Diocesan Fair Trade Day

   

 

On Friday 22nd February a group of us from church went to Manchester Cathedral to attend an event called ‘Changing the World through Fair Trade’.  

 

The programme consisted of talks from various keynote speakers involved in fair trade enterprise and entertainment by the Kadenza Women’s Choir, a group of singers from the Horwich area.

 After drinks and the opening welcome speeches from the Dean of the cathedral Dr. Rogers Govender, Bishop Mark of Bolton and two local councillors, there were talks from Tim Aldred of the Fair Trade Foundation and Matt Oliver from Traidcraft.  Each outlined the challenges faced by developing world producers such as cocoa farmers and growers of coffee, sugar, bananas etc. who often do not get a fair price for their produce, many living in very poor conditions. These people are mainly based in southern Asia, India, Central and South America, the West Indies and Africa.  

 

Tim explained that Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. The Foundation supports small scale farmers and workers who are marginalised from trade in a variety of ways and carefully monitors the impact of Fairtrade on these communities.

 

Matt then spoke about Traidcraft, which is the UK’s leading fair trade organisation and that they are dedicated to fighting poverty through trade. Their mission is to do this through trade, practising and promoting approaches to trade that help people in developing countries to transform their lives.  Their vision is of a world freed from the scandal of poverty, where trade is just, and people and communities can flourish. Their trading company, Traidcraft plc, sources products from farmers, growers and artisans across the world. At the heart of this are the relationships they develop with their trading partners, helping them to develop skills and build sustainable livelihoods through trade.  They also have a charity, Traidcraft Exchange, which is the only international development charity in the UK to focus on trade. They deliver projects across the developing world, helping people to build the skills, knowledge and confidence to work their way out of poverty.  Thirdly, their policy and campaigns team works to change unfair trade rules and company practices that affect people in developing countries, as well as raise awareness of injustices and build public support.  Matt also spoke of the challenges Traidcraft first faced in persuading UK retail outlets (shops, supermarkets) to sell Fair Trade products, particularly the Real Easter Egg which is made from Fair Trade chocolate and contains a booklet for children that tells the true story of Easter.

 

There was then a break for refreshments followed by a ‘Question and Answer’ session and the launch of a new Fair Trade chocolate bar specially designed for Manchester Diocese. Everyone received a free sample bar!  

 

After lunch we took part in various workshops including poetry, chocolate tasting and poster making, all enjoyed by everyone, and of course there were a number of stalls selling Fair Trade goods from socks, cards and jewellery to gifts and food items. 

 

We all found the event to be very encouraging and were inspired to extend our Fair Trade activities in church. We are currently taking orders for the Real Easter Egg and there are plans to have a Fair Trade stall in church on special occasions such as the Christmas Fair. This is yet another way we can reach out as Christians to help our brothers and sisters many thousands of miles away.

 

Jean Starkie

 

 


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