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Coventry Association for International Friendship

The setting up CAIF coincided with the events surrounding the consecration of the new Cathedral in 1962. The backdrop was heightened tensions between 'eastern block' countries and 'the west'. The Lord Mayor, William Callow, convened a conference of representatives from twenty-two towns that had friendship ties with Coventry. The outcome was that, on 1st November 1962, the first officers and executive of the Coventry Committee for International Understanding were elected, and in due course, CCIU became CAIF.

CAIF is an open association interested in promoting peace, friendship and understanding and, for over 50 years, it has supported town-twinning. It plans social events, visits and fundraising. It has had historical links with Volgograd and particularly long-standing friendship links with Vannes [in Brittany, France], Meschede [in the Sauerland of Germany] and Kiel [in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany] and now a particular focus on Dresden.

CAIF is concerned with remembering and keeping alive the history which has formed Coventry's commitment to twinning. For example in 2019 CAIF had set up or participated in the following events.

January February March April
  • Video call between Coventry City Councillors and the City of Volgograd Club of International Friendship.
  • Senza Nome (Polish Choir) 10th Anniversary Concert and Ball/Celebration.
  • Tree planting as a Memorial to our Chair’s (Councillor Ram Lakha) wife, Meto. Tree planted by Coventry-born, Mary Creagh, MP.
  • Financial support for disabled artist from Coventry, Lisa Gunn, to take part in an artist exchange exhibition in Dresden.
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Association talk in Coventry on The Indian Army Contribution during The First World War.
  • CAR (Coventry Against Racism) meeting to create a collaborative exchange of information.
  • CAIF International Prize for Young People presented by Lord Mayor of Coventry, Cllr. John Blundell.
  • CAIF Easter lunch.
  • Conference presentation on the 75th Anniversary of the Twin Cities Movement held at Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russian Cultural Centre, in London.
May June July August
  • Victory day ceremony at Imperial War Museum in Russia.
  • Video message greeting partner towns, cities, and groups.
  • Meeting new Serbian Ambassador at Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.
  • Talk by Bhovinder Nagra of The Sikh Union in Coventry.
  • “Condition Humaine”, exhibition by Coventry-Dresden Arts Exchange artists, John Yeadon, Lisa Dunn, Kerstin Franke-Gneuss and Monika Marten at Coventry Cathedral.Private View (“Vernissage”)
  • Support visit of Neuer Chor Dresden to take part in a concert with Coventry Spires Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.
  • Joint visit to Leipzig & Kiel with friends from Kiel in Schleswig-Holstein.
  • Coventry Diversity Forum at Broadstreet Meeting Hall.
  • Take part in Positive Images Information Fair in Broadgate, Coventry.
  • Host visit of Sylvia Kumichel (Deutsche-Britische Gesellschaft, Dresden) to Coventry.
  • Hiroshima Day commemoration in Coventry Cathedral.
  • Host a group of 16 friends from Vannes in Brittany.
September October November December
  • Skype call with Volgograd.
  • Visit of three artist/filmmakers and a dancer from Dresden in Germany, whose work has previously commemorated civic memorials in Saint Petersburg and Florence.
  • Social evening addressed by Rainer Barczaitis, visitor from Dresden.
  • “The Volunteers”, exhibition by Coventry-Dresden Arts Exchange artist in residence, Lucas Oertel, at Class Room, Lower Holyhead Road, Coventry (Monika, Dan, Rabee, Linda, Dave). Private View (“Vernissage”)
  • Visual Arts Roundtable at Coventry Transport Museum.
  • Meeting Associate Professor EJ Milne from Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations.
  • Meeting Dmitry Belov of The Stalingrad Foundation who visited Coventry for research purposes and attended CAIF meeting.
  • Conference on Twinning as part of Coventry Art Biennial at The Row Gallery.
  • “Academy of Success” and Voljanochka dance troupe visit from Volgograd. Discussion with Vladimir Shipulin with regard to future exchanges.
  • “1395 Days without Red” film by Anri Sala about the four-year siege of Sarajevo with artist present. Post show talk and Q&A.
  • Presentation at Coventry-Cork poetry exchange event at Royal Oak, Earlsdon.
  • New Volgograd Square Dedication Service reception at the Council House.
  • Interview on RT (Russian TV) on new Volgograd Square ceremony.
  • The Unknown Civilian, poetry collection, by Antony Owen launch, Chapel of Unity at Coventry Cathedral.
  • Coventry Peace Lecture 2019.
  • Coventry City of Culture 2021 Culture Conversation No.4 on Faith at Herbert art Gallery & Museum.
  • CAIF Christmas lunch.

This year CAIF is supporting a 2020 International Friendship Prize for Young People at School with over five schools in Coventry taking part. The theme is 'A 20:20 Vision for Peace' and the theme is explained below:

20/20 is a term used to express visual clarity or sharpness of vision. Having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean having perfect vision. Some people can see well at a distance but are unable to bring nearer objects into focus. Others can see items that are close but cannot see those far away. So, how can we have a 20:20 vision for peace which can bring it into focus, help us to see it when it’s near to us or grasp it from afar?

Entries can be written or visual format.


CAIF has close links with various other groups and associations:

  • Coventry Cathedral
  • Queen’s Road Baptist Church
  • Coventry-Dresden Arts Exchange
  • Positive Images
  • Coventry German Circle
  • The Rotary Club
  • Godiva Lions Club
  • Coventry Schools – notably, King Henry VIII, Cardinal Newman & Coundon Court
  • Coventry City of Culture 2021
  • Coventry Against Racism
  • Senza Noma Polish Choir

You can find out more about CAIF at their site or clicking on the logo above

But for uptodate news go to the Facebook group