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France

2. Voluntary Activities

2.4 Youth volunteering at national level

On this page
  1. National Programme for Youth Volunteering
  2. Funding
  3. Characteristics of youth volunteering
  4. Support to young volunteers
  5. Quality Assurance (QA)
  6. Target groups

 

National Programme for Youth Volunteering

 

As the State’s role is to financially support non-profit organisations in their actions and promote voluntary work, there is no public national bénévolat programme. Nevertheless, owing to their independence, non-profit organisations have the possibility of developing and implementing their own bénévolat schemes and programmes.

The situation is different for volunteering programmes and schemes, which are defined, developed and supervised by such public authorities as the ministry in charge of youth,  the ministry responsible for foreign affairs.

 

Civic Service

Definition of the civic service

One of the key commitment programmes set up by the State is Civic Service (Service Civique). This cross-ministerial and crosscutting system plays a pre-eminent role in youth policy. Established by Law 2010-2041 of 10 March 2010 bearing on civic service, enacted on 13 May 2010.

Civic Service is a programme designed to encourage civic commitment by young people aged 16 to 25, as well as by young people with disabilities aged 16 to 30without any qualification conditions. Missions typically last between 6 to 12 months with at least 24 hours per week, for "non-profit organisations or legal entities governed by public law" having received civic service approval to accomplish general interest missions of  educational, environmental, scientific, social, sporting, family or vivil security or prevention, Francophonie and French language promotion, etc".

The vommitment leads to payment of an allowance of €473 net per month paid by the State, and additional support in cash or kind paid for by the host organisation (€107,68). It entitles the volunteer to social protection funded by the State. The commitment is compatible with continuation of education or a part-time job.

Civic service missions are characterised by their great diversity in terms of location and activities on offer. Missions include (examples) :

  • the organisation of the Conference On Youth (COY11) connected with the 2015 COP21 held in Paris,
  • the facilitation of language support workshops in voluntary organisations,
  • the support to elderly people losing their autonomy in hospital, 
  • the support for access to and development and promotion of women’s sports.

The objective of civic service is to reinforce national cohesion by encouraging youth commitment to general interest service. It provides a new form of commitment whereby young people can increase their self-confidence, professional skills and experience citizenship. Civic service is promoted by the Government, in particular because it is considered as an instrument for cohesion and social diversity insofar as all young people, regardless of their background and education, can benefit from it.

The system fits in with the history of National Service and civic commitment. After suspension of military service on 28 October 1997 (Law no.97-1019 of 28 October 1997 bearing on reform of national service, which came into full effect in the 2000s, various volunteering schemes made their appearance with the objective of integrating young people into society, including the voluntary civil service created in 2006 by Law no.2006-396 of 31 March 2006 on equality of opportunities, which was open to all young people aged 16 to 25 who wanted to fulfil a general interest mission for a period of 6 to 12 months. Civil service has been replaced by Civic Service (Law no.2010-241 of 10 March 2010).

 

Governance

The authority that administers the commitment scheme is the Civic Service Agency (Agence du Service Civique ), which is under the supervision of the ministry in charge of youth, which is a GIP (an organisation that brings together public and private partners that pool resources to implement general interest missions). The Civic Service Agency is tasked with defining, managing and monitoring civic service. 

Since January 2016, the Agency for Civic Service is also:

  • The French national agency for the Erasmus+ programme in its youth section
  • The national point of contact for the Erasmus+ programme in its sports section
  • The French national agency for the European Solidarity Corps programme (since October 2018).  

The Civic Service Agency is chaired by a director and has a Board of Directors composed of representatives of the Ministry in charge of Youth, the France Volontaires non-profit organisation and qualified stakeholders from the field of volunteering.

It also has a Strategic Committee that includes representatives of host organisations, young volunteers and parliamentarians, whose role is to deal with all matters relating to development of Civic Service and provide the Board of Directors with guidance. Implementation of missions is based on partnership between public and non-profit stakeholders.

