New EU-funded ‘EYES’ Project Helps Youth Get Back on their Feet

by Sara Tchaparian

Good news! The EU-funded “EYES” project is to be launched by STC this spring, promising to reinforce our mission to underpin neighbourhood and community support to help those in need.

The project acronym ‘EYES’ stands for ‘Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurial Skills’, targeting young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs). It boosts their life skills through 1-on-1 coaching, as well as through opportunities for work placements, volunteering positions or training.

The initiative is co-funded by Interreg, one of the key EU funding instruments supporting cooperation across borders through project funding.  Sara Tchaparian, EYES Project Coordinator at Serve the City International, hopes that the project will make a difference to youths in STC’s entourage once it is launched.  “STC has been working alongside other EYES consortium partners in France, Belgium, the UK, The Netherlands and Germany to get the project off the ground,” says Sara. “The project itself is unique, as it is accompanied by an app that gives youths a chance to interact with a coach both in-person and offline, and it also features a personalised coaching plan and information on resources and support programmes in their local area.”

With the number of NEETS on the rise, the timing of the project is crucial. Almost 14 million young adults aged 20–34 in the EU were unemployed and not enrolled in education or training in 2020, and the risk of long-term social and economic exclusion has certainly been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Additional pressure on the mental health of youth from the impact of COVID-19 measures has been documented by studies worldwide highlighting psychological distress, depression and anxiety, alongside a lack of support services during the pandemic.

Also of concern is the significant gender gap conveyed by recent statistics. 21.5 % of young females aged 20–34 in the EU were NEETs in 2020, while the corresponding figures among young males was much lower at 13.8 % (Source: Eurostat).

“It’s really important that we are able to access these youths right now,” says Sara. “They are are essentially ‘stuck’, either feeling let down, lost, uninspired or unmotivated.  Our research has shown that NEETs typically don’t go to the local job centre or to their local youth centre, so a community approach can really work to help us to connect with these youths to give them the support that they need so that they can be inspired to make the changes they need in their lives”.

The new EYES project app is called ‘Utolo’ and will be available for download following a pilot phase in March this year.  Once the project is up and running, Serve the City will promote the key role of volunteer coaches in providing tailored support for youths, nurturing the self-confidence, motivation and innovation that they need to work towards their goals.

Below is the EYES poster and a few screenshots of the Utolo app:





If you would like to be part of the Serve the City “EYES” volunteer network, helping to support youth through coaching or by offering training or vocational opportunities, please contact Sara Tchaparian:

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