A former train station transformed into a school hostel for young disabled people

20 years old, the age of all possibilities. For young people with an intellectual disability, this is the age without perspective. T Cap’21, who doesn’t see it that way, sees a great future for them. The association has transformed the disused station of Niolon, near Marseille, into a unique place, both a hostel and a training school. This pilot project will be rolled out elsewhere, in France. Her name ? Train Inc’ Cafe.

Sand on the ground and jute pergola @Marcelle

Tourists approach the refreshment bar in the yard of the Niolon station. Lucie, wide smile and sparkling eyes, do not wait for their order, she signs: ” May I offer you? drinks ? Not alarmed by the characteristics of ”Lulu”, carrier of trisomy 21, the group places an order. And joins the many customers who come to enjoy the coolness of the place while waiting for the train that runs along the creeks of the Côte Bleue, northwest of Marseille.

They didn’t stop at the Train Inc’ Café (aka ”TIC”) out of pity or for a good deed, but for the setting and the ” friendly decor “says Juliette. The girl points to the sand on the floor and the pergola covered with jute coffee bags, the raw wooden tables and the furniture made from recycled pallets. And beyond that, the blooming vegetable garden.

  • The future of a 20-year-old with an intellectual disability? The house, the heart of life. Or, for the lucky ones, theEsat (help center through work) that employs only disabled workers.

Training in service professions, catering, hotels, horticulture, etc.

Sea view from the guest room on the second floor of the station @Marcelle

Since its opening in July, the TIC has been full. In addition to the coffee, the three bedrooms on the second floor – wooden floor and sea view – welcome guests who like to spend a few days in this touristic place. Behind the scenes, ten young people from T Cap’21 are trained in various professions: catering, hotels, gardening, sewing, baking (the association has a kneader), wood.

But also a house painter, because it is the association that renovated this beautiful building with its own hands in the early 1900s, except for the major works. The layout was done on a voluntary basis by students from ENSAD (Arts-Deco) in Paris, enthusiastic about this major project.

  • Train Inc’ Café: Train as “training” = training. Inc’ like ”Inclusion”

Employees, just like the others

A station transformed into a hostel-school for young people with disabilities 2
Pierre-Laurent, counter service @Marcelle

It must be said that the association is hitting hard with this hostel school. Not only does it train young people with intellectual disabilities in jobs that recruit in the mainstream, but it also offers a wage contract. An important detail for Katia Bergamelli, president of the association T Cap’21 and mother of Lucie: ” This means for our young people that they are ‘part of the society’: they receive a minimum minimum wage and pay their social security contributions, unlike the Esat where they are simply compensated by the state “.

And in ordinary

In addition to financial recognition, the activity is more exciting for some. Pierre-Laurent, for example, prefers contact with the public, in the Train Inc’ Café, than the solitude of his position, in his Esat in Marseille, where he deals with the packaging of food products. ” USAWhat I like is the service? This 28-year-old man confirms, recently holding the hand of his lover Lulu. The 25-year-old girl, until now in a Foyer de Vie, prefers to do the dishes, “oCall me Miss Plonge “. And Nathan, he is satisfied with ” do the garden “.

Training here and elsewhere

T Cap'21
“Always on with T Cap’21” @Marcelle

Training is a top priority for the association. The young people benefit from theoretical lessons on the spot (language teaching, clothing, etc.) and enrich their experience by doing internships in other restaurants. Etik (formerly Simply Food, company restaurant Voyageurs Privés) in Aix or L’Oiseau Rieur in La Ciotat, where Pierre-Laurent was still working the day before. ” myriam (editor’s note) gave me a lot of money », says the young man very proudly and announces 42 euros with his fingers. ” These are the tips “, Katia Bergamelli deciphers.

  • The right to work is enshrined in our constitution. But many employers prefer to pay a fine to theAGEFIPH value FIPHFPrather than employing a person with a disability.

A bistro with organic vegetables from the garden

Baker training is also given at Train Inc’Café @T Cap’ 21

Lulu also likes to prepare salads and pies with vegetables from the garden – about forty. This snack, offered this summer, will give way to a bistro in November. The chef, working in a restaurant in the Niolon creek, is looking forward to this meaningful function, with organic or reasoned products and home-cooked dishes.” even puff pastry ‘, the president of the association specifies.

Of course there is also good organic bread – six or seven different ones – made by young people. The association will soon be repatriating its mess, currently in the bakery trainer Un pain C’est Tout, in Gréasque.

On-site housing for young workers

Miss Dive
Nathan, budding gardener, and Lucie, “Miss Plonge” @Marcelle

The first ” brigade will employ six young people with a part-time permanent contract in the autumn. Some in the quarter, like Lulu wanting to continue the Hearth of Life because while not being stimulated at all, she is. all [ses] friends “. Those who live far away can sleep on site, in the rooms on the first floor that are reserved for them.