 

 

The development of the civic service

Since its creation in 2010, the civic service has been extremely popular with non-profit associations and young people.  Since its creation in 2010, more than 200,000 young people have been involved in the civic service.  The momentum of this increase has continued, leading to a target of having 145,000 young volunteers involved in a project in 2020 and eventually 150,000 volunteers per year. The youth plan announced in July 2020 increased this target to 100,000 volunteers for 2021.

 

 

Information and data on Civic Service

The Agency for Civic Service leads several studies and enquiries on its programme and, in particular, on its visibility in order to assess its development.

In 2018, for the third consecutive year, the IFOP institute carried out a study on behalf of the Agency for Civic Service in order to better understand the perceptions and expectations of the civic service, especially among young people between 16 and 25 years old, and human resources managers:

  • “In 2017, 13% of young people between 16 and 25 years old were involved in some form of civic service and 93% had heard of this system, mirroring the 2016 numbers”.
  • “Civic service is viewed positively by 9 out of 10 young people, primarily as a means of gaining experience, and then for getting involved in community projects”.
  • “67% of young people who have never carried out civic service could do so”.
  • “Among the means of improving the system, recognition of civic service by companies appears to be a priority [...]”.

Source: https://www.ifop.com/publication/barometre-du-service-civique/

  

 

Universal National Service

Universal National Service is aimed at all young people. Over time, it will take the form of a mandatory month between 15/16 and 18 years old, consistent with the civic route, followed by a longer commitment to volunteer work between 18 and 25 years old. Its implementation began with a pilot project that started in June 2019 and involved approximately 2,000 young people. The plan is to implement it gradually over the coming years.

The purpose of the Universal National Service is to:

  • “assert the values of the French Republic to strengthen social and national cohesion”
  • “lay the foundation for a culture of commitment”
  • “raise awareness of major social and societal issues”

 

 Universal National Service comprises in three stages. The first two will eventually become mandatory:

  • “a two-week residential project after fourth year of secondary school. Groups of volunteers stay in a region of the country away from where they normally live. The volunteers are housed in various residential centres and supported by tutors throughout their stay and during the sports and academic activities. They also help with the upkeep of the centre and learn about the Highway Code and first aid”.
  • “a general interest project of 12 days or 84 hours minimum. The general interest project can be carried out locally, where the adolescent lives. It is compulsory in the year following the residential project. It can be carried out in a non-profit association, uniformed service, public service, etc. Preparation for this is done during the residential project along with a tutor and the supervising staff who help the volunteer to define a specific project”
  • “if the volunteers choose to do so, they can then commit to volunteering over a period of three months to one year in the local area of their choice between the ages of 18 and 25. The projects could focus on areas such as defence and security, helping people and preserving cultural heritage or the environment”.

Since its inception in June 2019, approximately 2,000 young people have participated in the SNU forerunner. In 2020, the SNU has adapted its continued its roll-out to the public health situation.

Site https://www.snu.gouv.fr/

 

 

The civic reserves

The civic reserves were created by Law n°2017-86 “equality and citizenship” of 27 January 2017. It is a system offering general interest projects within non-profit associations and public bodies. It is organised according to specialised topics partly including those of the civic service: solidarity, health, education, culture and sport, the environment, history and citizenship, international development, emergency interventions.

It brings together existing citizen reserves (from defence, education and the police), as well as thematic areas yet to be defined. Since Decree n°2020-922 of 29 July 2020 on various systems of Universal National Service, a “universal national service” reserve has been created. It allows young people from 15 years old to carry out casual volunteer work as part of a general interest project. Due to the public health crisis, specific projects have been created as part of the civic reserve to meet the needs created by the crisis.

 

Site: Civic reserve

 

Volunteering of young firefighters

In addition to Civic Service volunteering, young people also have the opportunity to be volunteer Jeunes sapeurs-pompiers (JSPs-Young firefighters). The volunteering status of firefighters is defined by the Law no. 96-370 of 3 May 1996 and Law no. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002, included in the Code Général des Collectivités Territoriales (General Local Authorities Code).

