human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Inspire a continent

YoungCaritas in Europe

The informal network of youngCaritas in Europe was established with the aim of providing an opportunity for young people to organise an annual YoungCaritas day as a way of discussing and engaging in the matters facing European societies.

Who is involved?

  • Around 500 young people in local, regional and national YoungCaritas groups;
  • Around 100 young people participating in the common meetings of the network;
  • Around 15 staff members of the different YoungCaritas services in 6 countries;
  • The national and local Caritas organisations.

Resources needed

  • The successful application for a strategic partnership with the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport (Erasmus+);
  • 1-2 staff members in every partner YoungCaritas;
  • 10-20 young people in every local, regional or national YoungCaritas activist group;
  • A lot of time.

Content description

Various YoungCaritas groups had started emerging in six European countries (Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy-Southern Tirol) as a participative concept for young people in the social field. YoungCaritas works towards the active, creative and participative engagement of young people, for people in need, such as refugees, migrants, homeless people, people with disabilities, families at risk of poverty, etc. The young people involved in YoungCaritas groups started wanting to get to know their colleagues better and share their experiences, and so the informal network ‘YoungCaritas in Europe’ was established. As the interest in working together grew bigger after a few, small, common activities, the network successfully applied for Strategic Partnership of the European Commission via the Erasmus+ programme. With the support of this partnership, the young people of ‘YoungCaritas in Europe’ were able to organise an annual YoungCaritas day, with flash mobs, to discuss political aspects of the migration situation, and to write a joint letter to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to which they received a reply! Together these young people wanted to change their societies and overcome all borders and differences. As there were different YoungCaritas groups emerging across several countries, the young people asked to get to know their ‘colleagues’ and share experiences. Three years after their first meeting the collaboration became systematic and after five years of its existence, their endeavours and network grew into a principal theme of the Caritas Europa Regional Conference in Georgia in May 2018.

Lessons learned

These can be succinctly summarised as follows:

  • Young people do not know borders and want to conquer differences;
  • If young people get an idea, they are willing to work hard for/at it;
  • Give young people attractive opportunities, and they participate with vigour, joy and inspiration;
  • Young people need accompanying by motivated, employed adults, who have time to monitor, evaluate and provide mentoring.

Project snapshot

  • Budget: €100,000 (Erasmus+).
  • People: 12 staff members 500 young people.
  • Time: 3 years.

authors

Alice Uhl and Paul Galles
Facilitators
YoungCaritas in Europe

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