On board the Belem, young people regain self-confidence to return to employment

On board the Belem, young people regain self-confidence to return to employment

The last large French three-masted ship from the 19th century still sailing takes young people in integration for one to three days at sea. Objective: to transmit to them the values ​​of mutual aid and solidarity, and to give them self-confidence.

Come on, let's shoot! Under the command of Claire Bouillet, instructor gabière, Ichem, Samuel, Jade and Margot work with the same enthusiasm on their ropes. Several meters above the deck, a sail slowly unfurls on its mast. The scene takes place about ten kilometers off the Mediterranean coast, between Marseille and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône), on the bridge of Belem . Claire is one of the sixteen crew members of this superb 19th century three-masted ship, the last one still in operation in France. And the sailors under his command are young people from Montpellier, Alès and Sète, most of them looking for work, followed by second chance schools or local integration missions, and invited by the Caisse d'Épargne, patron of the ship, who finances the operation. These thirty young people, all volunteers, and their companions, embarked in Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes) the day before for twenty-five hours of navigation. Heading for Sète (Hérault)!

All these young interns have very diverse backgrounds, but one thing in common: they are still looking for themselves. Jade, 23, with a CAP in aesthetics in her pocket, would like to change path. Margot, 22, who abandoned her law studies in the Paris region, hesitates between literary studies and joining the French Navy. Ichem, 21, who worked in catering and security, is saving to “buy a van and travel around the world”. Everyone's eyes shine: “My family could never offer me this trip,” marvels Samuel, 23 years old.

Educational tool

On board, the young trainees comply without batting an eyelid with the constraints of life on a 51 meter long ship, where sixty-four people must live together. To sleep, please squeeze into a narrow sailor's berth, the bunk. “Remember your number,” recommends second captain Thomas Perrin. “It corresponds to the raft that you will have to use in the event of abandonment of the ship! » Meals are taken at a fixed time. Three trainees got up at 6:30 a.m. to prepare the 7:30 a.m. breakfast. All then participated, with pleasure, in the safety exercises, then in the numerous maneuvers to deploy one by one the twenty-two sails of the Belem.

” THE Belem is a hyper-adapted educational tool for discovering life in a community,” assures its captain, Mathieu Combot. “The 300 young people in integration that we have welcomed on board since the start of 2023 are like any other intern: they are part of the crew. » They are even essential: the sixteen professional sailors of the Belem alone, could not maneuver this giant under sail.

Stays last between one to three days. Enough, according to the commander, to transmit to them values ​​of “mutual aid and solidarity”. They also learn “to be attentive to each situation, because safety at sea is essential”. Most of them have never sailed. “We take them out of their comfort zone. Even slightly rebellious profiles can be framed very quickly. »

Olympic flame on port side

“I liked the team cohesion,” enthuses Alexis, 20, who wonders if he is not going to follow training to become a sailor rather than doing a BTS in IT. “They may not all go into sailing, but they discover that there are many jobs on a boat,” smiles Soumaila Koly, facilitator at the École de la 2e chance (E2C) in Montpellier ( Hérault). Béatrice Brisé, from the local youth integration mission in the Thau basin, emphasizes that they will be able to “use this experience when they look for a job”.

“This experience allowed us to understand that together, we are capable of doing things that we never imagined,” testify trainees from the E2C of Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), after their trip on the Belem in spring 2023. “The key to everything is self-confidence,” confirms Natalie Lapertot, director of the E2C in Orléans (Loiret). “We support young people in situations of failure who need to regain self-confidence. » The experience helped one of the young trainees, Lucas, who is passionate about the sea, to fight against his shyness. He was selected to be one of the fourteen scouts who will soon escort the Olympic flame to France, from Greece, aboard the Belem .

Recipes for success

  • A professional crew. A young and mixed crew of civilian sailors trained in commercial navigation leads the Belem . In addition to their skills as sailors, they were recruited for their hospitality and teaching qualities.
  • The teamwork. The professional crew alone would not be enough to maneuver the Belem sailing. The help of trainees is therefore essential to the smooth running of the ship. As long as you all pull together, as a team, on the ropes!
  • Sponsorship. The Caisse d'Épargne Cepac, via the Belem Caisse d'Épargne Foundation, rehabilitated the three-masted ship.

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