Fryshuset, Passus

Postal / ZIP Code: 12006

Address 2: Mårtendalsgatan 2–8 • Box 92022

Country: Sweden

Web site:

City: Stockholm

Phone: +46 (0)8 691 72 66

Fryshuset, which means “cold store” in Swedish was founded in 1984.
Formally Fryshuset was a foundation headed by the YMCA of Stockholm.
The Swedish Passus project was started in 2010. It provides hands-on support for persons wanting to leave criminal gangs or networks by cooperating with various housing corporations, the police, social services, the legal system and also with the client’s own family and friends.
The aim of Passus is to offer first-line intervention and support for those young people and their educators, parents and related professionals.
One key-element in the work of Passus is the use of “bridge-builders” or “key-personalities”, who have own experiences of criminal gangs or networks.
Another key-element is the application of a method called MRP (Motivation, Relation and Passion) for dealing with the needs and new identities of the clients.
A promising aspect of Passus is its adoption of first-liners with biographical experiences from
criminal gangs or networks.

Fryshuset was founded in 1984 as a result of joint efforts by the YMCA of Stockholm and a couple of unyielding enthusiasts, among them Fryshuset’s founding father Anders Carlberg. Initially the centre was located in an old cold storage (Fryshuset means cold store in Swedish), but after a couple of years it was transferred to larger premises (24 000 square metres) on the south side of Stockholm.
At the outset, sports and music were the sole activities, but social issues made their way into the agenda as a reflection on young people’s wants and needs.
One such early example came in the summer of 1986 when violent riots occurred between differing teenaged groups in Stockholm. The Swedish government asked Fryshuset to step in and help relieve the situation. Fryshuset launched a campaign, touring around the country lecturing on constructive alternatives to violence. During the tour it became obvious that most teenagers deplored violence and had a lot of vital ideas on how to counteract it and how to a build a better future.
Today Fryshuset runs several schools and programs for vocational training, seminars and conferences, courses in theatre, music, and sport as well as hosting events, concerts, parties and discotheques. It even has its own church, the Fryshus-church.
The activities at Fryshuset are usually divided into three main areas:
Social projects, Education and Passionate interests/hobbies.

Fryshuset’s aim with firstline intervening is mental and social rehabilitation in order to create a new life and give support to families of young people, who are on their way into criminal gangs or networks.
It provides support to those who wish to leave a criminal gang or network. The motivation for this project is to prevent young people from jeopardising their lives and future perspectives and from causing pervasive victimisation of others and serious damage to society by engaging criminal activities.
Fryshuset also educates schools, authorities, police, the correctional system, social workers and parents in how to deal with engagement in criminal gangs or networks.

Practitioners' Background:
Passus employees have a broad range of skills, many years of work experience and personal experience from criminal gangs or networks. After leaving their engagement in criminal gangs or networks they have been studying e.g. MI method, crisis and conflict and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Passus’ clients are primarily men between the ages of 16 and 38 wanting to leave criminal gangs or networks. Most of them have been involved in criminal activities for various periods of time and are now in need of re-socialisation programs and help and support with getting back into society.
Some of their clients have been or are in prison (or otherwise incarcerated), have bad or no relations with their families and they all lack a social network outside of the environment they’re about to leave. Many of them have a need to leave their home town because of threats of violence from their former groups, some lack a place to stay altogether. The majority is also in need of employment or a workplace and some have financial debts that need to be dealt with.
Some of them come from destructive living conditions with alcohol/drug abuse and violence, negative social conditions during childhood with poverty, incomplete schooling (dropouts), unemployment, a strong perception of betrayal by society etc. Passus’ clients are looking for acknowledgement, protection, affiliation and thrills. Common for many youths who seek out criminal gangs or networks is a sense of alienation, a negative self-esteem, and feelings of apprehension, anxiety and shame. To counteract this inner chaos, they attempt to exercise control in their environment and over other people. Threats, humiliation and violence are the tools for establishing external control. One cannot lose face or show weakness.
Alienation is often reinforced and confirmed through, for example, failure in studies, having difficulty in finding friends and not being accepted by classmates. Perceived betrayal from the adult world – that one has been abandoned by parents, teachers and other adults (who are unwilling or unable to provide support) and left to manage alone can also be confirmation that one does not fit in. They then gain strength in their alienated identity through association with other “rejects” with similar histories and values. When they enter in to a criminal group, they receive support and acknowledgement; they find a “family” and belong somewhere. It is this feeling of belonging that makes it so difficult to leave and to continue all the way.
When they contact Passus some go through different forms of crisis. Clinical depression, low spirits, loss of energy, uneasiness and anxiety is very common. It is important that those trying to leave the gangs and networks receive the support of family, friends and society. The aim of Passus is to notice these needs and to provide the support in the meantime.
It’s important that they are offered alternatives in the form of social relations, meaningful activity and security, if necessary, therapy and someone to talk to. The risk for relapse and returning is otherwise substantial.

A basic principle in Passus’ method is that a person who has experience of criminal gangs or networks has a unique starting point to support others who want to leave those groups. Therefore some of Passus employees have own, personal experiences from within the gangs. This gives credibility and a good ground for knowledge on what our clients need in terms of support. As part of the principle Passus has the idea that other expertise is needed in the work as well, therefore the staff consists of a mixture of personnel with own experience and professionals, mostly curators.
The support each client gets is based on his or her individual needs, which may vary a lot but often mean that you have to start from scratch and build a whole new life and a new identity. For that Passus uses a method called MRP (Motivation, Relation and Passion):
It starts with a first contact with the client, who often seeks contact with Passus by him-/herself, but also his or her family members and governmental authorities.
In the first step Passus analyses, if he is really motivated to leave the criminal gang or network and discusses the benefits but also difficulties thereof. This step can take a couple off meetings and here practitioners decide if they can go on helping him/her or not. This decision is based on two principles:
1) The client is really motivated and honest
2) and Passus has the competences for the particular case (in case of drug abuse or alcoholism Passus requests them to do a rehabilitation process first).
Most of the time it’s the coaches with own experience who have the first contact with the client. They have gone through a similar process and therefore have a personal understanding of the clients' feelings as well as needs and can “speak the same language”. Still the coaches are always advised by the counsellors, Passus’ other specialists.
In the second step that goes hand in hand with the first, practitioners start to build a relationship with the client. It’s important that both parts trust the other and start a sincere relationship based on confidence.
Many of the clients have psychological problems that they need to work with; they might feel guilt and shame, sensation of loneliness and isolation are usual. Therefore it is central to motivate and support him/her.
Here Passus also considers the clients’ needs, prioritises them and makes a “commitment plan” that explains step by step how the client needs to build this new life (life style, relationships, studies, work, household) and to take responsibilities for his actions, all towards a smooth and easy re-integration as is possible. During the whole process Passus’ professionals go along with the client, the idea is to accompany every step, until he/she can stand on his/her own.
The last part off the process is to induce the client to find a passion that he/she likes and to start practicing it. Passus thinks that an important part of the rehabilitation process is finding a passion in life (such as sports, music, art).
The process is different from client to client. Also the duration of the process varies; some clients undergo this process within months and others need years to successfully disembark.
Passus also hopes to contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms behind the involvement in criminal gangs and networks. This they do by giving lectures, seminars and workshops on their empirics and other experiences. Passus educates and helps professionals, organisations and others working with people wanting to leave gangs and criminal organisations.

Work Context (local/national):
As a non profit organisation the staff consists of one operations manager, two counselors / social workers, three coaches and a network of MI trainers, psychotherapists and psychiatrists.

Passus has good relations with all of the parties represented in parliament with the exception of the Swedish Democrats (right-wing populists). The media coverage and public perception are strongly in favor of Passus’ project’s continuation.

Quality Management:
Passus always conducts evaluations on each client both during and after.

Academic Network/Research:
Passus is and has been involved with different Universities. In Sweden it has mostly been Södertörns Högskola and the University of Stockholm. Outside of Sweden it has been involved with e.g. the University of St Andrews in UK, the University of Hamburg, Germany and the University in Roskilde in Denmark.

Contact: Robert Örell Fryshuset, Verksamhetschef Exit,

Fax: +46 (0)8 691 76 00

Final Report

The Final Report of the first two project years is available here:

English Version
German Version
French Version