From our President
In Cornwall, we are a group of about 38 people, many of whom are retired, from a wide range of backgrounds. We all live within about 30 miles of Truro and we all share a common interest in learning about other countries and their ways of life by having people to stay with us from these countries and visiting other countries ourselves. Our emphasis is on sharing the lives of those who stay with us or whom we visit and each homestay is limited to one week. In some years we will make two such stays, usually with a few days self- arranged extension in between and in other years maybe only one homestay. When we apply for these homestays, we also agree to host for a similar number of weeks in that year. Most of us have been on package or even independently arranged holidays to other parts of the world, but the experience of actually staying with the local people in their homes and, very often developing lasting friendships, is greatly superior to that of any “normal” holiday. Seeing the local sights is always part of our trips, but being shown them by the locals and experiencing their ways of life is so much more memorable.
Each traveller pays a fee to cover some of the activities organised by the host clubs, but almost all food and accommodation whilst with the hosts is provided by them. We do the same when people come here so the costs of this tend to balance out. The vast majority of members of the clubs understand what it is like to have people staying in their homes and are determined to enjoy whatever conditions they find. In practice, most overseas members are somewhat western orientated and may speak English. Therefore friendly relationships develop very quickly and there are very few problems. All this means that our members can travel with those whom they have got to know here first, at costs which are probably significantly lower than they would pay for a normal trip and with a much more rewarding experience. We are a club and none of us is paid, so all members are expected to participate in some aspects of organisation, but we all aim to help each other. For example, one of our most popular and enjoyable evenings with visitors is when one of our members teaches them how to make genuine Cornish pasties in her kitchen.
What is almost impossible to put into words is the strength of the welcome we received and the lengths people went to to ensure that we felt really at home whilst with them. We always come home determined to do even better when we have visitors to Cornwall if we are to emulate the warmth that we have experienced. Having people to stay, even with the cost of feeding them and driving them around for a day or so is a very cost-effective way of having a foreign experience without all the hassle and cost of travelling oneself!
As a member of any of the five Friendship Force clubs in the UK, you would be entitled to apply to take part in any journey organised by another club. However, selection is not automatic and the President of your local club will be asked for a reference to ensure that you are likely to fit in with other travellers. Once the details of the outgoing journeys in the next year are known, you will find a link to basic information on this website by going to the Journeys page.
In our experience, the most successful journeys are when the members going abroad or coming to us have already developed close links within their group. Accordingly, we hold a number of social functions throughout the year and many of these are organised so that potential new members can meet and talk to us, as well as enjoy the events themselves. If you feel that what I have tried to outline above could be of interest to you, please do make contact via this website and we will try to do our best to answer your questions by e-mail, phone or face-to-face as you prefer. We look forward to hearing from you!