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Opening of a new family centre: La Maison Rigolo Comme La Vie-Noémi

Rigolo Comme La Vie crèches are strengthening their partnership with Noémi by setting up a centre where parents and their children can meet other families and receive support and advice.

A resource centre designed to create social ties, La Maison Rigolo Comme La Vie-Noémi is located in the centre of Roubaix and is open to all families, whatever their problems or needs.

Professionals and volunteers from a network of community partners in the Lille metropolitan area offer parents support and guidance through group and/or individual meetings in a friendly atmosphere. The informal setting helps parents talk and share more easily with La Maison’s volunteers and professionals.

Support is tailored to individual needs:

  • Family café: a friendly group setting where parents can share their experiences, learn from others and enjoy watching their children play together.
  • Parent/children workshops: an opportunity for parents and children to have fun playing together (e.g. cooking, sewing and arts & crafts).
  • Other activities include support, conversation, help with paperwork, party events and conferences.
  • Special arrangements are available for families affected by disability.

Regular get-togethers between a mix of families from diverse backgrounds help everyone to appreciate each other’s point of view, learn from each other’s experiences and overcome isolation by focusing on the parents.

The goal of the charity is to change the perspective and approach of people with multiple disabilities by offering tools to professionals and parents (information, training, research and equipment) to better tackle the problems they face on a daily basis. Its partnership with Rigolo Comme La Vie led to a crèche being opened for children with multiple disabilities, the Noémi crèche in Roubaix.

  • Jérôme, Rigolo Comme La Vie managing director,  and Laurence, Rigolo Comme La Vie brand & network manager

Laurence: “When we were setting up the Rigolo Comme La Vie crèches, the subject of parenting came up. ‘Parents aren’t born’ is what we often hear, it’s natural to doubt oneself. We want to keep the link between parents and their children as strong as possible, because they are their children’s first educators. So we make supporting parenting our number one priority.

We’ve been thinking about this resource centre project since 2011. We brought it up during official visits to the Noémi crèche which is designed to accommodate children with multiple disabilities. The crèche premises were originally a school and include a semi-detached house. The building layout was particularly suited to creating this family centre. Once we had defined our objectives, we went looking for partners and funding. Noémi is an active partner with which we were able to create this project.”

Jérôme: “Our aim at Rigolo Comme La Vie is for every crèche to be built with an educational purpose. When you examine the subject in depth, you can identify best practice and then expand it into other crèches (for example, facilities for children with multiple disabilities and intergenerational crèches). We have the same ambition for La Maison Rigolo Comme La Vie-Noémi: to test best practice in the parenting field and expand it into all our crèches. The same goes for the parents who can create a mutually supportive group for sharing good advice.”

Laurence: “Yes, we want this centre to act as a catalyst for parents to build supportive relationships outside of their family circle. Families in difficulty often lose confidence and feel guilty. By finding the courage to come and talk and being brave enough to ask for help, half the battle is won. Talking to someone increases their self-esteem and their confidence returns. The main objective is to make the parents feel less isolated, and then they can support each other. The question is, how do we encourage them to come to this centre? I am convinced that word of mouth is the key. Another parent needs to tell them that it’s a really helpful place where you can sit down and be listened to without judgement. Somewhere the doors are always open.”

Jérôme: “Our aim in the medium term is to prove that helping parents helps children. Then we can convince public and private stakeholders of the benefits and financial viability of this initiative so that it can be duplicated.”

  • Aglaé, manager of La Maison Rigolo Comme La Vie-Noémi

“I joined Rigolo Comme La Vie five years ago to manage the crèche in Roubaix. The crèche is located in a very socially diverse area. Some families urgently needed extra support to cope with a range of social problems, and more generally many parents had questions about their children’s education. I organized support programmes to meet their needs which allowed me to start forming partnerships. I was able to put the families in touch with charities and organizations to help them find concrete solutions. I trained as an early childhood educator and I’ve always considered the relationship between parents, children and professionals a priority.

My current job managing the Maison Rigolo Comme La Vie-Noémi is a natural continuation of my previous role. We started welcoming families at the beginning of the year while seeking to build partnerships with organizations and charities that can complement what we do, particularly in terms of tackling vulnerability and assisting with disability-related matters in line with Noémi’s expertise.

Access to the centre is completely open; families don’t need to join up or make any commitment. They can come once, occasionally or regularly. We want the parents to feel free and secure. That’s why we called the centre a Maison (‘house/home’) and furnished it like one – it’s homely and informal.

We offer various activities but we also want to design the programme in conjunction with the families so they feel like active participants. To date we’ve held a number of different workshops with the cookery classes being the most popular. Our kitchen is the main hub where everyone can mingle, contribute and chat! Passing on recipes is rewarding, and people speak to each other more freely when working together in a friendly atmosphere rather than sitting down face to face.

Whatever type of support is needed, we try to find concrete solutions with the families. Often the parents have their own solutions, but their day-to-day problems prevent them from seeing a way forward. Giving them time to think, talk and share their experiences helps them find it. There are no ready-made answers, which is why shared energy is often the key. Our aim is to support parents and develop their confidence to give them the motivation to take back control.

Being a parent isn’t easy for anyone, whatever your situation. At some point we all question ourselves, have doubts and lose confidence – it’s completely normal! The role of the centre is to promote sharing: everyone can help and learn from others, feel supported and offer their support. We want to open communication channels and give everyone the opportunity to feel useful. It’s a happy place and it’s creating real ties in the community. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’: this African proverb summarizes the centre perfectly!”

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