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Hong-Kong’s Lunch Clubs are drop-in centres for the city’s lowest-paid workers, serving affordable, balanced meals and offering professional support from social workers, together with access to training as a pathway to more fulfilling and better-paid work.
In Hong-Kong, one person in seven lives below the poverty line. Many fail to claim state benefits to which they are entitled, for fear of stigmatisation. To help tackle the problem, the city’s French Chamber Foundation has created a network of Lunch Clubs. Just a few months after the launch of the first Club in Wan Chai, one of Hong Kong’s most densely-populated areas, two further centres were opened in Tsuen Wan and Mong Kok. Each welcomes up to fifty low-paid workers responsible for three-person households: many Club members work part-time, and most are women.
Each restaurant serves healthy meals to workers who too often neglect their own nutrition, for economic reasons. Members pay a small amount – the equivalent of just 80 euro cents, but enough to counter their reluctance to receive free meals. In exchange, they receive a balanced lunch and individual help to overcome their social isolation and improve their working lives. Lunch Club members share their experiences with one another, as well as with social workers, career advisers and training professionals.
Members can also receive individual coaching, information sessions on work opportunities and the labour market, computer skills training, and classes in English or Mandarin. This targeted help – in which Hermès Hong Kong staff play an active role – helps members to achieve greater self-esteem, to strengthen their skills and target enhanced job prospects. The Lunch Club project is currently planning to open a fourth venue. The scheme is supported by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès as part of the second edition of our H³ programme (Heart – Head – Hand).