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Meet fairandfunky and friends! (blog #2)

Welcome to our new series of blogs: Meet fairandfunky and friends! Each week we’ll introduce people who we work with and who inspire us, asking them to share little bits of information about themselves and how they take little steps to change the world. It’s seems right to start the blog series off by introducing ourselves! For those of you that don’t know fairandfunky was established in 2012 by us: Helen and Sophie. We met when we worked on a project for Holmfirth Arts Festival when we put 5 pianos in the streets of Holmfirth! All decorated on global themes: Fairtrade, recycling and the environment. We loved working together and inspiring people to look at the world around them a little differently……fairandfunky was born. But who are we and what brought us here? Last week we met Sophie (click here to read her blog) and now it’s time to meet Helen:

Who are you, where are you from and what do you do? Born and bred in Holmfirth, I happily ended up back here after university in Salford, and working in Kenya. At the former I completed a degree in Environmental Science followed by a Primary PGCE with a science and environment specialism at Bretton College. I headed to Kenya to work as a teacher in a rural secondary school and that experience had a huge impact on me. Since then I have worked in numerous primary schools across Kirklees and am Mum to three grown up children.

Now, I run fairandfunky with the mighty Sophie Root, but I also picked up a paintbrush in lockdown to bring solace to my treatment for lobular breast cancer, so now also have my own little business as ‘helenrobinsonart’, selling limited edition prints, cards and colouring books inspired by my walks around the Holme Valley.

What makes you a fairandfunky friend? fairandfunky runs creative workshops on Fairtrade, recycling, and the environment. And these three things have always been huge passions of mine. From running ‘Green Action Groups’ as a teenager, to more recently setting up the Holme Valley Fairtrade Support Group and with them instigating the Fairtrade APPG in Parliament. Although I am a fan of recycling, it annoys me that we have all been greenwashed into thinking that recycling is the answer when dealing with waste. Recycling is the LAST thing we should be doing, reducing the amount of waste we use is paramount. My obsession with ways to re-use, re-think, re-purpose, re-imagine, and re-store is what makes me a fairandfunky friend.

What little steps do you take to change the world? Taking little steps to change the world isn’t just down to individuals – businesses, shops, government, multi-cooperations all need to make change too. We can’t do everything, but each one of us can do something. Never underestimate the power of YOU.  It is the total of all our individual actions that make a big difference. I shop ethically, I drink Fairtrade tea and coffee, I boycott shops and businesses that don’t fit with my ethics, I never shop on Amazon, I have my milk delivered, I use recycled paper, I hoard everything for potential re-using, I always carry a re-usable coffee cup and I write to my MP to try and make change.

Who influences or inspires you? And why? Strong, powerful women inspire me. And I’m lucky to be surrounded by many inspirational women who face challenges head on to make a difference. My friend Cath is a dynamic force, working tirelessly to campaign against FGM in Northern Kenya; my friend Monica dedicates time and care to women across Africa, teaching them how to make soap and set up their own social enterprises. I’m inspired by people who take time to think about the world around them and live thinking of, and acting for, others.

I’m also inspired by the world we live in, most notably wildflowers. I love how they emerge in the most desolate of places and bloom bright. No matter what the weather throws at them they still grow strong. I admire their defiance, their tenacity, and their resilience.

How do YOU inspire others to take little steps to change the world? I hope that by being honest about the challenges we face and being open to discussion I can inspire others to take little steps to change the world. It’s important to me to be real. If I say I support Fairtrade and the environment then my everyday actions HAVE to reflect that. I like to show that doing the simple little things really do make a difference. And I hope that fairandfunky does that too.

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