Your Best Friend

Co-creating support resources for young friends in toxic relationships


Abuse and toxic behaviour are endemic in young relationships. But where do you go when you don’t hear your story reflected anywhere else? Who do you turn to when you can’t relate to the adult language of professional spaces and your teachers and family don’t feel like your first point of call? For young people, it is their best friends that fill this gap.

As part of a national consortium of 11 organisations, we’ve joined SafeLives to help young people better articulate their relationships and support one another to spot and tackle abusive and toxic behaviour.


My best friend has gone out with someone and drifted away from us completely…he used to comment on her body; about how it was fat and that. But like, I can just remember that I was so helpless, I couldn’t do anything because I think we were only about like fourteen. I, I didn’t have any knowledge, I didn’t have any education on how to, on where to go if someone’s going through a really unhealthy relationship and that – Young person, 17 

The Your Best Friend project continues to build on the powerful narrative work of drawtheline.uk – an interactive mobile platform we co-created with young people in 2020 that uses community journalism and personal stories to help others better identify when they and their best friends are in a toxic relationship. 

There is a glaring absence of teens in domestic abuse services, despite their higher risk of abuse in their early relationships. To better understand this, we ran a national survey – Talk About Toxic – that attracted 500+ responses from young people across the country. Many shared stories of harm experienced in their relationships. Not only did they say they don’t relate to the term ‘domestic’ or ‘abuse’, but they also told us that instead of going online, to their teachers or other adults, they were going to their best friends.

Best friends, other young people, sometimes as young as 12 and 13, are thereby forming an invisible line in the battle against relationship-based violence. We need to strengthen these frontlines by ensuring they have both the language and the signposting to be able to help their friends spot abuse and seek support.

Radar joined this consortium as a specialist in digital storytelling and to help young people find the right solution to ensure their voices and experiences are heard. With a diversity of national partners, the consortium reaches the groups that are the least heard in our national conversations. This includes young Muslim teenagers and LGBTQI+ young people who often don’t see themselves represented in the service language or support communication materials and, at times, find themselves blocked by cultural perceptions.

The beginning of the project was focused on deep listening and building a network of youth co-producers. In July 2021, we released a national survey that set out to gather lived experiences around supporting friends. From this, we found that 71% of young people have spotted behaviours that worry them in friends’ relationships, and 78% said fear would stop them from talking to a friend about this.

To better support this invisible frontline, we then moved into the co-creation phase of the project where we worked with a steering group of young people who brainstormed ideas and up-voted the resources that they wanted to see made (see their ideas here). The Your Best Friend fund launched in November 2021 and awarded grants to grassroots and youth organisations to take these ideas forward, ready for the campaign launch in early 2022.


As part of one of the youth-led solutions, we co-produced the Friends Can Tell podcast with young women to raise awareness about how friends can help each other. In a series of candid conversations, young people meet for the first time to share their stories of how they overcame self-doubt to keep a friend safe from relationship abuse. This was shared as an audio and vodcast series with British Sign Language interpretation and signposts of where to find support.


Thank you for providing a safe space in which we could feel comfortable to share our experiences – most of the words I had uttered were uttered for the first time so thank you for having me be a part! – Sarah, young woman

Throughout the project, we were able to ensure that all young people’s voices were included and heard, including non-binary people and young women with disabilities through safe and accessible spaces to engage and share their lived experiences. Because of this, the resources that have come from the project are better suited to meet the needs of the diverse experiences of young people from across England and Wales – just like the Friends Can Tell podcast.

First launched in mid-June, the podcast was shared across social media as part of our communications campaign, now, it has reached up to 500 young people – amplifying the experiences of young women and supporting other young listeners to find confidence and the tools needed to help a friend in a toxic relationship.


Explore the Your Best Friend project

Listen to the Friends Can Tell podcast or watch the vodcast episodes

Find out more about Draw the Line here

Or visit the mobile platform yourself using the QR code below

QR code for the Draw the Line platform 


SafeLives, Galop, Hafan Cymru, Muslim Youth Helpline, PODS, Lancashire BME Network, Llamau, The Mix, Yana, Super Being Labs