The scheme is designed for young people aged 11 to 18 who want to discover the profession of firefighter. They must have a medical certificate proving their fitness delivered by a fire service doctor, parental permission if they are minors, and a valid tetanus vaccination certificate. They receive training alongside their schooling, on rescue, firefighting and protection of property and the environment, as well as sports training. (Decree no.2002-1480 of 20 December 2002 amending Decree no.2000-825 of 28 August 2000 bearing on training of young firefighters and organisation of the national fire service cadet diploma).  From the age of 16 onwards, JSPs have the opportunity to sit for the national young firefighters diploma, which is an asset for anyone interested in becoming a voluntary or professional firefighter. In January 2016, there were 27,800 young firefighters (JSPs) (girls and boys together).

The Ministry of the Interior manages the scheme in partnership with the ministry responsible for youth and non-profit partners: the Unions Départementales et Régionales de Sapeurs-pompiers (Départemental and Regional firefighter organisations)

 

Stand-alone law

Bénévolat and volunteering are not subject to the same legal framework.

Bénévolat

There is no specific legal framework for bénévolat, which, legally speaking, is a free commitment, implying that the bénévole does not benefit from social protection or have obligatory working hours. However, when volunteering is exercised within a voluntary organisation, bénévoles act in the context of a specific organisation which has its own rules, determined by the statutes and possible internal rules established by its governing body. Bénévoles must respect the organisation’s purpose and operating rules.

If volunteers are members of an organisation, the legal rules for non-profit organisations set by the Law of 1 July 1901 also apply to them: freedom of membership and participation in the operation, but also obligations which can be sanctioned (compliance with statutes, payment of membership fees, etc.).

 Some organisations, such as France Bénévolat, advocate the signing of a "Convention de Bénévolat"  between the bénévole and the organisation. This is not a contract but a moral commitment, a document that sets out the bénévole’s rights and obligations (e.g. the right to be received and regarded as a colleague in his/her own right, to consider each bénévole as indispensable, the obligation to adhere to "the purpose and ethics of the organisation and meet its objectives").

The France Bénévolat organisation has developed two standard documents that can be used as the basis for clarifying the rules governing relations between bénévoles and organisations, and so enable development of best practices: the Charter of Bénévolat in the Association ( the Charte du Bénévolat dans l’Association )

 

Concerning young people, the law of 27 January 2017 on equality and citizenship clarifies and expands the conditions under which a minor can volunteer in NGos :

  • Before the age of 18, young people can freely join an association and invest in it on a voluntary basis;
  •  Before the age of 16, a minor may create or manage an association if he has a prior written authorization from his parents;
  • Between the ages of 16 and 18, a minor may create or a manage an association without prior authorization from his parents. However, its legal representatives must be informed by letter of this commitment by one of the members of the association.
  • Young people under 18 have the opportunity to create a "junior association". This association does not have an administrative existence, but the national network known as "Juniors associations" provides support to young people who want to set up projects from the age of 12. It guarantees and facilitates the obtaining of an insurance and the opening of a bank account. 1000 "junior associations" are spread throughout France.

 

Volunteering

Volunteering is governed by a number legal frameworks, depending on type of volunteering.

Civic Service

Civic Service was created by Law no.2010-241 of 10 March 2010 bearing on civic service, which is included in the Code du Service National (National Service Code).  

Pursuant to Articles L120-7, 9 and 15 of the National Service Code, civic service contracts exclude any subordination between host organisations and volunteers. However, volunteers are subject to the rules of the approved structure in which they perform their civic service. Volunteers must not replace employees, trainees or bénévoles, but be complementary to them. The National Service Code specifically states that tasks entrusted to volunteers shall not be performed by an employee of the structure within a year prior to the signing of the civic service contract.

In addition, the civic service contract must be concluded for a period of at least 24 hours per week, without exceeding 48 hours spread over a maximum of 6 days (Article L 120-8 of the National Service Code). For volunteers aged 16 to 18, contract duration cannot exceed 35 hours spread over a maximum of 5 days. Volunteers are entitled to 2 days’ leave per month of service completed, 3 days a month for minors. Leave not taken does not entitle them to monetary compensation (Articles R.121-17 to 21 of the National Service Code).

