Civic service is a voluntary and civic commitment of young people from 16 to 25 years old – to 30 for people with disabilities. Implemented in March 2010, this policy is aimed at promoting social diversity, integration, and citizenship among youth and give them a second to become an active citzen. It is open to French and EU citizens, as well as non-EU citizens who can show evidence that they have been staying in France for more than a year.
The purpose of civic service is to serve the public interest through commitment on projects that cover various areas: culture and leisure activities, international development and humanitarian actions, education for all, environment, remembrance and citizenship, health, solidarity, and sport. The projects can take place in France or abroad and last from 6 to 12 months. For projects taking place abroad, however, the costs of transport and accommodation are not covered. The participants are required to work 24h a week and they receive a monthly indemnity from the government (minimum € 472.97) and the host organisation (minimum € 107.58).
There are no specific qualification requirements for young people wishing to take part in a civic service project. What matters is the will to contribute to the collective interest, to experience social mixing and acquire new personal and professional skills, as well as to promote republican values and solidarity. Host organisations can be associations, NGOs, national or local public institutions, etc. During their project, volunteers are fully covered by the welfare system and receive social benefits.
Civic service is neither a job, nor an internship. It is based purely on volunteerism and can be seen as a stepping stone in the life of the participants, enabling them to broaden their perspectives and discover various aspects of the society. However, civic service can be combined with paid jobs or studies, as long as the participants have enough time to work on their projects (24h/week).
Host organisations have to name a tutor for the follow-up of each volunteer during and after the project. Tutors help volunteers to get ready for and carrying out their tasks, adjust assignments to each volunteer, support them in everyday life on the project and guide them through their thinking process about their future (for example, tutors can help volunteers complete a skills portfolio to highlight the skills they acquired during the project). The host organization also provides civic and citizenship training (theoretical part on notions such as citizenship and practical first-aid training) to the participants.