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UK twinning links with towns, communities, schools and universities in Nicaragua

A twinning link is a means of encouraging mutual understanding and friendship between people, towns, and communities in different countries.

During the 1980s when the Sandinista government was in power and the Reagan administration was waging war against Nicaragua, thousands of people from around the world visited Nicaragua to show political and practical support for the Sandinista revolution. Deeply affected by the experience, many returned home committed to continuing their support for Nicaragua in whatever way appropriate according to their circumstances. Some chose to work locally by setting up twinning links with the towns and communities they had visited.

According to their local context UK twinning links with Nicaragua take many forms ranging from formal twinnings between local councils, to small informal groups raising funds for a particular community or project. In addition town twinning groups have facilitated direct links between universities and schools in the UK and Nicaragua.

Although most of the links were set up in the 1980s and early 1990s others are more recent, such as the Nicaragua Learning Exchange in Edinburgh founded in 2010. All UK towns with twinning links in Nicaragua undertake one or more of the following activities:

  • raising awareness and funds to support projects related to community development, health, education, and the environment
  • facilitating exchanges by organising delegations to Nicaragua, coordinating visits to the UK by partner organisations, organising student exchanges and setting up and supporting volunteer programmes
  • facilitating links, particularly between schools and universities
  • establishing and implementing development education programmes in local primary schools based on life in Nicaragua

Children in Puerto Morazan painting a mural of Bristol Children in Puerto Morazan painting a mural of Bristol

Bristol Link with Nicaragua

Twinned with Puerto Morazán

Email: cliveweston@yahoo.co.uk         alix.hughes@bristol.gov.uk
Tel:    01179537024
         07827896715 - Alix Hughes
FB: Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC)
Twitter: @Blincistas

Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC) was set up in 1985 to develop a link between Bristol and Puerto Morazán. BLINC aims to strengthen the ties between the two cities and to enable communities to benefit from cultural, educational and commercial exchanges. BLINC co-ordinates fundraising efforts to support solidarity, development, healthcare and education programmes in Puerto Morazán and enables volunteers to carry out projects in Puerto Morazán, such as teaching English, coaching sports, helping with the construction of schools and working against gender violence.

Friends of Morazán (under fives support charity)

FoM Development Worker (Bristol)
Peter Lambert
Email: mlspwl@bath.ac.uk

Friends of Morazán (FoM) builds on Bristol’s twin city relationship with Puerto Morazán. FoM aims to provide solidarity, financial aid and other humanitarian support for educational and health initiatives, to support Nicaraguans in their struggle to provide a higher standard of education and improve living conditions for all. FoM also raises awareness amongst the public in Bristol of cultural and social issues related to Nicaragua.

Bradford Nicaragua, The Tisma Project

Facebook: The Tisma Project and Viva Bradford

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/bradfordlag/

Donations: Just Giving – Tisma Project

Email: bradfordviva@gmail.com

Bradford's community link with the town of Tisma in Nicaragua in Central America is open to all. In Bradford we aim to encourage links between individuals, community groups, and organisations, and support a number of community projects in Tisma.

We wish to develop links of friendship and solidarity and to learn from the community's solutions to achieve social change and better conditions. The Tisma Project is part of the UK's Nicaragua Twin Towns network.

In Bradford we work within the Viva! group that brings visitors from Latin American social movements to the District. In Tisma our link is with Sheyla Aburto, community worker, and Omar Garcia, secondary school headteacher.

Facebook: The Tisma Project and Viva Bradford

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/bradfordlag/

Donations: Just Giving – Tisma Project

Email: bradfordviva@gmail.com

Teachers at Los Pollitos school Teachers at ‘Los Pollitos’ school

Islington Managua Friendship Association (IMFA)

Twinned with pre-school, Barrio Edgard Munguia, Managua)

Brian Mack
Tel: 020 72729916
Email: brianmack100@gmail.com
Website: www.imfa.org.uk
FB: Islington Managua Friendship Association
Twitter: @IMFAnews

The Islington Managua Friendship Association (IMFA) provides financial support and friendship to a school for nursery and primary age children in one of the poorest parts of Managua. Working with the parents, IMFA provided funds to build a classroom in 1990, since when more than £50,000 has been raised in the UK and sent to help the community to provide an education, in a safe environment for over 250 children. Most of the funds come from ‘Sponsor a Teacher’ standing orders, pub quizzes and other one-off events. IMFA pays the salaries of nine teachers as well as funding construction and maintenance.

