The French Civic Service celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year while passing the milestone of half a million beneficiaries. And while the charity Unis-Cité broadly contributed to its creation and deployment, it does not intend to stop there because it is carrying out multiple experiments to go further in unleashing the potential of the young people supported.
This is the case of Booster Pro, a programme launched on 10 March by the Unis-Cité Auvergne Rhône-Alpes branch for ten young people who are motivated to go further with their civic service.
This was the choice of Morgane, who at nearly 18 years old admits that she felt a bit lost in her career plans. The idea of taking part in civic service appealed to her and she was preparing to volunteer for a public interest project four days a week, from Tuesday to Friday.
The Roanne Unis-Cité branch then mentioned the existence of a new programme that is starting: Booster Pro. In addition to her four days volunteering, would she be prepared to spend her Monday receiving additional support that would help her prepare better for the future? She was told that the programme was designed to enable her to get to know herself better and choose a career. She didn’t hesitate long before accepting.
In her group, she met Sandra, who was just 18. For Sandra, choosing a career was not the issue, but she was aiming for a job that required a driving licence. The advantages of Booster Pro include funding for the theory test and the guarantee of leaving the programme with this precious door opener.
But there were multiple advantages for the young woman: through the support provided, she found out that the role she was aiming for did not necessarily require a traditional school course, that she could get there with AFPA (French national agency for adult vocational training) and that the training fees would be covered by the Pôle-Emploi (job centre) if she joined the Booster Pro programme. She hesitated even less than Morgane before accepting.
Strengthening the integration effect
‘Experimenting is really part of Unis-Cité’s DNA: from the local branches which build a project jointly with a small charity because it meets a need in the region, to large national efforts which are new forms of undertaking’, says Raphaëlle Blache, Unis-Cité Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Partnerships and Development Manager.
All the experiments are based on needs identified by Unis-Cité teams, and Roanne’s (50 minutes by car from Saint-Etienne) is no exception.
Raphaëlle tells us:
“The local employees observed that in this region, young people come forward who have difficulties looking to the future. They’ve often dropped out of education. They also often have transport difficulties because it’s hard to get around when you don’t have a driving licence.”
The local Unis-Cité team ask themselves what they can do for these young people. How, beyond the public interest volunteering they already offer, could they strengthen the integration effect of civic service?
Their response is Booster Pro... or at least, it’s part of the response because they fully acknowledge the experimental aspect of this project.
We consider ourselves to be an innovation lab, with the aim of developing and enhancing the experience of civic service.
Raphaëlle Blache, Unis-Cité Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Partnerships and Development Manager
It was also this experimental aspect that convinced the Societe Generale Foundation to become a partner, with a desire to offer its support to this social innovation.
Other ‘Booster Pro’ projects are currently taking place in Lille and Marseille but based on completely different models. The teams will then consult each other to compare notes and see how to deploy the programme more broadly by adapting it to other regions.
The strength of the experiment conducted in Roanne lies in its strongly partner-based approach. Unis-Cité has involved many stakeholders to enhance its beneficiaries’ experience of civic service.
Beyond the AFPA training funded by the Pôle-Emploi or the driving theory test made possible by a local charity, the programme will also enable the discovery of companies and vocations through the Loire and Haute-Loire CREPI (regional club of integration partner companies) which organises meetings with directors to open up professional prospects.
For Raphaëlle, these efforts fulfil Unis-Cité’s historic objective with civic service: to offer a citizen experience of learning about commitment, and self-discovery as well as a springboard to the future.