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EXIT Finland

By Lotta Carlsson & Onni Sarvela.

The EXIT Finland program of the Deaconess Foundation is responsible for developing a national disengagement from violent extremism model to assist individuals who want to disengage from violent radicalisation and violent extremist groups.

The program adopts a multi-agency approach in the prevention of violent extremism bringing together local authorities, social and mental health services, and civil society organisations. In relation specifically to prison rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners, EXIT Finland works in collaboration with the Criminal Sanction Agency. Currently, the program is rolled out in partnership with local authorities and service providers in the cities of Helsinki, Oulu and Turku to identify and assess violent extremism risks, specific prevention needs and public safety concerns. Existing European and international models, tools and best practices are being reviewed and assessed to assist EXIT Finland in developing a comprehensive holistic assessment and disengagement from violent extremism model and its approach in the prevention of violent radicalisation. The activities of EXIT Finland builds on the Deaconess Foundation’s extensive national and international experiences in the fields of social and health care services provision, social exclusion and social cohesion. In addition, it focuses on bridgebuilding and community dialogue, prison rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners and prevention with individuals at risk of radicalisation or extremism.

EXIT Finland’s activities focus on three main areas:

1. The program provides, on a voluntary needs basis, multiprofessional confidential support to individuals who wish to exit radical and violent extremist groups as well as to those at risk of being radicalised. Remedial therapeutic approaches, mental health support and preventive social work are important elements of the program as well as the use of knowledge and know-how from other fields, such as criminal psychology or restorative justice, in informing their process. In addition, to support the distancing and reintegration process, clients are connected to public education, employment, social and health services.
2. The program aims to develop a national network, which brings together key stakeholders, services providers, civil society organisations and academics from the relevant fields to support EXIT Finland work and the referral of at-risk individuals to the relevant support services.
3. The program provides trainings and practical support on a specific need basis to first-line practitioners in collaboration with stakeholders, experts and professionals in the field.

Read more about the Deaconess Foundation and EXIT Finland here.

Find more examples of exit work in the RAN Collection of Inspiring Practices here.


Lotta Carlsson is an exit worker at the Helsinki Deaconess Institute Foundation, a clinical counsellor and a lecturer in crisis psychology.

Onni Sarvela is an exit worker at the Helsinki Deaconess Institute Foundation, a PVE training consultant and an independent professional youth worker.



More from Onni Sarvela in JEX:


The Article was first published in Spotlight. Spotlight is the publication for the RAN’s network of practitioners, designed to give you, the people on the frontline in communities, in schools, prisons, online and elsewhere, the opportunity to share your insights and your stories about the work that you do to tackle the violent extremism challenges in Europe today.

Picture: Hajran Pambudi / Unsplash