Pampering results: ‘I feel like I can take on the world’

‘It is a great feeling to be looked after.’ At ATD Fourth World, we propose pampering sessions during our well-being days for adults and families experiencing poverty. In fact, founder of ATD Fourth World Joseph Wresinski defended the importance of care treatments for people experiencing poverty.

At ATD Fourth World, the work to end poverty ranges from participatory research and training to projects offering family support and well-being activities. While the experience of poverty often leaves no time to rest and take time for oneself,  physical health and self-love affect well-being.

That is why, in the 1960s, a beautician joined ATD’s Family Support team in Noisy-le-Grand (France), to offer treatments to people living in this emergency housing camp. Joseph Wresinski was convinced that self-care and beauty are necessary components to the work against poverty. He said: ‘Only comprehensive and multidimensional action can provide reliable solutions to poverty. […] Recovering confidence, dignity, esteem and pride can regenerate a community and open it up to the world, helping people to rebuild themselves on new foundations.

‘Given that a beautician’s role is nurturing human beauty and thereby reinforcing all that beauty can awaken in a person’s heart and mind, aesthetics and the beautician will reach their true potential only in those places where everything conspires to destroy beauty.’

— Joseph Wresinski in 1965, at the National Congress of Applied Aesthetics in Paris.

Beauty salon in Noisy-le-Grand between 1960 and 1965. © ATD Quart Monde

Pampering for well-being

At ATD Fourth World in London, well-being days offer a moment of respite from the daily pressures of life in poverty. They make space for creative expression, connection with peers, and moments of peace.

One team member now regularly proposes massage and pampering during these days organised for families and adults experiencing poverty. In fact, her therapeutic practices reference the thinking and work of Joseph Wresinski, rooted in radical love and support.

‘After I have been pampered I feel like I can take on the world.’

— Patricia, an ATD Fourth World activist with lived experience of poverty.

Rather shy the first few times, participants now all want to experience this team member’s magic, so the makeshift pampering salon runs all day. Be it ‘to feel relaxed after all I have been through this year’ or ‘to try something I don’t usually do’, all are welcome in the chair.

A person's hand are being massaged.
A pampering session can include hand and face massages, masks and cream, nail care…

The reactions are unanimously positive: ‘It felt very good and it made a difference’.

Lareine, a lived experience activist, says:

‘I felt at ease, I felt peaceful, I felt relaxed. It is important for us to be looked after too — it is a great feeling, to be looked after.’

Activities like this one are part of our Together in Dignity Programme, aiming at promoting social inclusion, strengthening peer support networks, and increasing well-being for the most vulnerable. Find ways to support us at: