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More than 4,000 products carry the Fairtrade logo (photo: Fairtrade Foundation).

Fairtrade meeting aims at local lift-off

The Fairtrade gathering at Azur this Wednesday at 7.30pm is aimed at providing lift-off for Hastings and St Leonards to become a Fairtrade Town. Nick Terdre previews the evening.

The principle of fairer returns to producers in the developing world to enable them to pull themselves out of poverty is no doubt as widely accepted in Hastings as elsewhere. But, in contrast to neighbours such as Bexhill-on-Sea, Rye, Lewes, Uckfield and Seaford, not to mention another 500 or so towns in the UK as a whole, we have yet to fulfil the conditions to become a Fairtrade Town.

There are high hopes that Wednesday’s gathering will provide the impetus to enable the five conditions for achieving this status to be met: the local council must be on board (it already is), retailers and catering companies must offer Fairtrade products, faith groups and schools must become involved, the concept must be promoted in the local media and a local committee must be formed to maintain the campaign.

All local councillors and MP Amber Rudd have been invited (the MP cannot attend, but will be represented), says Jack Doherty, chairman of the Bexhill Fairtrade Committee which, despite limited resources, has organised the meeting. Contact has also been made with a number of schools, churches and inter-faith groups, says Jack, but if you are involved in one of these, it would be worth checking if they are aware of the meeting.

The meeting will provide a prime opportunity for local Fairtrade supporters to make each other’s acquaintance and forge links. There will be group discussions on how to plan the way forward, followed by a report-back to a plenary session. Mayor Cllr Alan Roberts has been invited to present the conclusions.

Speakers

The meeting will kick off with short addresses from a number of speakers, including Anna Misterka, community campaigns officer at the Fairtrade Foundation, whose talk will include the results of commissioned research into the effectiveness of Fairtrade Towns.

Other speakers include Monica Norley, the founder of Visionary Soap  and Christine Ward, long-time local Fairtrade and Traidcraft activist. There will be words of welcome from Lord Brett McLean, a noted Fairtrade supporter and Stacey Lane, who has long campaigned for Fairtrade in Hastings and once worked for the Fairtrade Foundation, has also been invited to say a few words.

A number of organisations promoting the Fairtrade movement, including Traidcraft, Shared Interest, Visionary Soap and the Fairtrade Foundation itself, have booked stalls.

A message of support has come from the mayor of Bexhill, Cllr Frances Winterborn, who is unable to attend. “Fairtrade is committed to tackling poverty and injustice through trade,” she says. “We all know about tea and coffee, but there are many, many more items on the shopping list, e.g. flowers, clothes, home wares, fruits, chocolate, honey, sweets, wine, beer – over 4,000!

“The whole foundation makes it possible for farmers and producers to have a better standard of living. If Hastings and St Leonards is going to be a Fairtrade Town, they will be doing so much for the people who need their help; I wish them good luck in their endeavours.”

Fairtrade gathering: Azur Restaurant, St Leonards-on-Sea, Wednesday 13 November. Doors will be open from about 7pm and the meeting proper will start at 7.30pm.

Related HOT article : Is Hastings ready to become a Fairtrade Town?

 

Posted 18:52 Monday, Nov 11, 2013 In: Campaigns

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