Year 6 pupils at the 'Nicaraguan' market, selling  tortillas and other plant-based products they make during the Food for Thought project developed with the University of Leicester Botanic Garden. Year 6 pupils at the 'Nicaraguan' market, selling tortillas and other plant-based products they make during the Food for Thought project developed with the University of Leicester Botanic Garden.

Leicester Masaya Link Group

Claire Plumb
Tel: 0116 223 2272
Email: lmlg@leicestermasayalink.org.uk
Website: www.leicestermasayalink.org.uk
FB: Leicester Masaya Link Group

The Leicester Masaya Link Group (LMLG) has been an official local council link since it was established in 1987. Since then, the LMLG has worked to develop and maintain an exchange of contacts by co-ordinating projects aimed at enriching life in both cities. The two main objectives of LMLG are to work towards reducing poverty in the Masaya Region by facilitating partnerships for sustainable development and to raise awareness of global issues across all sectors of the community in Leicester, through projects in schools, youth projects, cultural exchanges and public events.

Maria Zunilda Perez Brigade (MZPB)

Link with Achuapa

Katharine Hoskyns
Tel: 020 7286 3483
E-mail : khoskyns@googlemail.com


The MZPB, based in London, has had thirty years of volunteering and a link with Juan Francisco Paz Silva Co-operative in the community of Achuapa in northern Nicaragua. The Group raises funds for rural development projects. Through their work the co-operative has a contract to supply the Body Shop with sesame oil. In addition Raleigh International organises young UK volunteers to work alongside Nicaraguans on sustainable development projects.www.raleighinternational.org.

Children at a NECAT-funded after school club in Leon. Credit: NECATChildren at a NECAT-funded after school club in Leon. Credit: NECAT

Nicaragua Education, Culture and Arts Trust (NECAT)

Martin Roger
Email: info@necat.org.uk
Website: www.necat.org.uk

FB: https://www.facebook.com/educacionculturayarte/

The Nicaragua Education Culture and Arts Trust (NECAT) supports educational initiatives in marginalised communities in and around the city of León by raising money in the UK and elsewhere through trusts and individual donations.

The two main objectives of NECAT are to advance education through culture and the arts and to reduce poverty. NECAT has as its focus an after-school club for children between the ages of 6 and 14 where the participants get individual attention from qualified teachers and opportunities to participate in cultural and folklore events. NECAT now has its own centre in the suburb of Guadalupe and has many visiting volunteers who support our work.

Norwich/Norfolk – El Viejo Link

Ralph Gayton
Tel: 01603 466 776
Email: ralph.gayton@ntlworld.com
Website: http://www.norwichelviejo.org.uk/

The link between Norwich/Norfolk and El Viejo in Nicaragua was set up in 1986 with the aim of providing friendship and support. The Link focuses on encouraging contact between individuals and groups in Norwich/ Norfolk and El Viejo, and supporting projects in El Viejo with a particular focus on education and public health. In Norwich/Norfolk the Link aims to raise awareness of the situation in Nicaragua in general and El Viejo in particular.

Oxford – León Association & Trust (OLAT)

Email: oxfordleonlink@gmail.com.
Website: www.oxleonlink.org.uk

Oxford has been twinned with León since 1986 with the aim of promoting and maintaining friendship between the citizens of the two cities. Most of OLAT’s work focuses on organising events and exchange visits and raising funds for community projects aimed at improving health, education and income generation.

