International peace depends to a large extent on the peoples of different nations respecting and understanding each others different cultures, religions and histories.
In order to help promote international understanding, UNA Coventry will become an affiliated with Coventry Association for International Friendship. For over 50 years this group has promoted international friendship and understanding by meeting together regularly for social events, by fundraising and by organising exchange visits with similar groups from our twin cities and partner towns abroad.
We hope that this partnership will help both sides to reach out to a wider public to promote this very important cause.
This is how the group describes itself
For over 50 years Coventry Association for International Friendship has worked in support of the city council’s policy of town-twinning by forming personal and cultural ties and organising group exchanges with a number of our twin towns.
The council invented town-twinning towards the end of the Second World War. It took the form of a Bond of Friendship between local authorities, initially to construct peaceful links with then other war-torn cities of Europe. It was also about reconciliation with former enemies.
Coventry’s twinning was accompanied by the international influence of Coventry Cathedral, after St Michael’s was destroyed in November 1940. The Community of the Cross of Nails was formed and has members all over the world.
These were the origins of Coventry City of Peace and Reconciliation, a symbolism that helps to give the city its international status.
Where does CAIF come into the story? It is the third string of the bow. Its role is to supplement civic and cathedral links by involving ordinary citizens. It had a mushroom growth in the atmosphere of alarm during the Cold War. In the early sixties there was widespread apprehension in Coventry of a nuclear devastation that would make November 14 1940 seem like a Sunday picnic.
A council-approved proposal for a permanent peace organisation was approved at meetings in St Mary’s Guildhall in November 1962. A very wide range of organisations in the city affiliated to it. Its general stance was to call to Russia and America to talk, talk, talk. Better to have years of negotiations rather than five minutes of nuclear war.
CAIF has always had a partnership with the city council – its President is the Lord Mayor and its chairman is a senior councillor – but it has never followed party-political agendas and has always stressed the importance of person–to-person contacts amongst nations.
CAIF’s activities have embraced youth orchestras, choirs, plays, art exhibitions, sports teams and travel by numerous groups to and from Volgograd, Kiel, Dresden, St Etienne, Caen, Graz, Warsaw, Coventry Rhode Island and also the city’s partner towns of Meschede in Germany and Vannes in Brittany. CAIF often hosts its visitors in its members’ homes and receives similar hospitality abroad.
Wherever CAIF goes, it produces excellent publicity for Coventry and forms good relationships not only with individuals but with local authorities. Its activities make a real contribution to international understanding, friendship and peace. They are also very enjoyable.
Much more could be done to strengthen ties of friendship between Coventry and its twins. Join CAIF and play your part.
More information at www.caif.co.uk