Health | In Nantes, young people with disabilities finally feel “like everyone else” in shared accommodation

At 29, Axelle Cruchet dreamed of leaving her parents. The young woman, who suffers from Down syndrome, “finally” gained her independence by moving into a shared apartment in an opulent house in the north of Nantes.

On the walls of her room, she once hung posters of horses playing, manes in the wind. Sitting on a bed with flowered sheets, her feet propped up on a carpet covered in stars, she recounts with a smile this movement that “changed (his) her life”.

“I’m so happy here, I found autonomy. I go for walks, walks, cook. I learned to wash my clothes by myself”, says the young woman proudly, with brown hair on her shoulders and a blue tank top. electric.

A few years ago, she lived “homestay” but “not for long”: “It didn’t go very well,” she whispers, ducking her head. So she went back to her parents, for lack of any other suitable self-catering accommodation solution.

In her new home, located on a quiet street in the north of Nantes, she lives with four young people with mental and cognitive disabilities and five young workers.

The Fratries company, which belongs to a non-profit endowment fund, has been subletting since mid-April a large 350 square meter building with a garden, swimming pool and barbecue.

“Our project aims to offer tailored support to young people with disabilities, but in a normal environment”, explains Emmanuel de Carayon, co-founder of Fratries and former general secretary of the Joyeux cafés, establishments that train and employ disabled waiters and cooks. deficiency.

– “Among Young People” –
During the day, caregivers come to the house to help young people with disabilities get dressed, run errands or cook, depending on their needs. The site manager lives with his wife and two children in an adjacent apartment.

On the ground floor of the house, the companions share a large kitchen, a living room with bay windows and a TV room. Upstairs, each occupies a bedroom with bathroom.

To decorate hers, Emma de Montclos, a 23-year-old with Down syndrome, hung a dozen pictures above her bed, memories of her childhood in Marseille and a recent vacation in Kenya.

His upstairs neighbor, Valentin Lepine, also wants to show his room, which two large windows bathe in light. “Sometimes you can tan,” says the 25-year-old, who has autism.

Both also dreamed of leaving their parents to live “among the young” and above all “like everyone else”.

“There is a hole in the racket. Housing is expensive and does not always correspond to the aspirations of young people who are tired of being marginalized”, emphasizes Emmanuel de Carayon.

To live in the Fratrias house, young people with disabilities pay an average of “between 700 and 800 euros” per month, according to their resources, specifies the co-founder of a project that wants to be “accessible to all”.

– “Breath of fresh air” –
Around a garden table where a zucchini gratin is expertly prepared by Pauline Birard, a young woman with Down syndrome who is as smiling as she is energetic, the roommates are sitting down to dinner.

Under the last ray of the evening sun, one recounts his long day at work while another fills his plate for the second time.

“The important thing is that we are all adults, on the same level. No one is responsible for the other,” says Aurélie Mary, 28, coordinator of home care for the elderly, sitting by the pool.

The income of young workers is “in line with market prices”, that is, 700 euros per month with charges. “It is normal, living with young people with disabilities is a choice, it does not justify a discounted income”, continues Emmanuel de Carayon.

Viktoria Gunnarsson, a 28-year-old teacher, settled at Siblings because she was sure to find her cheerful roommates a “long-term breath of fresh air.”

A “permanent” accommodation solution, the house does not impose a limit on the duration of the lease on its tenants.

Unique in France at the moment, the project is due to be duplicated: a second Fratries house is due to open in Rennes in spring 2023.

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