June 2013 Fairtrade News from Mole Valley (Leatherhead, Ashtead & Fetcham)
The Leatherhead Fairtrade Steering Group wish to share news of events in the last six months with our supporters and friends
Leatherhead Fairtrade Town Status
Thank you Leatherhead for continuing to support Fairtrade!
We submitted an application to the Fairtrade Foundation in December 2012 for the renewal of our status as a Fairtrade Town. We were delighted to receive the news that our application had been successful just before Christmas and have a certificate to prove it!
Our original certificate has been on display at the Help Shop, but the smaller premises in the Library have prompted us to seek a new home at Park House in Leatherhead.
Fairtrade Fortnight Feb/March 2013
This is the highpoint of the year for National awareness and for local events to promote and publicise Fairtrade. We were lucky to be able to welcome a Fairtrade Producer from Malawi to Leatherhead and Fetcham. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa and Henry Matenda is one of a group of sugar cane farmers who have established a large Fairtrade Co-operative. By working together instead of on small individual farms, they reap the benefits of economies of scale when negotiating a price for their sugar cane, knowing that the workers will get a fair and stable price. We also saw from Henry’s Power Point presentation the enormous changes that have been achieved in his community due to the Fair trade Premium. These benefits include better housing and schools, an electricity supply, and agricultural equipment and transport for the community. Our local Newspapers gave the visit good publicity.
NB. If you are ever tempted to think that buying Fairtrade goods doesn’t matter – Henry’s testimony demonstrates that Fairtrade really makes a difference!
Henry’s first presentation in Leatherhead was to Year 10 students at St Andrew’s School, Leatherhead’s first secondary School to achieve Fairtrade School status. Several Therfield students met Henry at BFree in the afternoon, so hopefully they were inspired to start campaigning for Fairtrade at school.
We would love to hear from anyone who has contact with Therfield and would like to know more about Fairtrade Schools. There is a lot of information on the Fairtrade Foundation website <www.fairtrade.org.uk>
Pupils at Polesden Lacey Infants School were in the news too, when they held a stall to sell Fairtrade goodies. The school is well on the way to satisfy the criteria for becoming a Fairtrade School and we wish them well.
Fairtrade news from Ashtead
The Fairtrade stall at St George’s church is thriving and had a good 2012.
One of the three greengrocers in the village sells Fairtrade chocolate – but they all find it hard to compete with the supermarkets on other Fairtrade products, including bananas.
The convenience store offers many of the Co-op’s Fairtrade products.
There are six cafes, of which one serves Fairtrade tea, another serves Fairtrade coffee, and a third sells Fairtrade chocolate. But the ‘star’ is the recently opened Bike Beans Cafe in Rectory Lane, run by Jamie Chisholm: not only is all the food and drink they serve Fairtrade as far as it is possible, but the emphasis is on eco-friendliness. Even the furniture is made with wood from recycled rubber trees. Cyclists are particularly welcomed – Jamie will sell you spares and clothing, and will even arrange to have your bike serviced, at a very reasonable rate. His motto is “Fuelling the revolution”, and he recently took part in a presentation to Transition Ashtead entitled “How can we make Ashtead cycle friendly?”
Fairtrade news from Bookham
At St Nicolas we marked Fairtrade fortnight 2013 by holding a Coffee Morning, and we were pleased to have raised £200 for the Fair Trade Foundation. We continue to have the stall up in church once a month. Polesden Lacey Infant School in South Bookham has become very involved with teaching about and promoting the Fairtrade movement. There was an article about their work in a recent Bookhams Bulletin by Headteacher Rosie Keedy – they held a special Fairtrade week with various activities and actions such as writing to their school fruit supplier asking that they only supply Fairtrade bananas in future.
Fairtrade news from Fetcham
Two years ago The Church of the Holy Spirit in Fetcham became a Fairtrade Church. Since that time we have usually had a sale of Fairtrade products once a month after Sunday morning Mass. This has been quite successful and on average raises approximately £100. Parishioners seem pleased to buy something from the stall. Our best selling products seem to be Divine chocolate bars, Fairtrade cookies, sugar, tea and washing up gloves.
As a Fairtrade Church we use Fairtrade tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits at our functions and advertise Fairtrade fortnight.
Our parish has recently been ‘conjoined’ to Our Lady of Sorrows in Effingham and we now share one Priest. It is hoped that we will soon have regular sales of Fairtrade goods at that end of the parish too.
