  • creating trustworthy spaces and connections with residents to better support them in conducting their renovation works.  

Discover more about this program in video


Find out more about "Les Compagnons bâtisseurs"

The association Les Compagnons Bâtisseurs, present on the national scale for more than 50 years, aids those suffering from substandard housing by helping them to remodel or build their homes themselves with the assistance of a technical leader and volunteers. The organization also facilitates the economic integration of those in need within the building sector through work-integration and training projects. Finally, it welcomes volunteers and young Community Service participants, who contribute to the management and leadership of its network.

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