Friends was founded in 1997 by Sara Damber.
Sara is the driving force behind Friends who has experienced bullying herself. In her case, the bullying stopped when a boy in her class spoke up and eventually managed to get the rest of the pupils to join with him. This experience is one of the reasons why Friends believes in pupil involvement. Pupils are important, and everyone can make a difference.
Since the early days, Friends has grown to become the largest organization in Sweden working to combat bullying. An important step in the organization’s evolution was when the foundation was officially set up in 1999. Two years later, in 2001, the organization was also approved for a 90-account from the Swedish Fundraising Control association. In 2003, a project focused on combating harassment and acts of intimidation in sports clubs was launched; and in September 2006, Friends Sport became part of Friends’ operations. In 2008, a project working with preschools was launched; and in August 2009, Friends fair and equal treatment work was also incorporated there. In 2010, Friends went through a reorganization process, and the various departments working with training and education were combined to one department under the name Education and Training.
Friends works continually with internal development, but since 2008 this has been more in focus, with a specific goal to create better conditions for schools to achieve long-term change. This has led to Friends developing the training concept called The Friends Program, which was launched in the fall of 2010. To begin with, the program has been focused on 6th-9th grade, with the intention to include all grades and ages in the future.
Friends’ head office is in Stockholm. In April 2005, an office was opened in Gothenburg, another in Umeå in October 2006, and one in Malmö in April 2008. Friends has roughly 45 staff (May 2015).
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