London parish hosts Green Fair

 The parish of Our Lady Help of Christians in Kentish Town, north London, held a Green Fair on Saturday, to celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi - Patron Saint of the Environment.

Hundreds of people attended the event, which included stalls from CAFOD and Westminster Justice and Peace, who brought exhibits and films on the impact of global warming on the developing world. Camden Council's Green Team did a brisk trade giving out freebies and advice on recycling, composting and energy saving. There were queues at the Fairtrade stall selling food and handicrafts, and at the Greenpeace exhibit where people were able to measure their carbon footprint. The Ramblers recruited several new members. Children, including a group from the local parish school, St Patrick's, took part in a competition to see who could make the most interesting things out of scrap materials. Several local shops contributed prizes to the raffle.*

The fair was opened by Frank Dobson, popular MP for Camden and St Pancras, who opened with a joke saying: "The Labour Party has always been good at promoting recycling. They just recycled Mandleson yesterday."

Dobson went on to speak about his commitment to green issues, and concern about the need to cut pollution levels and conserve power. He said he personally felt very strongly about the need for a high speed London orbital railway in order to take cars off London's roads.

"We can also do so many things locally," he said. "When I was head of the council we considered heat pumps. They were too expensive at the time but worth looking into. There are many other things that can be introduced. Wind turbines don't have to be on big farms. They could be set up in urban areas. We've also got to put more effort into insulating houses and flats."

He said: "The presence of CAFOD here reminds us that while we may be having problems, what is happening in the Third World - massive desertification and floods, is simply appalling. We have a responsibility to look at the impact of our life styles on people in the rest of the world."

Parish priest Tom Forde welcomed representatives from other local churches who attended the event, including Rev Diane Townsend from the United Reform Church, and Rev Sam McBratney from the Methodist Circuit.

The Green Fair was organised by the parish Climate Change group, which was formed about a year ago.

One of the organisers. Judy Dixey, said: "Our aim in holding this fair was threefold: Firstly we wanted to offer a space where people could come and learn about what is happening to the environment and why it is so important to act now. Then we wanted to offer practical advice and ideas for people to follow up. Finally we saw the fair as an exercise in building community."

Margaret Harvey, chair of our Justice and Peace group added: "We wanted to affirm our Church as a living centre in the community, where everyone is welcome and cared for. "

All profits from the day are being given to CAFOD's Haiti Appeal.

* The prize sponsors were : The Co-Op, Iceland, Phoenicia. and Earth Foods

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