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The fairandfunky Fairtrade Conference

What a day! It’s always one of our busiest events of the year and this year’s fairandfunky Fairtrade Conference didn’t disappoint, with 9 schools filling The Tolson Museum in Huddersfield with 100 delegates to take part in fun, innovative workshops from Rose Condo Poet, Suma Wholefoods, fairandfunky and everyone’s favourite Coeur de Xocolat! A huge thank you to Suma and to Stafflex for helping to fund the event – it wouldn’t happen without their support. And a thank you to The Tolson Museum for letting us take over the museum for a day, it’s such a great historic venue to host the conference.

Community is at the heart of everything we do so it is a real thrill to host our Fairtrade conference for local schools and see so many young people asking questions, getting involved, and being empowered to take little steps to change the world. We believe that as individuals we each have the power to make a positive difference in the world; through the way we act, what we wear, where we shop and what we do. Conference gives us the opportunity to share our passion and knowledge, to raise aspirations and awareness of global issues.

The first challenge at conference was to look closely at the Fairtrade mark: what does it represent? The green on the Fairtrade mark represents the land; where our food is grown, and products are made. The blue represents the sea and the sky; how our foods and products travel to us. The black is a person, the producer, with their hand raised. A reminder that there are people behind products we use and the food we eat. We are all connected, people and planet. The Fairtrade mark is a guarantee that producers have been paid a fair price for the work they do. The Fairtrade mark celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and from 3 Fairtrade products in 1994, to over 6000 products today, the workshops at conference explored the importance of Fairtrade in more detail.

With Coeur de Xocolat students discovered the world of cocoa production, understanding the role of farmers and using all of their senses to taste delicious chocolate. David is a world leading Chocolatier and his passion and understanding of the world of chocolate really comes across in a fantastic workshop loved by students and teachers alike.

“My students commented that they didn’t really know where chocolate comes from – they do now! “ Teacher feedback – Carlingow Academy

“It was so interesting learning about how the senses help me to taste.” Pupil feedback – Carlton Junior School

It’s always exciting when Suma join us as they bring their truck to conference and every one gets to sit in the lorry! “Which child doesn’t like to sit in the cab of a lorry?” Powered by renewable gas from food waste, we love that Suma lead by example showing that every part of the journey of products from farm to fork can be sustainable. Their workshop takes place both outside and in the transport gallery of the Tolson Museum, giving a fascinating insight in to how transport, and where we get our products from, has changed over the centuries.

Acrostic poetry with Rose Condo was great. All children were able to participate thanks to the fun use of language, creating poems and chants (with actions!) that were linked to Fairtrade. Children were encouraged to think about what Fairtrade means to them and to farmers, describing the impact they can make and articulate this through performance.

“A fantastic engaging workshop that helped to drive home the importance of Fairtrade.” Teacher Feedback – Lindley Infants School.

With fairandfunky delegates were invited to travel around the world to find out where our Fairtrade products come from. We talked about, and looked at, lots of unusual products, including footballs from Pakistan, raisins from Afghanistan, cotton from Mali and flowers from Ethiopia. Exploring where our products come from raises lots of interesting discussions. Each child then made their own vase of Fairtrade flowers from recycled materials to take home and continue the conversations.

“This was fun. I enjoyed creating my flowers and learning where different Fairtrade items come from.” Pupil feedback – Carlton Junior and Infant School.

After taking part in each of the four different Fairtrade workshops the conference closed with certificate presentations from Jason McCartney MP. He shared his experiences as a co-chair of the Fairtrade APPG in Parliament and how it was important to buy Fairtrade to support farmers across the world. We were proud to show our MP that there is an engaged community of young people passionate about making change.

We host our Fairtrade conference every year to find new ways to encourage curiosity, and to bring learning to life for young people. We are passionate about encouraging pupils and their teachers to learn together, and love that schools bring their Eco Team or School Councillors to conference meaning children of all ages are discovering all about Fairtrade. Thank you to each and every one of the young people who attended for taking your own little steps to change the world. See you in 2025!

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