Regarding social security, volunteers’ social cover is fully supported by the State. The entire civic service period allows pension entitlements.

Hosting organisations also have duties with respect to civic service volunteers:

  • they are obliged to appoint a mentor for the volunteer and organise a preparation phase for the mission,
  • they must assist volunteers in definition of future projects to promote their employability at the end of their missions.
  • They should also ensure that civic and citizenship training includes mandatory first aid training.

 

International solidarity volunteering

International Solidarity Volunteering is governed by Law no.2005-159 of 23 February 2005 bearing on international solidarity volunteering, which stipulates that the volunteer does not have the status of employee of the organisation since there is no work contract. However, they do enjoy a certain number of rights recognised by the same Law.

 They are entitled to:

  • At least two days' leave per month;
  • Social welfare. Under Article 5 of the Law of 23 February 2005, the association affiliates the volunteer to a social security system guaranteeing rights to a level identical to that of the general French social security system : the  CFE – Fund for French Citizens Abroad system (Caisse des Français de l'Etranger). The social security scheme provides insurance cover for sickness, maternity, disability, death, old age, accidents at work and occupational diseases.
  • An allowance to enable them to accomplish their mission in decent living conditions. This allowance is not a salary, nor is it subject to income tax or social contributions. The amount and conditions under which it is payable are set for each volunteer in their contract. It cannot be less than €100 per month (excluding housing and food).

It should be noted that international solidarity volunteering is now one of the forms that civic service may take. In this case, as provided for in Article 1 of the Law of 23 February 2005, the international solidarity volunteering contract "is a civic service performed abroad and governed by the rules of this Law".

 

 

International business and administrative volunteering

International Business Volunteering (IBV) and International Administrative Volunteering (IAV) are two International Volunteering schemes that, under certain conditions, enable young people to carry out scientific, technical or commercial missions at a French business abroad (IBV) or a French Government department located abroad (IAV). These schemes are regulated by several legislative texts including the Law of 14 March 2000 bearing on civil volunteering instituted by Article L.111 - 2 of the National Service Code and the Decree in Council of State no.2000-1159 of 30 November 2000.

IBV and IAV volunteers benefit from social protection (Decree no.2000-1160 of 30 November 2000 setting the conditions under which the State contributes to the social protection of civilian volunteers assigned through voluntary organisations) and annual leave (Decree no. 2000-1161 30 November 2000 laying down the rules for volunteers' annual leave).

 

 

Other official documents containing guidelines on youth volunteering

 

The question of volunteering is not only limited to the domain of voluntary associations and youth. Other areas of public action participate in its definition and development. The following documents also relate to volunteering 

The Minister of National Education

The Minister of National Education’s Memorandum no.2015-077 of 12 May 2015 which contributes to development of bénévole commitment through creation of a "Réserve citoyenne" (Civic Reserve) in each education authority. Intended for schools, the text was sent to all public stakeholders in national education and higher education and stipulates the objectives of this pool of volunteers, who work alongside teachers and educational teams to transmit the Republican values of freedom, equality and secularism.

The Memorandum states that the Reserve is “complementary to voluntary work or civic service and is a means of reliably satisfying the many demands of citizens, men and women alike, members or not of non-profit organisations, wishing to share their professional and personal experiences and make a contribution to education for the transmission of the Republic’s values”. It is open to all adults, young people including students.

 

The Labour Code

The Labour Code, which includes major legislative and regulatory texts clarifying the situation of jobseekers who work as bénévoles in Article L. 5425-8 of the Labour. The Article states that "any job seeker may perform bénévole activity. Such activity cannot be carried out with a previous employer or replace paid employment, and must remain compatible with the obligation to find a job”.

