The twin cities of Leeds and Lille have a long and involved history following their twinning.
Lille’s partnership with Leeds dates back to 1968 when a twinning charter was signed, with relations between the two universities set in place before the war. Since then the number and nature of the links have multiplied and there is continual contact between academics, young people and businesses in both countries.
The two cities have worked together on various youth and education projects. French students have participated annually in the Breeze International Youth Festival held in Leeds, and young people in Leeds are also offered the opportunity to become involved in youth activities in Lille. These have included the annual Hellemmes international youth football tournament and an international artistic residency. Partnerships with the Lille schools take many forms, including joint curriculum work, pupil and teacher exchanges and the mutual development of foreign language skills.
For older people Age Concern Leeds has a partnership with a similar charity in Lille called Carrami. The partnership has been in existence since 1987. Age Concern Leeds organises free weekly French classes for older people and includes an older persons exchange each year with Carrami. This year a group of older people from Carrami will visit Leeds.
Lille and Leeds are currently planning to share good practice through a joint city region project. In 2009 officers from Lille came to Leeds to discuss sharing good practice in city centre management and this year there will be a study visit to the Lille M�tropole region to share best practices in urban regeneration, explore city region collaboration and partnership.
Cultural links have been maintained through many projects such as those commemorating their joint history within Europe, examining the role of the veteran in society, raising young people’s awareness of the history of World War II and jointly commemorating Remembrance Day both in Leeds and in Lille.