Reading – San Francisco Libre Association & Trust (RSFLA)

Paul Starkey & Jon Roberts
Tel: 0118 987 2152 (Paul)
      01189265642 (Jon)
Email: p.h.starkey@reading.ac.uk
Website: www.sanfranciscolibre.org
Facebook: Reading San Francisco Libre Association

Reading has had links with San Francisco Libre and has been an official council twinning since 1994. RSFLA works in the local community to maintain awareness of and solidarity with Nicaragua. The Trust supports educational and environmental projects in San Francisco Libre, most recently a reforestation project to honour the memory of David Grimes, who helped to establish the RSFLA. The RSFLA’s local partner is APREDEN. Since 2012 RSFLA has collaborated with the volunteer team from Nicaraguaverein Oldenburg, a German town also twinned with San Francisco Libre.

Santa Rosa Fund (SRF)

Based in Tavistock, Devon, twinned with the Santa Rosa School in Managua)

Rick Blower & Martin Mowforth
Tel: 01392823646 (Rick); 01822617504 (Martin)
Email: r.blower@btinternet.com
Website: www.santarosafund.org
Twitter: Santarosafund

The Santa Rosa Fund was set up in 1988, initially as a school twinning link between Southway School (now closed) in Plymouth and the Ernesto Ché Guevara School in the Barrio Santa Rosa in Managua. It has since broadened its scope and supports a range of educational projects and initiatives in different parts of Nicaragua. It became a registered charity in 1993 (registered charity number 1028085) and its work and decisions are made by ten trustees. The charity depends on the work of volunteers and has no employees. It is noted for the high proportion of its funds that it sends out to the beneficiaries in Nicaragua – more than 90%. The Fund also organises volunteers to help with its partner organisations in Nicaragua.

The NEST Trust (Nicaragua Education & Sustainable Technology)

Maggie Jo St John 
Tel: 012684574999
Mob: 07807363659
Email: info@thenesttrust.org.uk
Website: www.thenesttrust.org.uk

In the noughties the NEST Trust connected volunteers with the English and Community Tourism project in UCA Miraflor, Esteli. This voluntary initiative, which ran from 2002 to 2010, printed two books of teaching materials which are available as a free download. Now the NEST Trust, in conjunction with Sustainability Partners, is supporting a group of recently graduated Nicaraguan teachers of English who have started the Esteli English Resource Centre.

Swindon Ocotal Link Association (SOLA)

Website: www.solswindon.co.uk

SOL (Swindon Ocotal Link) was set up in 1990. After 27 years of very successful twinning, which saw many projects completed, strong friendships forged, and lives changed in both Swindon and Ocotal, the decision has been taken by our own and our sister committee in Ocotal to bring to an end the charitable and fundraising status of the organisation. This has now become "SOLA", or the Swindon Ocotal Link Association. The aims of this group are to support locally run social, educational and health projects that assist the poorest and most vulnerable of Ocotal, Nicaragua.


Dancing the maypole Nicaraguan style: Son de America dance group in SheffieldDancing the maypole Nicaraguan style: Son de America dance group in Sheffield

Sheffield – Estelí Society

Tricia Sheerer
Email: tricia215@hotmail.co.uk sheffieldestelisociety@yahoo.co.uk
FB: Sheffieldestelisociety
Twitter: SheffieldEsteli

The Sheffield – Estelí Society (SES) was set up in 1987 and has supported water supply, sanitation, education and environmental projects in the northern Nicaragua town of Esteli. SES works directly with local people and community groups, which ensures the support of projects that benefit the poorest people. It is also part of a network of four European cities twinned with Estelí (Bielefeld, San Feliu de Llobregat and Delft). In addition to fund-raising events, such as the annual cycle ride called ‘Twin Peaks Bike Ride’, SES organises education work in Sheffield. There will be a delegation to Nicaragua in November, 2018.

Students for Estelí Society (University of Sheffield)

Email: studentsforesteli@sheffield.ac.uk

Website: https://studentsforesteli.wordpress.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/studentsforesteli/

Students for Estelí is a student-run society at Sheffield University to promote twinning between Sheffield and Estelí. Each year it organises a student brigade to Estelí for a 5-week cultural exchange with FAREM University. The students stay with local families, whilst giving English classes at the university and sharing cultures through workshops including muralism, dance, music and sport, as well as exploring the surrounding area. Students for Estelí also runs events in Sheffield, including an ‘Esteli week’ and works closely with the Sheffield Estelí Society to support their events, and run joint events and projects.