- Friends United Network
name = Friend's United Network (FUN)
type = Charity
purpose = Helping young people
location = Studio 442, Highgate Studios, Highgate Road,
region_served = North London, UK
website = [http://www.friendsunitednetwork.org.uk www.friendsunitednetwork.org.uk]
remarks = Key people:Richard Turner
Chief ExecutiveJudy Hildebrand Chairman
Friends United Network (FUN) is a mentoring project which aims to support children in Camden and Islington over the long-term. FUN volunteers agree to befriend a child for a minimum period of 2 years, meeting the child weekly for three to four hours. Its approach is based on the belief that secure relationships lay the foundation for emotional well-being. The emphasis is therefore on the gradual development of a real friendship between the young person and the adult, but one that is closely supported and supervised by FUN staff.
Training is given to prepare volunteers for their role and an emphasis is given to the need to listen to children, to accept them and to allow them space to 'be'. After the initial training weekend, all volunteers will be assigned a FUN caseworker who they will remain in regular contact with during their time as a volunteer. FUN also provides on-going training for volunteers and organises several group outings for children, families and volunteers each year.
FUN has 9 employees including 5 caseworkers and a clinical manager. The CEO is Richard Turner. FUN's board of trustees is chaired by Judy Hildebrand. FUN also benefits from the commitment of its patrons including: Sir Richard Bowlby, Dr John Byng-Hall, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Susie Orbach, Jonathan Pryce, Sir Simon Rattle CBE, Lord Skidelsky, and Margot Sunderland.
Evaluation of FUN's work
In 1995 an independent 2 year evaluation of the service was carried out by Professor Antony Cox (then Chair of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Guy's Hospital) and Professor Hilton Davis.
The results positively demonstrated the beneficial impact of the befriending on both the young people and their parents. All considered that "FUN enriched the young people's lives, had a beneficial effect on their mental health, contributed to the improvement of behavioural, emotional and school problems and enhanced their self-esteem."
Professors Cox and Davis recommended that FUN be replicated in both London and elsewhere in the U.K. commenting "The experience and expertise gained by the staff of FUN is of a very high quality and should be widely shared with others."
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