human development, social justice and sustainable social systems


Exchanging knowledge, experience & expertise


One of Caritas Europa’s strategic goals is to encourage Caritas organisations to learn and exchange knowledge, experience and expertise in order to be more effective and sustainable.

A key tenet of this approach is the Caritas Europa learning path, which allows participants to improve their skills and expertise via a number of workshops over a 20-month period rather than through a series of ad hoc, one-off trainings.

Why do we need this?

The Caritas Europa learning path approach offers the following advantages:

  • The added value of learning with and from each other at a European level, whereby creating a community of practice around the learning path theme;
  • A learning trajectory of around 20 months that includes a number of workshops and, in between the workshops, enough time for the participants to put their learnings to the test in their own organisations, while still in touch with both facilitators and co-participants for advice and encouragement;
  • Knowledge and competences are transferred from the participating individuals to the Caritas organisations, ultimately resulting in a stronger Caritas Europa network;
  • Facilitation rather than training: there is a wealth of expertise, experience, practice, knowledge and skills available among the participants that is shared;
  • It is practical. Little theory is taught and reference is made to existing Caritas Europa tools and processes;
  • It explores Caritas Europa’ identity based on its values and Catholic Social Teaching in relation to the main themes of the learning paths.

How does it work?

A number of learning paths have been developed and implemented along the above lines. Some are already being implemented for the second time:

1. The Organisational Development Learning Path (ODLP)

Following the success of the first Organisational Development Learning Path (ODLP) that was implemented from May 2015 to November 2016, the second ODLP is now taking place for a second group of colleagues in the network. It runs from November 2017 through April 2019.

The objective is to empower Caritas organisations in Europe to manage their core processes and resources through shared learning, while keeping the people they serve at the centre.

The learning path was designed around four carefully identified themes:

  1. The organisation;
  2. Organisational development;
  3. Institutional advocacy and risk management ; and
  4. Human resources management (plus…).

An external consultant together with a Caritas Europa Secretariat staff member accompany a group of 14 colleagues from 11 Caritas organisations throughout this second ODLP. The participants come from Caritas Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine.

• See what participants say about the ODLP!

2. Catholic Social Teaching Learning Path (CST LP): 'Caritas in Action'

The second learning path that was developed and implemented was the Catholic Social Teaching Learning Path (CST LP): ‘Caritas in Action’. Two colleagues from Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD) facilitated the learning paths’ four modules that were implemented during three workshops and in the months in between.

The modules were designed to help participants to:

  1. Listen: understand the basics of CST;
  2. See: develop their self-awareness (what is going on in my organisation?);
  3. Judge: develop consciousness; and
  4. Act.

13 Caritas employees from 11 different Caritas organisations took this journey together from April 2016 to April 2017. They came from Armenia, Bulgaria, England and Wales, Greece, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovenia and the Caritas Europa Secretariat.

• Listen to the testimonies of some of the participants

3. The Advocacy Learning Path (ALP)

The first Advocacy Learning Path (ALP) took place from April 2016 to November 2017 with 15 participants from as many Caritas organisations who together explored ways of improving their advocacy work throughout four modules.

The second ALP started in November 2018 and is being implemented along the same lines as the first one. 16 participants representing 12 member organisations (Caritas Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia) come together aiming to improve their efforts to bring about changes in institutional policies and practices, political processes and systems, as well as in the attitudes and behaviour of stakeholders throughout Europe.

People in need are the starting point for Caritas Europa’s advocacy. We listen to them and then work to systematically mainstream their wants and concerns in policies at the European and national level.

Framed around Catholic Social Teaching and the European, national and regional legislative agendas, the learning path allowed the group to get to grips with the tools, timing and techniques specific to campaigning and lobbying.

An external consultant together with a Caritas staff member facilitate this learning path, which is based on four modules:

  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 have seen, heard and experienced with people and communities experiencing poverty; and
  4. Caritas acting to change the trends.

• Listen to the testimonies of some of the participants

4. The Humanitarian Action Learning Path (HALP)

The Humanitarian Action Learning Path (HALP) was developed to equip Caritas organisations’ humanitarian staff with knowledge and practical know-how to strengthen their capacity for serving people affected by humanitarian crises in a more efficient and professional way. This learning path helps participants to deal with the various dilemmas among the participants, their organisations and in the European Caritas network.

The HALP took off in April 2018 with 14 participants from 12 member organisations: Carita Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, England/Wales, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

A Caritas Europa Secretariat staff member supports an external consultant in the facilitation of this learning path. Four main themes are addressed:

  1. Humanitarian action in Caritas, International Humanitarian Law and humanitarian principles in practice;
  2. Needs assessment, monitoring and accountability in emergencies;
  3. Disaster risk reduction and focus on natural disasters;
  4. Innovation in humanitarian assistance (cash grants) and long term perspective.

Looking to the future

A Grassroots Participation Learning Path (GPLP) should be ready to start in November 2019.

More learning paths will follow based on needs in the Caritas Europa network.

Caritas Europa Academy

Learning paths are in general made up of four modules that are delivered through four workshops and continuous work within the participants’ organisations. The twice-yearly workshops all take place at the same time and in the same place, in the context of the Caritas Europa Academy – once in April (Spring Academy) and once in November (Autumn Academy).

A Caritas Europa Academy is always kicked off with an opening session in which the participants of all ongoing learning paths gather together. Special guests deliver a key note speech that links aspects of Caritas identity to the ongoing learning path topics.

May 2015: Prague (Czech Republic)
Autumn 2015: Rome (Italy)

Spring Academy 2016: Madrid (Spain)
Autumn Academy 2016: Berlin (Germany)

Spring Academy 2017: Valetta (Malta)
Autumn Academy 2017: Warsaw (Poland)

Spring Academy 2018: Athens (Greece)
Autumn Academy 2018: Zagreb (Croatia)

Spring Academy 2019: Lisbon (Portugal)
Autumn Academy 2019: Milan (Italy)

Spring Academy 2020: Brussels (Belgium)

ask an expert

Miriam Pikaar
Institutional Development Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 03 99
Mob: +32 (0)478 58 54 36