Solinum is an association whose mission is to provide tools to solidarity actors. It offers a digital guide referencing social assistance places and services for people in precarious situations.
The Abbé Pierre Foundation estimates that in 2020, there were nearly 300,000 homeless people in France, twice as many as in 2012, and nearly three times as many as in 2001. To this number must be added the 5 to 8 million people living below the poverty line.
The main problems that these people face today are:
- lack of access to information: Every day, all these people face one or more of the questions: Where to eat? Where to rest? Where to put your luggage? Where and how to go through the formalities? How to access housing? These difficulties of access can have a major psychological impact on homeless people. In the absence or lack of reliable information, they feel abandoned, or even “wandered”, and can be discouraged from seeking help;
- lack of data centralization: In front of a large number of solidarity initiatives, solidarity actors and beneficiaries are drowned in a flow of information that is not always up to date or complete;
- lack of objective data on social action: Decision-makers in both the NGO and institutional sectors need objective data to be fully aware of the problem of exclusion.
Technical details & Operations
In 2016, Victoria Mandefield created Solinum with the aim of centralising and giving homeless people access to information to know their rights. To design the most relevant solution possible, Solinum conducted a national study on precarity and digital. The association found that 71% of homeless people have a smartphone, and that 55% go online every day or so. However, existing digital devices are not adapted to their needs, and do not take into account their specificities (digital divide, ergonomics, illiteracy, language diversity, etc.).
The idea behind Solinum was to use the digital technology innovations to facilitate access to basic necessities and to facilitate reintegration.
Therefore, Solinum has created the Soliguide, a mapping of social action to provide effective guidance to vulnerable people.
Solinum’s development is based on three pillars:
- Centralising data relating to social action and the needs of people in precarious situations;
- Implementing means to update the data efficiently;
- Developing tools adapted to the various audiences.
In real terms, Soliguide takes the form of an online platform, freely accessible and free of charge, which lists places and services useful to people in need. The aim is to provide access to basic services, such as food, hygiene, health or equipment, for facilitating existing reintegration services, such as reintegration sessions or French courses.
Available in four languages, the guide is accessible to both beneficiaries and their carers. The results can be filtered to assist different types of people, since the structures for women, families or asylum seekers, are not always the same.
All Solinum projects are developed in close collaboration with the beneficiaries and professionals in order to adapt them to the different situations and territories. In addition, the majority of solidarity workers believe that Soliguide saves them time and facilitates their work (impact measurement study 2021, Solinum). The quality of the information, which is exhaustive and up to date, makes it possible to create a bond of trust between the support workers and their beneficiaries.
The information available on Soliguide is also disseminated in the form of a plug-in on the Croix-Rouge bonjour website, the French Red Cross’ reception, information and support platform for people fleeing Ukraine.
Deployment & Impact
Eight French departments are currently covered by Soliguide, for now mainly located close to Paris.
Since 2017, more than 13,000 structures and 32,000 services have been referenced in the Soliguide. In 2020, the website received over 400,000 visits.
In addition, the Soliguide team noticed that their service helps the emergencies that manage the reception of homeless people by decreasing the saturation of their telephone line. Using Soliguide saves an average of four minutes per call requiring referral (i.e. 12% of calls, out of a sample of 200 calls).
After launching a call for expressions of interest from solidarity actors in France, the association plans to expand Soliguide to regional capitals within the next two years.