About Us

The story of the IFL

The International Friendship League was founded in 1931 in the belief that the most effective way to increase international understanding is the development of personal friendships between individuals of different countries.

The IFL is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation which aims to enhance understanding and friendship between people of all nations. Membership is open to anyone who supports our aims and objectives, whatever their race, religion or political views. The IFL is completely independent of any national government and is run entirely by its members. Its aim is to break down the barriers of prejudice and intolerance which to a varying extent exist in most societies. For the ordinary man or woman who wants to do something for peace and international understanding the IFL offers an open door.

In 1931 Noel Ede, having experienced the Great War brought about by the rivalries within Europe, was looking for a way of replacing old enmities with friendship and peace between the European nations. To this end he invited thirty students from Berlin University to visit him in Peacehaven, his home on the south coast of England, to meet and work with British students. From this modest beginning he got together a group of like-minded friends to form an association which would enable young people from various European countries to meet one another and develop a mutual understanding of each other’s way of life. And so the International Friendship League was born.

Noel Ede travelled tirelessly and succeeded in establishing IFL Friendship Centres around the UK and in many European countries. Sadly there was to be another World War, but when this ended the IFL continued to expand its activities and its membership.P1000038

Noel Ede died in 1960; he would have been delighted to know that the organisation he started continues to flourish. The IFL International Assembly is held each year in a different country and is followed by a holiday week which allows members to get to know the country and its people. Since the Millennium we have visited England and Wales, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Seychelles, Spain and Sweden, and in 2014 the IA was held in Uganda. An interesting development in recent years has been the creation of several groups in Africa and, most recently, in India.

As we look ahead the need for greater understanding and a spirit of peaceful friendship between nations is as great as it was when, in 1931, Noel Ede sowed the seeds of friendship from which the organisation grew. The International Friendship League continues to have a very important role to play in the modern world.

Read more about us in What We Do