Charlotte Heldenstein - A helping hand for innovative projects

Thursday 28 January 2021

Charlotte Heldenstein is in charge of the "Travail & Innovation" service of Caritas Luxembourg. Created at the end of 2019, the service is in line with the vision of Caritas Luxembourg to strengthen inclusion by providing innovative solutions that have a relevant impact on the lives of disadvantaged and excluded people and that bring real added value over time.

What is your mission?

My mission is twofold. The first is to identify, develop, launch and, where possible, link work initiatives. The aim is to support as much as possible the creation of new opportunities for access to employment for the people we support who find it more difficult than others to find a job on the labour market. Several initiatives already exist within Caritas Luxembourg: employment activation measures, support for beneficiaries of international protection (BPI) in their job search and in their wish to improve their employability, training offers etc. The role of the service is not only to support the teams, if necessary, in the set-up of their project, but also to create spaces for professional exchange internally and externally. Finally, another mission is, of course, to work with our service "Veille socio-politique" to advocate with the authorities so that the vulnerable people we support can also have a fair chance on the job market.

The "innovation" component is very similar to the first one. It consists of supporting all the ideas for innovative projects that the various Caritas services may have - and there are many of them - and of ensuring that these projects can become a reality. Indeed, our field workers often have very good ideas to improve the lives of the people they accompany on a daily basis, but often don't have the time or sometimes don't know how to set up, structure and tie up their project so that it is feasible in the field and interesting for potential partners or financers, or even for other structures, other publics, etc. This is where the "Travail & Innovation" service comes in.

Why is this mission important?

Within Caritas Luxembourg, among our collaborators, but also among our beneficiaries, there are many ideas that allow us to improve the life of the people we accompany. These ideas often only need a helping hand, a facilitator, to become a reality.

I am also deeply convinced that it is important for a social actor such as Caritas Luxembourg to innovate in its social work, to try new ways of responding to the new needs of society in a participatory way, including from the very beginning the people in the field, the beneficiaries themselves and other stakeholders. This participatory aspect can only improve the quality and adherence to projects that respond to the real needs expressed in the field.

What do you like most about what you do?

It is of course this collaborative aspect that leads me to be in contact with a lot of people, but also to deal with a multitude of subjects and through partnerships that are very different from one another, but all very rich. All this makes my work very varied and never boring. 

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