 

General Tax Code (Code Général des Impôts)

The General Tax Code (Code Général des Impôts ), which brings together all the provisions relating to tax law, states that volunteers can benefit from tax reductions under certain conditions: “Article 41 of Law no.2000-627 of 6 July 2000 amending Law no.84-610 of 16 July 1984 bearing on organisation and promotion of physical and sporting activities complements (1) of Article 200 of the General Tax Code by enabling bénévoles, under certain conditions, to benefit from tax reductions relating to donations, for expenses incurred by them personally in the context of their volunteer work activity". The costs incurred by bénévoles using their own vehicles, for example, may therefore, when not refunded by the organisation, be considered as donations and as such benefit from tax reductions.

The conditions enabling bénévoles to benefit from tax reduction for costs incurred by them were specified in the Instruction Fiscale (Tax Directive) of 23 February 2001, published in the Official Tax Bulletin under reference 5 B-11-01.

 

Funding

 

National funding

The various financial efforts made by the State in implementing crosscutting (cross-ministerial) youth policy are the subject of a document appended to the annual draft Finance Law, with planned public expenditure and amounts of budgets allocated to the various action programmes. This is the Crosscutting Policy Document  provided for by Article 128 of amended Finance Law no.2005-1720 of 30 December 2005.

Youth commitment programmes (volunteering and bénévolat) are funded by the “163 youth and voluntary organisations program”. This includes a percentage of funding allocated to youth policies and development of voluntary organisations.

For the year 2020, the program 163 finances up to 663 million the following actions:

 • "the development of civic service,";

• “the foreshadowing of the Universal National Service (SNU)”;

 • "action in favor of youth education and popular education( non-formal education)"

• "The development of voluntary organisations (non-profit sector)"

 

Actions in favor of volunteering to which funds are allocated:

1) Funds  allocated to "Development of voluntary organisations"

It finances five schemes to promote and develop non-profit organisations including bénévolat :

  1. the FDVA – Non-profit Organisation Development Fund.
  2. CRIBs - Bénévole Resource and Information Centres.
  3. support to national and regional federations (of organisations).
  4. the support to non-profit organisation départemental delegates 
  5. national support to accredited Youth and Non-Formal Education non-profit organisations.

 

2) Funds allocated to  "action in favor of youth education and popular education (non-formal education)"

It finances schemes, including international youth exchanges. The Ministry for Youth promotes international volunteering, intercultural exchanges and mobility of young people, mainly through the OFAJ– Franco-German Youth Office and the OFQJ – Franco –Quebecois Youth Office.

 

3) funds allocated for "developing Civic Service"

The budget amounts €508 million.

Source:  Draft finance law. Policies in favor of youth 2020.

 

European funding

France receives European funding under the European "Erasmus +" Programme 2014-2020 "Youth and Sport", managed by the Erasmus + France Jeunesse & Sport Agency. The youth component of Erasmus+ is dedicated to development of non-formal education activities including volunteering.

In 2020, the total amount allocated foreseen  to the  Erasmus + France Jeunesse et Sport Agency by the European Commission to support its 3"key actions" is:  €14.3 million

It funds the "Mobility projects for young people and youth workers" action (key action 1): €8.4 million

  • youth exchanges: €5.8 million
  • the mobility of youth workers: €2.5 million

 

The European Solidarity Corps programme

The European Solidarity Corps (ESC), which is also managed by the Erasmus + Jeunesse et Sports agency, is a volunteering mechanism. These European loans amount to more than €13 million for France (2020). They fund three aspects:

  • Individual and community, national and European voluntary work
  • Internships
  • Employment

 

Characteristics of youth volunteering

 

The National institute for youth and popular education (INJEP), which is attached to the Ministry for youth, compiles and analyses statistical data on community and volunteer work among young people. This data, drawn from different ministerial statistical departments (SSM), makes it possible to create a report on the level of involvement (community and volunteer) among young French people, to identify the (social, etc.) characteristics of young volunteers and the interest raised by community and volunteer work.

