Wake up café: the association for a sustainable reintegration without recidivism

12 April 2023

During a visit to the Montreuil site, the foundation was able to interview Laurence Janin, head of fundraising, as well as Benoît de Williencourt, head of the Montreuil site.



Can you introduce to us the Wake Up Café association?

Founded in 2014 by Clotilde Gilbert, Wake Up Café is an association dedicated to supporting individuals who have experienced incarceration towards a sustainable reintegration without recidivism, with a focus on tailored personal and socio-professional support. Having been a prison chaplain in a detention center, Clotilde Gilbert noticed that the individuals she met in detention often returned to prison after their release. To break this cycle, she decided to raise awareness among company managers about hiring former prisoners, considering employment and support on personal aspects (health, family, housing, …) as key factors of reintegration. It has also set up collective sessions of theater, philosophy, and sports workshops to reinforce the feeling of belonging to a community of mutual aid to promote a successful and lasting reintegration.

How many people have you been able to accompany since 2014?

Wake up Café has accompanied over 1,400 wakeurs (the name given to the them) since 2014. In 2022, we accompanied 44 women.

Can you describe a typical week for the beneficiaries participating in your program?

The mornings are dedicated to employment, with group workshops on various topics such as how to know how to behave in a company or how to succeed in a new job. The mornings also include individual coaching on job search, resume writing and cover letter creation.

Lunch is a key and precious moment at Wake up Café, allowing for informal exchanges between wakeurs, members of the association and sometimes former wakeurs.

The afternoons are dedicated to group workshops focused on personal reconstruction and openness to the world, helping participants to regain their self-confidence and bring out their talents.

For more specificity, every first Wednesday of the month, we organize a dinner with wakeurs in the program and former wakeurs. We rely heavily on this supportive community and the ability of former wakeurs to share and talk about their experiences.

On the third Wednesday of the month, we offer the Wake up Planet, an event where former wakers come back to discuss a specific topic under the supervision of a coach. For example, the last edition of the Wake up Planet was on the theme of “male-female relationships”.

 What future challenges await Wake Up Café?

Our future challenges are varied: we will continue our mission to support individuals after their detention, while expanding our action by offering support directly in prison. We will intervene with workshops and pathways based on different programs that Wake Up Café has designed and will continue to develop.

For which project did the RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation support you?

The foundation supports us in the accompaniment of the women on different Wake up Café sites. In France, women represent about 4% of the prison population. At Wake up Café, we accompany between 8% and 10% of women out of our total workforce. In 2022, thanks to the support of the foundation, we accompanied 44 women, mainly in Montreuil and Marseille. As a result of this support, approximately 60% of these women were able to access a job or training.

What are the challenges that women prisoners may face?

With a limited number of women’s prisons, women in prison often find themselves far from their families, loved ones and social networks. This leads to a particularly important and difficult to manage isolation, which complicates their subsequent reintegration. The work of Wake up Café is based on collaboration with the prison administration and access to the institutions, in order to be able to contact the women inmates and present the actions of the association.



WAKE UP CAFE | Accompagner la réinsertion des personnes détenues ...

Created in 2014, the Wake up Café association accompanies motivated prisoners to be supported towards a sustainable reintegration without recidivism. It offers full-time courses aiming at a complete rehabilitation of the person, a customized individual inside-out accompaniment and a mutual aid community, a pillar to fight against recidivism and isolation.

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