It’s no problem for Pierre-Laurent, he lives in a train station, in Ensuès-la-Redonne ” in an apartment alone next to my mother’s house “. Over the next few years, a dozen more youngsters will join the team with a CDD Tremplin. This four-month to two-year contract allows them to train to a “ regular job “.

Tourist Agent and Sports Guide Jobs

Niolon station
Apprentice painters for the renovation of the Niolon station @T Cap’21

Other professions will be approached, thanks to the ideal location of the Train Inc’ Café, next to the Marseille-Miramas train exit and on the edge of the Calanque de Niolon. For example, the profession of tourist agent”, indicate the start of the customs trail, the beach or even the activities in the creek explains Katia Bergamelli. Or that of a sports guide thanks to a collaboration with a paddle rental association. ” They take customer reservations at the station, while they help launch downstairs », specifies this ultra-dynamic quadra, made available by her employer, the CMA-CGM.

Various youth projects

niolon station
Niolon creek, with the elevated station

On the sidelines of the catering industry, the association is buzzing with ideas. It plans to partner with Niolon’s UCPA, a sports center that ” also has a cafe, accommodation and boat launch. Potential starches…”, laughs the chairman.

She also plans piano lessons for young people, with the association ”À la scope de tous”, on the instrument offered by ”Les Passeurs de Piano”. This association in Avignon also offered them a carcass that will become the future bar. As part of the sewing workshop, the youngsters will appreciate diving suits in bags, which are sold on site,” with a jute exterior “.

And the residents

Flower festival
“Festival en Fleurs”, piano festival at the Train Inc Café

As a factory of the areas in the third place (bonuses), the association will offer activities for residents, such as a coworking space on the ground floor” with digital tablets available And of course she wants to continue the open stage with shows or concerts (the piano festival in July was a success), some by the young people themselves.

  • T Cap’21 as Abilities, Self-determination and Life project. And of course, like ”you’re pet”.

An obstacle course

T Cap'21
The permaculture vegetable garden in its infancy, in 2021 @T Cap’21

The Train Inc’ Café seems like a fairy tale, because there are so many partners (see bonus). This was not always the case. We had to deal with the slowness of the process: convincing Gare & Connexion, the owner of the property, and then waiting three years for the keys. Compile the file to receive the ”Custom Company” approval in associative form (see bonus).

And with working committees to convince the other parents of the association – mainly single mothers – of the soundness of the project”, so that they adhere and participate “. It was not won. Katia Bergamelli, who in the eyes of more mothers may seem too daring ” protective with their child, she was almost alone.

Convince the locals

It was also necessary to clear the 500 m2 derelict garden – a real landfill site – and then work the soil. Convince the inhabitants of the calanque, who are rather careful, to welcome disabled people into their homes.

Finally, be patient with the craftsmen, between those who don’t come anymore – or almost never because of their overtime – and the dishonest, “unscrupulous with the handicap”.

But also beautiful stories

Scouts and guide France
Signage workshop with the Scouts and Guide France @T Cap’21

At the same time, this project attracted wonderful energies like a magnet that came to lend a hand. The Scouts et Guides de France de Lyon carried out the signage with the young people for a week in July, using driftwood picked up on the coast. Priests, then customers of the refreshment bar, helped the volunteers, such as Pierre Stocker (Lulu’s father and linchpin of rehabilitation), set up the pergola. Dylan, a web developer in Marseille, gave his time for the works and to mentor the young people.

Change the attitude of society

At the moment, a volunteer from Aude, Alain, has even suspended his activity to activate the development work in the attic, on the top floor. Future guest house.

Finally the residents, now won over by the project, introduce themselves ” many things with young people. Such as renovating walking paths or gardening together in the vegetable garden. A win for Katia Bergamelli. It aims to change the way society looks through an approach that ” distances itself from misery and positively surprises the public “.

Spread the concept

Katia Bergamelli
Katia Bergamelli, the day of the key handover in 2021

T Cap’21 has the ambition, not to make a profit, but to be economically viable. After two months of activity, the association has tripled its expected profit. Katia Bergamelli knew the business model held up. And that the project was going to explode,” and again we did not advertise “.

The ambitious, supported by Sylvain Bucquet of the emblematic company Philae (see bonus)) wants to expand Train Inc’ Café elsewhere. ” USAar there are not enough devices for the mentally handicapped and the model is ultimately simple – a disused station, an association and partners Since then, it has inspired Gare & Connexion. The company has launched La Place de la Gare (formerly 1001 Gares) across France with equally innovative and useful projects.

What can a social start-up look like?  5

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[pour les abonnés] Project Partners – “Custom Company” Approval – Finance –

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