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Fairtrade Towns Bring People Together and Change The World – Fairtrade Fortnight Blog

We asked “How do you Go Further for Fairtrade and Change The World?” This is the chair of Kirklees Fairtrade; Julie Stewart-Turner’s response:

 

I suppose like many I don’t see myself as doing anything unique or special.  I think I am very lucky to Chair the Kirklees Fairtrade Forum, because they are a team of amazing people, lots of knowledge, talent, positive energy, and great generosity – they make me look good.

 

I’ve led the Fairtrade Town campaign for Huddersfield and Kirklees since late 2008, and I’m very proud that we were successful in gaining Fairtrade status for the wider Huddersfield area, which has enabled us to gain Fairtrade status for the borough of Kirklees.  However, it wasn’t a hard sell; there are many people across Kirklees keen to support the campaign.

 

The Fairtrade Town movement is very much a grass roots campaign, and requires involvement from the whole community.  The Fairtrade Foundation action guide states ‘Fairtrade Towns bring people together and increase understanding of how small actions add up to make a big difference to the lives of people thousands of miles away.’

 

To be accredited as being a Fairtrade Town by the Fairtrade Foundation, we needed to achieve 5 rather challenging goals:

 

Firstly, we needed to have a resolution passed by Kirklees Council, which we did with full support from all Councillors.  Kirklees Council continue to set a positive example; Fairtrade principles are embedded in procurement policies, and supports the Kirklees Fairtrade forum with admin support, provides us with a schools liaison Officer, supports community groups to include Fairtrade in their events, and more.

 

Other goals included the need to research and evidence that an appropriate percentage of retail and catering outlets offer a Fairtrade option, gain support from a wide range of organisations e.g. places of worship, schools, community groups, business, leisure, etc.  Secure support from a flagship employer, and form a steering group with a good cross section of representatives.

 

We achieved all this, but gaining Fairtrade status is just the start.  We need to evidence ongoing activity for re-accreditation every two years, but with everyone being under lots of pressure, we need to make sure that activity is manageable and sustainable.

 

We agreed to create an informal Kirklees wide network to enable us to share information, learn from each other, share resources, and provide support to each other; we call this the Kirklees Fairtrade Forum.  We meet every couple of months, and the minutes become a central record of activity from across Kirklees.  With the support of Kirklees Council, we have a central database where in addition to the minutes we store photos, news articles and general feedback about activity from all the partners on the Kirklees network.  It’s also terrific to see that the network is growing; people from different areas are joining the campaign.

 

Going forward, we have support from Kirklees Markets who put on Fairtrade activities each year during Fairtrade fortnight.  When we started we had just one school with Fairtrade status, now there are four and others working towards it.  We are looking to introduce a summer activity with the support of Huddersfield businesses.  The Chamber of Commerce are developing an online directory to help people source Fairtrade products.  All the partners across Kirklees are busy organising talks, coffee mornings, tea dances, workshops, shows, and much more – it’s looking very good.

 

The most important thing about the campaign is that it is about changing consumer habits, and helping to ensure that the people who grow the basic produce we’ve grown accustomed to have a fair wage and decent conditions to work and live in.  As well as being the moral thing to do, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure a sustainable market for food and other essential natural products.  I’m proud to say that even in difficult financial times; Kirklees citizens’ commitment to a Fairer world is strong.

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