There are many Fairtrade Towns in Surrey and a Fairtrade Action Group has been campaigning for a couple of years to get Fairtrade recognition for the County. Almost all the criteria are satisfied but we need a motion passed by Surrey County Council supporting Fairtrade and meeting certain conditions. All Councils are under financial pressure at present and so far we have not succeeded in getting enough members to table a motion.
Any pressure that you may be able to exert on your County Councillors to persuade them to ‘come off the fence’ on this issue would be welcome!
National News from Fairtrade Foundation
Leatherhead Fairtrade Steering Group was represented recently at a meeting at the Foundation’s offices in London. We were given an update on National campaigns and the good news that despite the economic situation in the UK sales of Fairtrade goods rose by 19% last year. This is largely due to several leading retail companies switching to using Fairtrade ingredients in their products. Have you spotted that Maltesers are now Fairtrade?
How many well known brand names can you spot in your local supermarket with the Fairtrade guarantee mark?
Guaranteeing Fairtrade cotton throughout its complex supply chain is difficult and the Foundation are currently exploring ways to get round the problem, so look out for a sign that clothing retailers in our High Streets are using Fairtrade cotton.
Can you help us?
Members of the Fairtrade Steering Group in Leatherhead are all involved in other ‘good causes’ locally as well as Fairtrade, and we don’t have the time or skills to promote Fairtrade locally as we would like. It is understandable to feel that our energies should be directed towards our own communities in times of austerity and undisputed need. However, we should remember that if we are buying less food and other goods, it is always the poorest in the developing world who will suffer the most.
We are looking for helpers who would be willing to take on a specific task for us – we won’t ask you to come to meetings – but we would like to consult you or ask you to take part in some way suited to you. Here are some suggestions!
1. Someone willing to liaise with our local schools
2. Someone with IT skills who could update our website occasionally
3. Someone who would like to organize an event in Fairtrade Fortnight 2014
4. Someone who would conduct a survey of Fairtrade in local businesses
Please get in touch with any of the following people if you would like to become involved. We would love to hear from you!
Sheila Hill firstname.lastname@example.org
and Hilary Porter, Dorothy Poulton, Janice Usher-Somers, Anne Marshall, Margaret Jones email@example.com
ABOUT LEATHERHEAD AND FAIRTRADE
Leatherhead is a historic town at the northern end of the valley cut by the river Mole through the North Downs. It has occupied a strategic position for hundreds of years as a crossing point on the North Downs
Way. Nowadays it commands a different strategic position on the M25 being midway between Heathrow and Gatwick as well as enjoying good commuter services to London or to the south coast.
This has attracted a number of national companies to make their office HQ in Leatherhead and there has been a corresponding rise in the population of Leatherhead and its satellite urban villages. There is a daily migration of workers commuting into Leatherhead, as well as a large number of residents who commute out of the area to work in London. This has resulted in the decline of the traditional shopping centre in the town, and instead it has a large number and variety of eating places but only one major supermarket within the town centre. This branch of Sainsburys is the main retailer of Fairtrade goods in the town.
These changes create challenges for Fairtrade in the area. Our Steering Group has been active for a number of years, and is linked to ‘Churches Together in Leatherhead’. The Group has a responsibility for awareness of social issues locally as well as maintaining Fairtrade progress in the Leatherhead area. Since Fairtrade Town Status was achieved in 2008 there have been a number of good developments including the first Fairtrade secondary school, two Co-op stores and a Co-op Garage, and various events in the Community where Fairtrade refreshments were served.
Links have been made with other groups to support the campaign to achieve Fairtrade County status in Surrey and a Fairtrade Craft Fair was held in Dorking last year to support that campaign. There have also been setbacks as our Fairtrade Café in Leatherhead Theatre had to close after a year in business, and the commitment by MVDC to serve Fairtrade refreshments at Council Meetings has been abandoned. The Steering Group is committed to renewing Fairtrade Town status but has struggled in the last year due to illness and a failure to recruit new members to the Steering Group.
Leatherhead achieved Fairtrade Town Status in 2008. We want to hear your plans and views on Fairtrade whether you represent the local Council, a Church, a School or other business or organisation so that these can be incorporated into our Action Plan.
Contact Sheila Hill, sheilajhill21 AT btinternet.com.