This is an episode in the Radio NI podcast series, which features regular interviews with contributors to New Internationalist's magazine and books. You can subscribe to this podcast for free in iTunes, or via the RSS feed, or by visiting the Radio NI blog to check for new interviews.
In Britain, where fear and anger of the ‘stranger’ next door is often promoted by politicians and the mainstream media, Friends And Neighbours (FAN) groups began as a network of people making a difference through the power of conversation.
The idea has now spread as far as Pakistan, all with the same structure and principles. Regular meetings of around an hour are held with the same opening and closing words and every attendee is given a certain amount of time to talk on a nominated topic.
Although the FAN charity, which supports these autonomously operated groups, does not consider itself an activist organization, it has brought people together and challenged perceptions within and between a diverse range of people.
This year the network celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Amy Hall speaks to FAN fans in England, Wales and Pakistan to find out what the meetings have done for them.
Find out more at the FAN Charity website or follow @thefancharity on Twitter.
Thanks to Water Pageant for the music used in this podcast. Find out more about the band on their MySpace page.
Thanks also to Yuri Ferreira Nogueira and Floor Mattress whose music was used under a Creative Commons Licence.
Download original podcast.