Originally set up in the 1960s for ex-convicts who had no place to sleep or work when they got out of prison, the National Committee for Social Protection (CDNS) has since expanded to providing care to drug and alcohol addicts, single-parent families, and people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.
Many of its clients have fallen through cracks in Luxembourg’s social safety net, and the CDNS is often the only place they can turn to. The NGO is not well known to the general public, but the organisation--financed by the state and several charities--and its roughly 100 staff has had an impact on many lives.
It runs several programmes. Nei Aarbecht (new work), created in 1986, for example, offers a way back into the job market for long-term unemployed people. It offers a job, housing, food and support. The shop, located in Helmdange, collects secondhand furniture, books, household appliances and wares and clothes. The items are cleaned and repaired before they are resold.
There is also the CNDS Vollekskichen (community kitchen) in Bonnevoie, where people can get lunch and dinner at subsidised prices. The staff is recruited from those on the unemployment roles at the jobs agency Adem and people receiving public income support (RMG). CNDS Wunnen (housing) offers temporary shelter, transitional accommodation, and runs the “Housing First” scheme to tackle long-term homelessness.
CNDS Naturaarbechten (working with nature) offers people who are very far removed from the jobs market therapeutic help by employing them in nature conservation projects. People who have very few qualifications and mild disabilities can work without excessive pressure and according to their capabilities. Projects such as working with wood, maintaining ponds, beekeeping, and learning gardening and farming also provide a service for the community.
Abrigado, also known as the “Fixerstuff”, is a drug addiction centre in Bonnevoie where the top priority is the reduction of harm.
The Services de l’Entraide (mutual aid services) offer personal services to the public, such as gardening, cooking, carpentry, laundry, and selling second-hand clothes.
The group says that it does not give up on people; some have been in their care for more than 20 years. Gilles Rod, the director, states that poverty is closely linked to housing in Luxembourg. So their next project is a housing project for 20 people in Mersch, and a new building for the Naturaarbechten and the Services de l’Entraide.
Furthermore, Rod says, the job market is becoming increasingly specialised, making it difficult for people with low qualifications to find work.