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British Library of Political and Economic Science



Reference code(s): GB 0097 HCA/Friend

Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science

Title: Friend

Date(s): 1970-1995

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 11 boxes

Name of creator(s): Friend | Fellowship for the Relief of the Isolated and Emotionally in Need and Distress


Administrative/Biographical history:

Friend was set up in 1971 as a Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) taskforce intended to become CHE's counselling arm. By the end of the year Friend had been relaunched, becoming a separate national counselling and befriending organisation. As the London-based organisation (often known as London Friend) began to spread to the provinces, and local groups grew up, the whole network began to be known as National Friend. It was incorporated as a limited company in 1987, under the name of National Friend Ltd.
National Friend became a network of groups whose volunteer members provided information, support and befriending to lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Local groups were affiliated to National Friend, though they remained autonomous within agreed guidelines, which included a constitution, code of ethics, code of practice, an equal opportunities programme and a complaints procedure. In 1995 there were 31 local groups using either the name Friend or Gay Switchboard.
National Friend worked through a National Committee/Council of Management, whose aim was to support the local groups, provide guidance, advertise the work of Friend to outside agencies and hold conferences on subjects of mutual interest. In 1998, a grant from the National Lottery Charities Board enabled the development of a Birmingham office base and the employment of two members of staff to deal with administration, publicity and fundraising.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Friend, 1970-1995, a national counselling and befriending organisation, including and incomplete set of Annual Reports, 1974-1995; minutes of the London Friend Collective, Jan-Sep 1983; incomplete set of the Annual Reports of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, 1982-1990; material relating to the constitution of Friend, 1982-1986; papers relating to the formation of National Friend Ltd in 1987, including the memorandum and articles of association; National Friend newsletters, 1981-1982; reports, 1982-1985, on liaison visits by members of National Friend to local Friend groups in Coventry, Cardiff, West Kent, London, Bradford, Newcastle and Belfast; Friend administrative correspondence, 1971-1982, mainly concerning counselling; general correspondence between local groups and National Friend, 1978-1991, particularly concerning the organisation of conferences and the production of Annual Reports; comprehensive material relating to the activities of the affiliated local groups which make up Friend, usually working under the title of Friend or Gay Switchboard, 1973-1977 and 1982-1994, including correspondence, Annual Reports and newsletters; papers relating to specific campaigns and projects undertaken by Friend and National Friend, 1970-1988, including law reform, equal opportunities, AIDS and HIV, and opposition to Clause 28.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The papers are divided into Friend and Friend Additional, the latter solely comprising material relating to National Friend. Divisions within this arrangement are, broadly, administrative papers, correspondence, local groups, and campaigns.

Conditions governing access:

Open, though some confidential files remain closed. Apply to the Archivist for details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright retained by the depositor.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Full handlist and on-line catalogue available.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Some administrative papers of Friend had already been deposited in the Hall-Carpenter Archive before its move to the British Library of Political and Economic Science in 1988. Further deposits were made by National Friend, via John Wright, in Jun and Aug 1995.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The Hall-Carpenter Archives at the British Library of Political and Economic Science contain further material relating to Friend in the papers of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, the Albany Trust, the Gay Christian Movement, the Grey papers, the Joint Council for Gay Teenagers, the Robert Palmer papers and the Hall-Carpenter ephemera collection.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: British Library of Political and Economic Science Archives catalogue. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Oct 2000

Bisexuality | Sexuality
Homosexual law reform | Law reform | Law
Homosexuality | Sexuality
Legal systems | Law
Lesbian, gay and bisexual campaigning groups | Groups
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual social groups | Groups
Lesbianism | Sexuality
Sexuality counselling | Counselling | Social work

Personal names

Corporate names
Campaign for Homosexual Equality
Clause 28
Friend | Fellowship for the Relief of the Isolated and Emotionally in Need and Distress x National Friend
Gay Switchboard

Belfast | Northern Ireland | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Bradford | West Riding | Yorkshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Cardiff | Glamorgan | Wales | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Coventry | Warwickshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Ireland | Western Europe | Europe
Kent | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Newcastle upon Tyne | Northumberland | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe