Letter: Fair Trade Fortnight

It's that time of year again! Fairtrade Fortnight starts at the end of this month. See links at the end of the page for resources if you haven't had a chance to order yet.

Like me, I am sure you share my disappointment in the huge reduction in the number of Fairtrade goods stocked in the supermarkets now. Many people still think that they are a good source of FT goods but unfortunately they are not.

Even the Coop, which has a commitment to Fairtrade has reduced its FT stock drastically in our local stores. It may be different in yours, if you have one near you.

Sadly, Coventry is no longer a Fairtrade City, having lost its status when the Steering Group was unable to continue due to other demands on those who ran it for years.

I suspect the Council has not even noticed!

We have also lost our main Fairtrade Shop and so have fewer places that stock a bit more than the basic tea and coffee in the supermarkets.

Oxfam in Coventry City (which stocks the catering tins of coffee), Earlsdon Methodist Church and Down to Earth Organics in Earlsdon are the few stockists I am aware of.

As someone committed to Fairtrade or a member of a Fairtrade Venue I'd like to suggest that we try to renew our commitment in any way that we are able.

Fairtrade Fortnight gives us a good opportunity to do this.

As in the past I offer the following suggestions that you might consider:

Please buy and use FT goods yourself when possible and encourage others to do so.
Order FTFN resources and put up posters in your church, church café, faith centre, school, workplace.
In churches, use Lent as an opportunity to suggest a commitment to Fairtrade.
Plan a Fairtrade event - whatever is possible - coffee morning, afternoon tea with FT goods and maybe Fairtrade cake. It does not have to be elaborate but enough to draw attention to the issues and products.

If you are a Fairtrade church, faith centre or venue - check on the present situation:

Is there a poster up to announce that you are a Fairtrade Venue?
Do people know what this means and why it is important?
Do you serve FT tea/coffee/sugar etc at events and have a little notice to say it is FT?
Do you encourage those who hire your premises to use FT and explain why?
Can you renew your commitment to FT and ensure it is followed up through the year?
Can you use a short time to explain FT to others in your congregations, communities, schools, youth club, brownies, scouts etc?

As individuals and members of groups we can go back to sending in the supermarket comment cards, asking for more Fairtrade.

Last year the Heart of England Coop in Coventry did absolutely nothing to show it was FTFN. My letter about this was responded to with a facile comment. I have written again now to ask what they are doing this year.

After years of us all working really hard on this it seems that once the pressure is off, the commitment does not show itself in reality in the stores.

So many producers are exploited and deprived of basic needs and we live at their expense.

Thank you and very best wishes for all you do to ensure that the poorest people who produce what we eat, drink and use are paid and treated fairly.


See the campaign to stop Sainsbury's dropping Fairtrade here: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Fairtrade

Ann Farr


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