A partner of the Societe Generale Foundation for many years, La Cravate Solidaire was able to collect 2,000 kilos of work outfits thanks to the generosity of the group’s employees during Citizen Commitment Time. These outfits are now being redistributed to beneficiaries of La Cravate Solidaire and partner associations. In addition to the clothing donations, the initiative also allowed the association to directly test the effectiveness of its project. Recognised as a “La France s’engage” association in 2014, it distributes outfits and suits to help those excluded from the world of work to find a job. Supported by coaches, the beneficiaries are trained in job interviews. “This type of event is useful to raise company awareness and pass on our message,” explains Vincent Berthault, director of the Lille branch of La Cravate Solidaire. “It is an opportunity to establish a direct dialogue and face up to the realities of the world of work.”
A record collection for La Cravate Solidaire
It is a record for La Cravate Solidaire: two tonnes of clothes were collected at the Paris, Clermont-Ferrand, Pau and Lille branches after Citizen Commitment Time last spring. During this charitable event, Societe Generale employees took part in traditional sports challenges, but also gave directly via collection stands at the Tours in La Défense and Les Dunes as well as several regional entities. Several employees then helped the association during the sorting days. “We have a real connection with the employees. After the Citizen Commitment Time, we welcomed teams of twenty people to help us to sort. This allowed them to learn about the association and where their clothes were going,” states Nicolas Gradziel, co-founder of the association and director of operations, who is delighted to have “never received so much during a collection”. The clothes are now being redistributed as needed, depending on the size and career plans of the beneficiaries. “Between 20 and 30 people per week leave with a complete outfit, which weighs between 3 and 5 kilos. This gives you an idea of the scale of the operation,” he adds. This major collection also allowed the association to fill in some gaps. “We are usually short of shoes, belts, small sizes for men and large sizes for women. The great thing about a large collection like this is that we can meet these needs more easily.” Furthermore, 40% of the clothing collected by the association is redistributed to partner associations such as Emmaüs, Dans Ma Rue or Biz Boutik.
In Lille, La Cravate Solidaire was a great success with Societe Generale employees
Several months after the event, Vincent Berthault, director of the Lille branch - which collected over 300 kilos of clothes - fondly recalls these collection days. “[Societe Generale employees] really got stuck in,” he recalls. "Some of them even came to visit the association to get inspiration from the wardrobe - it’s the first time we’ve seen that!” He also remembers a "friendly challenge” between the Lille and Le Havre sites, which both took part in the collection, as well as a particularly animated closing ceremony, culminating in the now famous “tie theft” where the association collects the tie or scarf of the branch director at the end of each project. After the collection, the adventure continues: the clothes are taken to the La Cravate Solidaire premises where they are stored until the sorting session. “We select the pieces we are looking for then sort them by size, colour and type of clothing,” explains Vincent Berthault. "Then, they are redistributed to the candidates during our workshops.” As three workshops are held per week in Lille, the collection with Societe Generale employees allowed them to help around 60 people.