The Baromètre DJEPVA sur la Jeunesse 2019 report, which is carried out every year by INJEP for the DJEPVA in collaboration with CREDOC, is based on an annual survey of 4,500 young French people, between 18 and 30 years old, who are selected based on quotas (regions, size of urban area, age, sex, socio-professional category). This survey has highlighted in particular the characteristics of community and volunteer involvement by young people in France:

 

  • “Volunteer commitment, with a little more than a third of young people involved (37%), remained the second most common form of involvement by young French people in 2019, which was a slight increase since 2016”.
  • “Several works establish that the rate of membership in an association has evolved (in what sense?) among young people to involve between 3 and 4 out of 10 young people over the last 40 years”.
  •  “In 2019, 37% of young people stated that they spent their time volunteering compared to 35% in 2016. This includes young people who have given their time over a year, or several hours each week or each month, or at a specific event or period”.
  •  “More than a third of youth volunteers are involved in sports projects, making it the preferred area of involvement for young French people. This finding is consistent across numerous surveys in France”.
  • “Culture and leisure (21%) and youth and education (16%) are in second and third place respectively in the rankings of preferred fields for youth involvement
  • “Integration, employment (5%), cultural heritage (5%) and emergency response (5%) continue to be the areas in which young people are least likely to volunteer. In addition, some fields also decreased in popularity in 2019, such as the social and solidarity field (-3 points compared to 2017) and anti-discrimination (-2 points between 2018 and 2019)”.

“Those already involved in youth volunteering are motivated by two primary objectivesto feel useful to society or others (34%) and the desire to take concrete action (28%)”

  • “Although young people are not giving more their volunteer time to environmental causes, for several years there has been in increase among those who state that they are part of an environmental non-profit association”.

 

Source : Baromètre DJEPVA pour la jeunesse 2019, INJEP. Notes & rapports/rapport d’étude.

 

Civic service

The Agency for Civic Service compiles its own statistical information (sex, age, etc.) that is collected in particular through the contract agreed between the young people and the receiving structure approved by the Agency or as part of annual surveys. This makes it possible to identify certain demographic, social and regional characteristics of young people who take part in a programme, such as their average age or level of education (2019 data):

  • 24% of the young people have not yet graduated obtained their baccalaureate
  • Over the course of 2019, almost a third were involved in a project in the field of education for all, focusing specifically on combatting academic underachievement, or on extracurricular activities in schools or non-profit associations
  • Projects in the field of solidarity are also common, with more than a quarter of volunteers working with vulnerable or isolated groups and those living in poverty.
  • The fields of sport, culture and the environment represent a total of 30% of civic service projects.

 

In 2020, INJEP and the Agency for Civic Service published the results of a huge national statistical survey of former volunteers: The survey shows that: “although the civic service attracts all categories of young people, gaining initial professional experience and receiving an income are the primary motivations for volunteers: 53% stated that their motivation is to gain professional experience and 39% were motivated by income”.

 

Source: https://www.service-civique.gouv.fr/presse/portrait-des-jeunes-qui-choisissent-de-sengager-en-service-civique

 

 

 

 

Support to young volunteers

 

Removing obstacles (economic and social alike) that prevent some young people from carrying out bénévolat work, and above all volunteer work, is a public goal which aims to increase volunnteering of all young people, especially young people with fewer opportunities. When they exist, support measures for young people largely depend on type of commitment:

Bénévolat

There are very few schemes designed to materially or financially help young bénévoles, and none of them are mandatory. However, if volunteers are required to cover expenses themselves on behalf of the non-profit organisation, they may be reimbursed by the organisation responsible for defining the internal rules on reimbursement of expenses incurred by bénévoles (travel expenses).Non-profit organisations may reimburse expenses if they are:

  • actual: the task must have been accomplished (no fictional assignments);
  • supported by an invoice or miscellaneous receipts issued by retailers or service providers;
  • proportional to the activity.

Faced with this situation, volunteers have two options: either they ask the organisation to refund expenses incurred or they decide to waive reimbursement and donate it to the organisation. Also, if a non-profit organisation has adopted the decision at a general meeting, it may give its bénévole staff special payment vouchers or meal vouchers "to enable them to fully or partly cover the cost of restaurant meals" (Decree no.2006-1206 of 29 September 2006 sets the conditions for allocation of meal vouchers).

