Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fairtrade Campaign Day

It's not often that two of us from Eaglescliffe get ourselves up and out on a Saturday morning before 8 but today was one such occasion. Suzanne Fletcher and I had decided to forego a lie in so that we could go to Sheffield for a Fairtrade Foundation campaign day. The venue was Sheffield Hallam University, a Fairtrade university and a very good venue for such an event. A few minutes walk from the railway station, and very accessible.
At Darlington station we met up with Shabana from the Middlesbrough Fairtrade group so the journey down was spent discussing some of the things that might happen in Teesside. The day itself was crammed with opportunities for meeting other campaigners, workshop sessions to discuss all sorts of topics and presentations from various people. There was far too much to write about here. On the train home I typed up 3 pages of notes from the day to share with others in Stockton!
A few highlights here though:
70% of people in the UK now recognise the Fairtrade mark - better than many leading brand names!
In the 20 minutes of a presentation about the Co-op's involvement in the movement 400 children around the world died because of poverty - and you don't have to be a genius to realise that they didn't live in the developed world.
Fairtrade cotton clothes retailers have to be able to demonstrate that the whole of their supply chain is meeting certain minimum standards like freedom of association for the workforce, basic wages, no child labour before they're allowed to use the Fairtrade mark on the clothing. It doesn't mean that the supply chain is all fairtrade but it should mean that the workers are getting a basic minimum of rights. There's work ongoing on how to ensure that the manufacture of the garments is done with higher standards but that will take some time. The representative of one small clothing company described how she'd found this audit trail very educational as well as hard work.
There isn't nearly enough Fairtrade chocolate in this country. We heard via the wonders of the internet from two members of the Kapua Kokoo co-operative in Ghana who produce the cocoa beans for Divine Chocolate and the Co-op's own brand. Less than 10% of their production is sold on the Fairtrade market yet the premium from those sales is making a huge difference to the lives of the families involved - educating the children, empowering the women, providing clean water for all the families. At the end they had one question for us: "Are you buying our chocolate?" We need every newsagent and every petrol station mini-shop to offer Fairtrade Chocolate as one option - it's such good chocolate that once people taste it they'll buy more!
We heard about a campaigner who celebrated her 60th birthday by taking a giant Fairtrade banana on a bus tour of libraries, schools and shopping centres in her neighbourhood using her free bus pass. She generated loads of publicity locally!
And so the day went on - lots of inspiration and lots of ideas. The art now is to enthuse others before the buzz wears off!

1 comment:

Quail said...

I support Fairtrade locally by banding together with like-minded people and opening temporary Fairtrade shops in vacant, tenant-less units for 1-2 weeks. It might be something you could try locally. It create a Fairtrade buzz, the press seem to love writing about it and landlords like it when a gang of ladies show up with mops and transform a shabby shop into a potential home for a more permanent tenant.