Fair Trade - Bananas and Coffee?
Werrington Fair Trade Group is composed of 9 members of St John's with Emmanuel Church in Werrington. We started 3 years ago with the aim of raising the profile of Fairtrade both in the church and the community. St John's with Emmanuel was already a Fairtrade Church but in practice that really only extended to serving Fairtrade tea and coffee after services and several of us felt that there was a lot more that we could be doing.
We started in a small way, with a stall once a month after the morning service at each church, selling Traidcraft foods and handmade cards from Rwanda. Several people in church supported us financially with donations or loans to enable us to buy stock to start with and we are very grateful for all the support we've had from our church and community. We also had a lot of help from local Traidcraft Key Contact Maggie Noble in Castor and from Just Sharing, a lovely Fairtrade shop in St Ives who allowed us to have goods on sale or return.
Over the past 3 years God has really blessed our work and we have been able to expand our activity and our range of goods - and repay our loans! Now, as well as continuing our monthly sales at church, we also hold two large events each year, one in the summer and one before Christmas, and have stalls at community events, school fairs, and at the moment are supplying Fairtrade refreshments to the café at Flag Fen.
In addition to Traidcraft and Cards from Africa we also now stock Created (formerly Tearcraft) jewellery and crafts and Kazuri jewellery, and also sell goods from many other producers around the world. Our primary aim is to encourage awareness and support of Fairtrade as we believe that Fairtrade is a practical demonstration of God's calling to us to strive for justice in the world and to protect the poor and vulnerable. We also want to show people that Fairtrade isn't just 'bananas and coffee' but includes a wide range of high quality crafts and food and drink.
Of course, most people think of Fairtrade as meaning the producers receive a fair price for their goods. But Fairtrade has benefits for us as well. Modern shopping habits have meant that the link between producer and consumer has largely disappeared. One of the joys of working with Fairtrade is that that link is restored. Customers can know the background to what they buy and we can know that what we sell directly benefits the producer - for instance we know that every 12 cards we sell has created a day's employment for a young Rwandan person. That has to be better than an anonymous purchase from a large chain any day!
If your church isn't already involved with Fair Trade, we'd like to encourage you to make a start. You'll be glad you did - and more importantly so will many people you may never meet - the producers and craftspeople on the other side of the world.