Learning a fairer trade

IF you hear the word Fairtrade most people might automatically think of coffee or bananas with a blue and green logo on them.

But it’s more about adopting a new way of thinking about what we buy and the power we have in our purse to make a difference.

Gainsborough has been a Fairtrade town for three years, largely thanks to the campaigning efforts of the Social Justice Action Group, whose members have reapplied for the status to continue.

Group member Ann Lewis, of Greystones Road, said: “There are five targets to meet to become a Fairtrade town.”

“We’ve had to identify who uses Fairtrade products in the town, like cafes, churches and schools, and who stocks them, like shops.”

“One of our members hand delivered 300 letters to businesses all over Gainsborough to find out if they use Fairtrade things and we’ve had to go into the big supermarkets and see what they stock on the shelves.”

“One of the best shops we’ve found for the amount of Fairtrade products is Morton Co-op.”

One of the other requirements is that the council must agree to promote Fairtrade and to use Fairtrade refreshments at all its events.

The Social Justice Action Group started as a Gainsborough bible study group in 1999, when members used to meet at each other’s houses.

“We started discussing the environment and people’s response to looking after it and then we got talking about what we could do about different issues,” said Ann, whose husband Roy is also a member of the group.

“The first thing we got involved in supporting was the Drop the Debt campaign to have the Third World debt cancelled. We wrote letters and had services at different churches, and we used to put chains around the church to show how these people were chained to their debt.”

Their work now is largely taken up with promoting Fairtrade, although they also collect food parcels for the Nomad Trust in Lincoln which helps homeless people.

Fairtrade Fortnight began on Monday of this week and will continue until 11th March.

The Social Justice Action Group, which has 12 members, will have a stall at the Lindsey Centre this Saturday from 9am to 3pm.

Their campaign has been spearheaded by member May Greenaway, of Lea, who has previously organised Fairtrade events at Richmond Park and Gainsborough Old Hall.

Roy said: “At the Old Hall we called it LOAF day, Local Organic Apple Fairtrade. We invited people to bring their apples along to be made into juice.”

They also hired the cinema and showed a film called Black Gold, about impoverished Ethiopian coffee farmers.

“Fairtrade is about paying a fair price so that the farmers earn a proper amount,” said Ann.

“Most of them want to spend it on education for their children or to buy medical things.”

The Fairtrade Fortnight theme this year is Take One Step, the idea being that by changing just one thing we buy we can make a difference to the lives of the people who produce it.

*The group meets at the United Reformed Church. To join call Ann on 01427 613952.

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