Bénévoles receive no social protection because they receive no financial compensation and do not contribute, unlike employees who benefit from the general social security scheme to which they are compulsorily affiliated. In the event of an accident occurring during their non-profit activity, the bénévole can claim "work accident" benefits unless the organisation has taken out “work accident" insurance that includes accident cover.

 

Civic Service

Civic Service commitment is eligible for full social protection funded directly by the State. Young volunteers can benefit from coverage of sickness. Furthermore, all completed Civic Service quarter-years are taken into account under pension insurance. The Civic Service does not provide entitlement to additional coverage for illness but, in order to facilitate access to voluntary supplementary health insurance, the Civic Service Agency has developed partnerships with two mutual benefit societies.

Volunteers receive a net minimum monthly allowance of €473.04 (1 January 2020). The host organisations should also give volunteers an allowance to cover their living expenses, amenities, accommodation and transport. The set minimum monthly allowance is €107.58. An additional, means-tested allowance of €107.68 per month may be awarded to young people in financial need (recipient of active solidarity income) or those who are recipients of a higher education grant.

If the volunteer is a jobseeker at the time of signing the contract and has acquired rights to compensation (aid to return to employment paid by Pôle Emploi , (the National Employment Agency) prior to the Civic Service, payment is suspended for the duration of the mission and resumes at the end of it. However, volunteers can stay registered at Pôle Emploi for the duration of their missions.

 

Other Volunteering schemes

As regards other voluntary schemes (VSI, EVS, VIA, etc.), social security cover and gratuities are included so there are no additional financial or material measures for young people experiencing financial difficulties.

 

 Local authority aid

 Some local authorities (local authorities are French administrative structures, separate from State administration whose representatives are elected and must uphold the interests of the local population) have set up their own aid or support schemes for young people who want to commit. They usually take the form of financial aid granted to young people in the context of an international mobility and solidarity project.

 

 

Quality Assurance (QA)

 

Bénévolat

In the case of bénévolat, there is no "quality assurance system" to assess a mission’s success. However, some organisations have developed their own bénévolat charter, which every member must commit to. The Petits Frères des Pauvres organisation, which combats poverty providing social support to people in precarious situations, has defined a "voluntary pact" whereby it sets the rules bénévoles must follow to "implement the support relationship" specific to their mission. Among other things, bénévoles agree to "comply with the charter, participate in the life of the organisation and uphold freely agreed commitments, work as a team, agree to train to better fulfil the responsibilities entrusted to them, and carefully observe the rules of confidentiality", while the organisation undertakes to "recruit and guide bénévoles according to their desires and skills, define roles and coordinate actions." Non-profit organisations have the freedom to set up quality assurance systems, but this is not mandatory.

 

Civic Service

The situation is different for volunteering, and more specifically for Civic Service, which has a mission monitoring and evaluation (including qualitative) system that is implemented during the young person's commitment as well as the end of the Civic Service.

The Civic Service Agency seeks to track and monitor proper conduct of missions. The aim is to check:

  • compliance of implementation of the Civic Service with current legislation (National Service Code, Law of 10 March 2010);
  • compliance with the approved organisation’s obligations;
  • absence of a gap between actions performed and content of the approval;
  • quality of programme implementation from the volunteers' point of view.

As regard the quality aspect, the aim is rather to assess:

  • the value and utility of the mission to which young people commit, in particular its impact on their life projects and even on their social and professional inclusion;
  • the value for organisations receiving volunteers and benefiting from reinforcement of their missions and general interest activities;
  • the value for French society, as a whole, which ultimately benefits from general interest missions.

 

Quality assessment of the mission

During a mission, the young people involved are accompanied by a mentor the only person mentioned by name in the Civic Service agreement. The mentor must accompany the young people involved and facilitate their inclusion in the reception structure. The presence of a mentor is a form of internal control, to the extent that he/she must ensure proper inclusion of young people in the structure and accompany them on their mission.

