The Eurocities Social Affairs Forum will take place in Lyon on 8-10 November 2023. Lyon Metropole has long experience in social policies and tackling inequalities. Eurocities talked with Corinne Aubin Vasselin, Deputy General Director at Lyon Metropole, to know more about what the city is currently working on.
Governments are currently facing inequalities in the context of climate change and technological advancements. Humans have never been exposed to such threats before. Inequalities are now multidimensional and interconnected, which require more complex approaches and programmes to reduce them. In your opinion, how can local governments prepare themselves to face future challenges while working to mitigate current inequalities?
Lyon Metropole has the particularity of having a wide range of competencies, allowing the metropolis to act both in short and medium or long terms. That is why Lyon Metropole works simultaneously to reduce inequalities through its solidarity policies (housing, integration, health, autonomy, childhood, family, etc.) but also on medium/long-term actions ranging from behavioural change (residents, professionals, businesses, etc.) to investment operations in structuring projects.
The social aspect should be embedded in human progress, such as technological or ecological progress. Eurocities consider that no ecological transformation can be achieved without addressing inequalities. How can Lyon Metropole move forward without leaving anyone behind?
Lyon Metropole shares this responsibility with other stakeholders, such as the French State. Thanks to Project Métropolitain des Solidarités 2023-2027 (Metropolitan Solidarity Project 2023-2027), Lyon Metropole established a strategic framework to take action with all the stakeholders involved in its local territory toward the most vulnerable groups. The project has seven main priorities and 63 measures that are deployed across the metropolis and mobilise a large number of internal and external professionals.
Poverty is currently understood as unaffordability and lack of accessibility to essential services. However, poverty can also be understood as social exclusion due to the inability to meet social expectations. Insufficient living standards and high cost of living can lead to poverty. What measures can be taken locally to mitigate poverty’s impact on the population?
For Lyon Metropole, developing access to essential services is not only a matter of social responsibility but also of mobility, housing and education. Solidarity pricing has been introduced for public transport and school catering. Young people and students can access free-of-charge bikes thanks to the FreeVelov bicycles. A solidarity income for young people has been introduced. The implementation of the Housing First policy is ongoing. The rent regulation has been introduced two years ago.
Given the ongoing social and economic changes, how do you consider the future of social services?
The healthcare professionals demonstrated their crucial dimension during the health crisis in 2020, when they were front-line workers, adapting and reinventing themselves. Through the Metropolitan Solidarity Project, Lyon Metropole has chosen to support these professionals, empower them, and improve their working conditions. The future of our solidarity policies depends on the attractiveness of these professions.
The Social Affairs Forum 2023 of Eurocities focuses on cities’ strategies to work better with vulnerable groups. Some communities, such as Roma or other marginalised groups, are more likely to be impacted by the cost of living increase. Which strategies do you use to ensure that social services are accessible and inclusive for all community members, including marginalised or those at risk of exclusion?
The first priority of the Metropolitan Solidarity Project is “Unconditional welcome”. Developing an unconditional welcome within all social and medico-social services in the metropolis is a well-identified issue; it also results in developing “outreach” approaches to establish contact with those furthest away from institutions. Lyon Metropole is also coordinating the development of initiatives to combat the non-use of social benefits through the Territoires zéro non recours (Zero Non-Recourse Territories) trials and will design a metropolitan plan to use social benefits.
What Lyon Metropole is doing to improve the integration of vulnerable groups into society?
Since 2020, Lyon Metropole has extended a hospitality policy designed to provide a more dignified welcome for the most vulnerable groups. It has created alternative accommodation options to hotels for the populations under its responsibility. Lyon Metropole is involved with the State and the cities of Lyon and Villeurbanne in a risk-reduction approach for the most at-risk population living on the streets, in squats and slums.
The topic of Social Affairs of Eurocities taking place in Lyon from 8-10 November is how cities can work with vulnerable groups to mitigate the effects of crises. What are your expectations for this event?
The Forum will be an opportunity to share best practices with the other cities present in Lyon, exchange ideas with them from the study visits that we offer, and see together how we can better mobilise all institutions, particularly European ones, on the issues we will be discussing.