One of Caritas Europa’s strategic goals is: “Caritas Europa is a network of organisations that seeks to encourage its members to learn and exchange knowledge, experience and expertise in order to be more effective and sustainable”.
A contribution to this goal has been made in the development of a new approach to capacity strengthening for the Caritas Europa network: the Caritas Europa learning path.
It is a move away from the “one-off” workshops and seminars and introduces the following new elements:
- The added value of learning with and from each other at European level whereby creating communion. The same people walk the whole path together and form a community of experts who share the same understanding of the learning path’s theme
- A learning trajectory of around 20 months with a number of workshops in between which the participants can practice what they learnt in their own organisations while staying in touch with both facilitators and co-participants for advice and encouragement.
- The transfer of knowledge and skills from the participating individual to his/her organisation, ultimately strengthening the network
- Facilitation rather than training: There is a wealth of expertise, experience and practice, knowledge, skills and expertise available among the participants. This ‘unexploited’ expertise needs to circulate and be shared: Facilitated! Not a lot of theory is taught. Existing CE tools, processes are referred to and used rather than new ones.
- Another new and important element of the learning path approach is the exploring of Caritas identity based on its values and Catholic social teaching in relation to the main themes of the learning paths.
The organisational development learning path -ODLP
Based on the above, the first learning path to be developed and implemented was the Organisational Development Learning Path – ODLP. Its objective: To empower Caritas organisations in Europa to manage their core processes and resources through shared learning, while keeping people they serve at the centre.
The learning path was designed around four carefully identified themes related to organisational development:
These four cycles were each introduced during a very interactive 4 day workshop. Where relevant the links between these elements and Caritas values and identity were explored.
From May 2014 to November 2016 a group of 17 participants from 16 national Caritas organisations walked the OD learning path: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine.
Catholic Social Teaching –CST learning path “Caritas in Action”.
The second learning path that was developed and implemented was the Catholic Social Teaching –CST learning path “Caritas in Action”.
Based on the need expressed in the network, the learning path was designed to Help Caritas Europa increase its competences in Catholic Social Teaching through Action whereby contributing to Catholic Social Thought.
Two CST experts from CAFOD developed and delivered this learning path for Caritas Europa.
In its four modules implemented in three workshops, the learning path allowed the participants to
1) Listen: Understand the basics of CST;
2) SEE: develop their Self-awareness (what is going on in my home organisation?;
3) JUDGE: develop Consciousness; and
4) ACT –step 1: identification of objectives for improvement in MO and draft action plan; step 2: sharing of action plans ; and step 3 : start Acting (in the home organisation, following the LP)
13 Caritas staff from 11 different Caritas organisation, including the CE Secretariat were on this journey together for a good year: from April 2016 to April 2017.
They came from Armenia, Bulgaria, CSAN, Greece, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal and Slovenia
The advocacy learning path – ALP – ongoing
Since spring 2016, a group of 15 participants from as many different Caritas organisations explore together ways of doing Caritas Advocacy. The aim: bring about changes in institutional policies and practices, political processes and systems, as well as in attitudes and behaviours of stakeholders throughout Europe. People in need are the starting point for Caritas Advocacy. This means that we listen to the people in need in order to systematically mainstream the needs and interests of people and communities experiencing poverty.
Framed in Catholic Social Teaching and the European, national and regional legislative agendas the learning path allows the group to get to grips with tools, timing and techniques specific to campaigning and lobbying.
Two ODS advocacy experts facilitate this Advocacy learning path
The ALP is based on four modules and steps in the advocacy process:
1) Seeing, listening and interacting with people and communities experiencing poverty;
2) Judging and analysing what we see, hear and experience with people and communities experiencing poverty;
3) Acting on the analyses of what we’ve seen, heard and experienced with people and communities experiencing poverty; and
4) Caritas acting to change the trends.
The participants come from Armenia, Austria, Belgium international and Caritas in Belgium, Bulgaria, CSAN-England a Wales, Finland, Greece, Luxemburg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine and the CI Secretariat
A Humanitarian Aid learning path is being developed as well asa second organsational development learning path.
Both should be ready for the network to sign up for by September 2017.
They will take place together with the advocacy learning path in the framework of Autumn Academy 2017, organised in Warsaw, Poland from 6 -10 November
The learning path workshops are organised to take place simultaneously in the same place in the framework of “Caritas Academy”. There are two CE academy moments in a year: the Spring Academy in April, and the Autumn Academy in November.