In addition, organisations accredited under Civic Service commitment must provide and annual account of their Civic Service activities, in compliance with Memorandum no. ASC/SG/2011/204 of 30 May 2011 bearing on the implementation of control under the provisions of Civic Service. Their reports are submitted to the Civic Service Agency and to regional youth, sports and social cohesion departments  (See 1.3 )  and must describe missions carried out, their evolution and conditions of exercise. These activity reports must also enable Civic-Service approved organisations to indicate and identify difficulties encountered.

Quality assessment of missions is also carried out through distribution (by post or email) of satisfaction questionnaires to all volunteers at the end of their mission. Questionnaires, which are disseminated by the Civic Service Agency, provide information as to the overall level of volunteer satisfaction with regard to fulfilment of their mission, and the resulting feedback helps enrich Civic Service mission standards.

 

 

Regulations on standards of quality

 Bénévolat

In the case of bénévolat, there is no official document establishing a list of quality criteria for bénévole missions, or setting strict standards on what a bénévolat mission should be.

 

Volunteering

The situation is different for Civic Service: the Agence du Service Civique (Civic Service Agency) has a référentiel des missions (mission standardss) for bodies wishing to set up a civic service mission and illustrating what can be implemented in line with the scheme’s principles.

The standards were implemented in May 2010 following enactment of the Law of 10 March 2010 bearing on Civic Service. They indicate that a “compliant mission, whose design and drafting respect the principles set out in this document, is one of the fundamental keys to obtaining service civic approval, needed to receive volunteers”. They also remind interested parties what Civic Service consists of and specify what volunteers "may or may not do" depending on the 9 fields (themes) in which missions are performed:

  1. solidarity,
  2. health and education for all,
  3. culture and leisure,
  4. sport,
  5. environment,
  6. memory and citizenship,
  7. international development,
  8. humanitarian action 
  9. emergency response.

For example, the standards state that civic service missions must focus on one of the 9 priority themes set by the Board of Directors of the Civic Service Agency.

However, the mission standards are not limiting and remain indicative: activities can be added, detailed or removed by reception bodies, which must be fully cognisant of the document.

 

Target groups

 

One of the ministry in charge of youth’s policies is to promote international mobility of young people through volunteering, and diversify beneficiaries, including increasing access to young people with fewer opportunities.

Voluntary work

Voluntary work is accessible to all, regardless of age or level of qualification and whether in employment or not.

 

Civic service

The civic service is a volunteering opportunity based on a principle of social diversity. It is accessible to all, from 16 to 25 years old (or up to 30 years old for those with a disability) with no need for a diploma, and also promotes the involvement of young people from rural areas for whom the offer of projects and receiving structures are insufficient, but also young people who live in disadvantaged urban areas that come under the jurisdiction of urban policy. The urban policy is “the national policy for urban cohesion and solidarity on a national and local level aimed at disadvantaged areas and their residents”

In 2019:

  • 13% of civic service volunteers came from areas defined as “priority neighbourhoods” (QPV)
  • 24% of volunteers came from low-density or very low-density municipalities
  • 1.5% of volunteers had a disability

 

 

Civic service volunteer programme for refugees

In France, the inter-departmental delegation for welcoming and integrating refugees and the Agency for Civic Service manage a national volunteering programme for refugees called Volont’R.

This programme is based on a two-fold offer: on one hand, it allows young French people from 18 to 25 years old to become involved in a civic service project (volunteer work) to help refugees and, on the other hand, allows young refugees to take part in civic service projects that are adapted to their circumstances. These projects last for eight months, on average. The volunteer receives a monthly allowance. In order to ensure that mastery of French is not an obstacle to civic engagement, refugee volunteers take French language classes for the duration of their time volunteering.

The projects offered to benefit refugees could cover all topics in civic service (culture, sports, environment, etc.). Here are some examples of projects that are already offered: supporting asylum seekers and protected persons, promoting access to social and health-related rights for migrants, aiding literacy for French-speaking youth, etc.