From Christians to professionals. The Association Baptiste pour l’Entraide et la Jeunesse (Abej) and aid for the homeless (1975-2019)

Aid to the homeless for 1945
By Vianney Schlegel

Based on a monograph of the Association Baptiste pour l’Entraide et la Jeunesse (Abej), an association based in Lille that was active early on in dealing with homelessness, this article analyses the processes that drove the professionalisation of care for homeless people in France. Having started in a Baptist community, the Abej soon became a key player bringing aid to the excluded. It developed through a series of changes that affected the non-profit sector, health and social care policies, and anti-poverty movements since the mid-1970s. This development coincided with the formation of a professionalised care system for the homeless, so that the case of Abej provides unique insight into the processes involved. Lastly, the article shows the reconfiguration of the association’s identity: its religious identity, while not disappearing, faded away in favour of a growing recognition of its professionalism.

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