Unis-Cité : a public service in increasing demand

Giving every young person in France the chance to spend nine-months working on community projects: this is the altruistic challenge set by the "Unis-Cité" association. There is growing demand in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.

Social and Employment

Lille, northern France, France

Michel Desmoucelles, Veolia Energie - Dalkia

40,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2005/10/04
  Project leader Unis-cité Nord Pas-de-Calais www.unis-cite.org

«  An entire group of sponsors spontaneously agreed to support the new and enthusiastic team of volunteers from "Unis-Cité Nord-Pas-de-Calais". These various initiatives help to give young people an appetite for advancing our long-term approach to community action in France. »

Michel Desmoucelles

When you're between 18 and 25, giving up nine months to help combat social exclusion, strengthen community ties, improve the local surroundings or protect the environment, can be a formative experience which serves you well as you embark on adult life.
For the past fifteen years, the "Unis-Cité" association has worked with local authorities, businesses and foundations to offer this opportunity to growing numbers of young people. In the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, four annual intakes of volunteers have already backed over 100 initiatives. The 21 volunteers of the 2006 team helped open a new unit in Lens.

Reaching out to a diverse audience

Backing is provided to a wide variety of projects. With the "Atout Sens" association, specialised in helping children with behavioural problems, the young people oversee the various fun and cultural activities on offer. With the hospital in Lille, they helped establish a special area for patients, hospital staff and local residents.
With the hospital in Roubaix, they set up initiatives aimed at solitary elders.
Also at Roubaix, some of them took part in the " fête des jardins familiaux de Roubaix": a total of 30 projects were developed over the year.
Sharing the interest of Unis-Cité in the training of the younger generation, the Veolia foundation made a grant of € 40 000 towards the completion of the various projects. The funding enabled volunteers to receive essential grants, training in citizenship and professional skills, contributed towards the cost of opening the Lens unit, etc. in addition to this financial aid, and to echo the many ongoing initiatives, several Veolia Energie (Dalkia) sponsors decided to support the young people by taking these initiatives forward within their companies. This exceptional involvement happened in a completely natural way: the adults wanted to use all their power to help the youths get the most out of their experiences.
The quality of the contacts made during this first project also encouraged the Veolia Foundation to aid Unis-Cité on another two French districts, one in theVar and the other in the Nord.