Helping the digitally excluded for free is possible!

Helping the digitally excluded for free is possible!



I was helping my stepmother who was 84 years of doing my tax return online and I wondered : how do isolated elderly people ? » This is how Michèle Poulenard decided to create the Passerelle association in Lyon six years ago. While the dematerialization of administrative procedures was already announced, this former employee of the Postal Bank wanted to anticipate by accompanying the public who are uncomfortable with digital technology.

It is difficult, in fact, to circumvent online procedures – whether it is a matter of redoing one’s Vitale card, activating one’s energy check, or requesting a birth certificate. And the approximately 2,000 France services houses, supposed to cover the whole territory to help users who do not have or do not master the Internet, are far from sufficient.

The problem also concerns the private sector, adds Robert Mlakar, co-founder of the association. If you have a problem with the energy supplier, telephone, mutual insurance, etc., it is taken into account neither by the town halls, nor by the France services houses. Everything goes through personal spaces. Even social landlords no longer send rent receipts by post. »

Health insurance, family allowance funds, pension funds, Pôle emploi… Passerelle, which currently has six employees, is multiplying partnerships with various institutions concerned with catching up with the consequences of dematerialization. Funded by private and public institutions, the association carries out the administrative procedures for individuals free of charge and also organizes training. With the support of the social protection groups Apicil and AG2R La Mondiale, she recently bought a “connected” motorhome which provides administrative services at the foot of social housing buildings.

” [Notre camping-car connecté] walk of the fire of god because it has no social connotation and does not resemble an administration”, Michèle Poulenard, of the association Passerelle

Since last February, 280 people have been supported. It works like hell because this motorhome is not social connoted and does not look like an administration », explains Michèle Poulenard. One person takes care of the first reception, which may consist of printing or scanning a document, consulting a personal space, while a second person takes care of the more complex procedures that she does on behalf of the beneficiaries. The computer is nearby, but I only use it secondarily. First I write everything down in a notebook »adds the manager.

A split offer

In the absence of associations or dedicated local services, requests for e-administrative assistance are transferred to a large number of actors, by logic of proximity rather than according to the nature of the need. In many cases, assistance relies on professionals or volunteers themselves, depending on their willingness to help », notes François Sorin, researcher at Askoria, a training organization for social intervention professions. Social workers and town hall clerks are particularly solicited by individuals.

To relieve social workers, departments or municipal social action centers (CCAS) rely on first social reception systems, which is not, however, the original mission », adds the researcher, co-author of a study devoted to the places and actors of digital mediation. And to mention other places concerned by these requests, such as libraries, digital public spaces or cyberbases.

Sf the municipality has worked on the subject well, the town hall is positioned as the entry point and must be able to offer a map of the actors. In urban areas, the network exists, but there is a lack of information »notes Jean Deydier, director of WeTechCare, Emmaus’ “social start-up”, which supports various players in the fight against digital exclusion.

Sensitized by the petition of a Spanish doctor against the dematerialization of banking services, the mayor of Boulogne-Billancourt opened an e-administrative help desk in March 2022. Since then, 320 people have already been supported in his hotel of town. Two agents help citizens to apply for family allowances, to complete their pre-applications for passport renewal, creation of Ameli or Doctolib accounts, etc.

“What takes time is to create partnerships (…) and a territorial network with media libraries, public writers, CCAS, Secours populaire… We realize that there are a lot of actors”, Romain Serre, city of Boulogne-Billancourt

Without any particular consultation, the prefecture even sends them people wishing to renew their residence permit to make an appointment… What takes time is to create partnerships so that everyone can be directed to the right place and to be able to create a territorial network with media libraries, public writers, CCAS, Secours populaire, the Red Cross. We realize that there are a lot of actors »lists Romain Serre, director of reception and quality at the city of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Despite more obstacles, initiatives are also emerging in smaller towns in rural areas. In the Côtes-d’Armor, the 200 inhabitants of the town of Moncontour are 15 kilometers from the first France services house. The town hall has thus made its own premises available to accommodate the associative third place Chez Yvonne. A business manager financed the development work. The coworking space, the meeting room and the cafeteria make it possible to stabilize the economic model when the mission of the third place is to reconcile the elderly with digital technology. Digital referents from the departmental federation of rural families are on duty there.

On Wednesdays, people come with their problems, which may be administrative or IT. For example: no longer finding photos of his grandchildren on his computer, or no longer receiving emails on his smartphone », explains Patrice Hénaff, treasurer of the association and specialist in social and solidarity entrepreneurship. The Repair Café organization also creates another type of relationship with users. His next project? Offer seniors the opportunity to master the basics of digital technology using tablets, during workshops that will be organized in various places in the territory.

Re-establish relations with the administrations

In Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, Philippe Mari is well aware of the damage caused by dematerialization. The regional leader of the national strategy for the prevention and fight against poverty launched by the State in 2018 brought together public actors (Regional Health Agency, Health Insurance, Family Allowance Fund, etc.), local and associative actors in within the Digital Bank. It is not a bank that finances projects but offers residents of the Alpes-Maritimes computer equipment, low-cost Internet packages and local digital support.

Our DNA is the search for autonomy », he explains. Impossible, however, to limit itself to this type of intervention: the Digital Bank is also committed to renewing relations between users and administrations, following the example of the primary local health insurance fund, whose Philippe Mari coordinates the social intervention actions.

Before, we went to one-stop shops in town halls, but today, that no longer exists. The method is to work with actors in the field, such as social workers from municipal social action centers or the France services house. We will give them secure communication tools to process files »predicts Philippe Mari.

The creation of the state start-up Aidants connect also signals, in its own way, the return of the counter, but in a new form… This platform allows social workers, reception agents or mediators to be mandated in order to carry out procedures on behalf of users, in a secure manner. Endowed with 10 million euros, this system, which is about to be generalized, is already used by Passerelle and by the city of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Find the articles in our series: “Digital castaways”

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