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Statement of intent

Keep the memory

The place is condemned by the upcoming extension of the railway station (by 2024); and two of the three pros who have been in charge for 30 years are going to retire. Before a new team, trained in new social work methods, takes up in the new building planned elsewhere downtown, memory must be kept of this ending story. The future trainers of social workers and nursing staff concerned by mental precariousness might be interested !

Portraits of fragile people

More generally, I intend to show and value a number of life paths and resilience strategies at the margins of our society. In the Atelier Galiffe, one doesn’t seek excellence, productivity nor healing; the prevailing culture of the place is linking humans with one another as well as with nature, appreciating difference and giving benevolent attention to the others.

A disappearing professional posture ?

I will seek to capture the three facilitators’ professional ethics not only in words but in action, as they each of them have their own specificities and preferences, as well as the workshop users point of view. I will also meet other professionals in public mental health to understand how the Atelier Galiffe articulates with institutional psychiatry. What are the chances of this unconditional welcoming posture based on relationships, manual work and creative expression in the face of chemistry and robotics? In the background of the answer lies our ultimate choice of society: can we find a middle term between the neo-liberal economy, high technology and robotization on one hand, and a worn out humanism and a democracy in the process of obsolescence ?

The link to the place

The place is a 1950s barrack set in a garden teeming with greenery, surrounding a small tree-lined square with a fountain. The Atelier Galiffe is an island of biodiversity in the heart of the city, a recycled materials of all kinds AliBaba’s cave. Inspite of – or thanks to – its very dilapidated condition and location in the city center, it offers a warm and welcoming environment that is easily accessible. To what extent do the garden and the large trees in the square contribute to the well-being of this weakened urban population? Can the link be described between the place and the people’s well-being?

Historical context

The deterioration of the economic situation increases psychological suffering, not only in Geneva but everywhere in our twenty-first century Western societies. The number of welfare recipients is skyrocketing, coupled with the growing burnout of mental health workers. However, the psychiatric hospital is no longer a place to dwell: care stays are short and the focus is put instead on chemistry to get people back on their feet as soon as possible and return them to their context. The creation of the Atelier Galiffe – within the Geneva and Romand Network for health assistance and the integration of people suffering from mental disorders – dates back from the 1980s. At that time, the anti-psychiatric movement was looking for an alternative to hospitalisation, which often was experienced as confinement. Fortunately, things have changed a lot since then, under the influence of various actors, both medical and associative.