Welcome to the shelter... in comics!

environment / rights of minorities

ALYNEA shelters

The Lyon-based ALYNEA association supports people in vulnerable situations, helping them to become more independent and regain their place in society. Its multidisciplinary approach (accommodation, training, professional integration, medical and psychological support, culture and leisure activities, etc.) enables us to offer each person understanding, personalized support tailored to their situation. Alynéa's commitment represents 6,900 people supported per year, or an average of 640 people accommodated every evening. Within its structures, we have to welcome new arrivals on a daily basis.

At the end of the year, the Auvent shelter called on The Ink Link to produce a welcome guide. The center provides temporary accommodation and advice to women and their children in difficult situations. Mothers very often arrive lost and at particular moments in their lives when they no longer know who to turn to or whom to trust. The stays are fairly short, so it's difficult for the older women to pass on their knowledge. A comic strip on the role of the home, its missions and its codes was therefore essential.

Two designers meet the guests

At The Ink Link, we'd just had a chat with a new recruit: Ludivine Stock. A cartoonist and graphic designer, who was keen to work with us, particularly in projects involving women. In Lyon, Aurélie Neyret was one of the first female artists to join us. After her mission and experience in Afghanistan, it was only natural that she should offer to support Ludivine in this project.

In order to produce an effective and useful welcome guide, The Ink Link always favors exchanges with beneficiaries. It was therefore decided to organize meetings between our two designers and the women welcomed at the center. During these exchanges, Ludivine Stock and Aurélie Neyret sketched the volunteers and collected their stories.

Based on personal accounts

This methodology has proved its worth: the exchanges were rich and enabled us to better understand both the situations experienced before arriving at the center and their consequences in living together in the home. Based on their testimonies, we put together a guide that answered their real questions and concerns.

The women come from many different countries and cultures. A comic strip in a classic Franco-Belgian format, in our European eyes, seemed complicated to appropriate. So the authors came up with a totally new tool, less standardized than an institutionalized brochure.

In the shape of a flower, the printed object opens in petals, offering reassuring, rhythmic reading. On the front, readers discover women from a variety of backgrounds. The combination of drawn portraits and text enables the women to recognize themselves in these (anonymized) testimonials. They are thus welcomed by the experience of their predecessors. The backs, meanwhile, reveal the women's experiences of life in the hostel.

A comic book to pass on

Thanks to the comic strip, the situations that the new arrivals will encounter during their stay are dealt with concretely: apprehensions at first, then free speech, life in the community, recreating intimacy with their children, administrative, educational and psychological support, and finally preparation for leaving with access to housing.

Folded up, the object is the size of an open hand: it will be easy to pass around the Auvent home and other centers in the network.

Finally, to reinforce this notion of transmission, the home wanted to keep a human and graphic imprint of the women who stayed there. The (still anonymous) portraits taken during the interviews will therefore be framed and displayed in the foyer.

So let's all extend a warm welcome to the new arrivals, and congratulations to the Alynea association for this wonderful initiative!