Non-theoretical peer-to-peer learning aiming at the development, improvement and refinement of deradicalisation practice
EPEX is an international network, including 15 organisations and individual members from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Norway, Tunisia and the UK working in the prevention of radicalisation, deradicalisation and exit work.
The members‘ diverse working contexts range from prevention work in schools, advising and supporting families, engaging with returning foreign fighters, running mentoring programmes in prison to analysing methods across different regions. EPEX draws from a great variety of organisational set-ups: From public service background, to well-established organisations with links to statutory institutions, to new initiatives and informal grassroots groups sustained by the commitment of voluntary activists. This variety of approaches, points of view and knowledge has been a great resource in creating shared learning. Many of the conferences and networking events we see in our field today take place in formal, large-scale settings where chosen speakers give PowerPoint presentations in large conference rooms. Discussions and questions time is strictly limited, making this mostly a one-way, top down flow of information.
EPEX goes beyond this usual event setting and managed to make a difference: Not only in the ways of exchange – by enabling practitioners, to get a hands-on impression of a colleague’s work routine – but also in regard to relationship-building and thereby in the general atmosphere of the practice exchange and discussions. Year 1 and 2 of the project focused on planning, carrying out and monitoring Job-Shadowing Visits. In the second round of Job-Shadowing Visits, there has been a definite change in both the outcomes and the aspirations of the visits.
In year one, the visits were about getting to know colleagues and the context they operate in. The second year visits were much more focused on leveraging knowledge from the experience and identifying specific elements of practice that can be transferred across different contexts. The rationale being that by matching participants on specific tasks or challenges, this shifts the focus of the visits from a discussion of what organisations do to one of how they do it. Travelling to another place made practitioners look at things from a different viewpoint. The experience also gives them space from the pressures of their everyday work and the opportunity to compare different approaches, respectively to reflect on elements of practice in a way they simply do not get the chance to in their daily work routine.
In the project’s evaluation interviews, the space for reflection procured by visits and plenary meetings was mentioned by all members as providing a major boost to their work. Furthermore the participants asserted, that the exchange provided value in identifying elements of practice that are transferable to their own working context. Besides providing a new and unique model of networking and Practice exchange to leverage learning and to improve the work practice of all members, EPEX extracted „overarching themes“ and topics from the discussions that evolved in the frame of the Job-Shadowing Visits. This was achieved by finding shared challenges that occur in everyday practice. In year 3, we are currently condensing our learnings in a practitioner-led and collaborative publication. This will be an output documenting the overarching themes and capturing practitioners‘ viewpoints and messages coming out of the 3-year learning process.