Churches across Wales will be focussing on “Fair Trade” next week and highlighting the need for justice in the global food market.
Sunday, February 23, is being set aside to encourage people to choose Fair Trade products where possible and to think more carefully about how food is produced.
It is part of the Church’s bid to become a Fair Trade Province, which means 70% of its churches commit to using Fair Trade tea, coffee and other products where they can and to learning more about Fair Trade issues. The accreditation body for this initiative is Fair Trade Wales and so far more than 40% of churches have signed up.
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, said, “Lots of us enjoy a cup of tea or coffee after a church service and at other times but we need to drink them responsibly. These days we are made aware of the high cost many producers have to pay in order for us to enjoy our cuppa. Fortunately, however, thanks to the Fair Trade movement, we have the option to choose products that have been produced without people being exploited or being made to work in dangerous or unprotected conditions. By supporting Fair Trade, we have the chance to help promote equality and justice in food production across the globe. Look out for the Fair Trade mark when you shop, and do your bit for fairness”
Revd Carol Wardman, the Bishops’ Adviser for Church and Society added, “Many people would have first come across Fair Trade products at church – we were promoting them many years before they started to sell at supermarkets. Now we want to go one step further and lead the way again by committing ourselves to becoming a Fair Trade Province. This Sunday, which is at the start of Fair Trade Fortnight, churches will be using special prayers and themed services to focus on Fair Trade issues. We hope all our churches will get involved, and show that we are a church of love in action.”
RUTH PRINCE - Fair Trade Champion, Usk
Local churches can make a huge difference to people in poorer countries by supporting fair trade, says one parishioner who runs a stall laden with products at a farmers’ market.
As a Fair Trade Champion for the Church in Wales, Ruth Prince is urging more churches to use Fair Trade products, such as tea and coffee, and celebrate Fair Trade Sunday.
Ruth, a parishioner at St Cybi’s Church, Llangybi, has been selling Fair Trade products for eight years in Usk and is a regular at the fortnightly farmers’ market and at the Silver Screen community cinema.
Ruth says, “Local churches and parishioners can make a real difference in supporting fair trade and that’s the point of the Church in Wales’ bid to become a Fair Trade Province . Just by using fair trade tea, or coffee or sugar at church events (with the jar or packet prominent preferably!) it lends the church’s moral authority to the movement. But also, by raising awareness in a very practical way, we can show that we are helping people in poorer countries. This isn’t charity or being patronising, it’s giving producers and farmers in developing countries the dignity of a proper reward for their labour.
“By including producers and farmer s in the developing world in our worship and intercessions in church, we’re supporting them through faith, as well as demonstrating Jesus’ teaching to look after one another.”
Ruth is delighted by the way Fair Trade products are increasingly available to shoppers.
“When I started Fair Trade was more or less limited to Oxfam shops and people like Traidcraft sellers. Since then, Fair Trade generally has gone in leaps and bounds. Most of the major supermarkets now have at least some Fair Trade goods. And most people are now familiar with the Fair Trade logo and the fact that it means farmers and producers involved in the scheme receive at least a guaranteed minimum price to cover the cost of sustainable production.
“However, there are still people who confuse the Fair Trade mark with a brand. There are , of course, lots of different brands carrying the Fair Trade mark. Back in 1994 when it started, there was just one brand of Fair Trade coffee, one of tea, and one chocolate. Nowadays if you don’t like the taste of, say, Sainsbury’s Fair Trade coffee, you can try one of Café Direct’s, or Clipper or Marks and Spencer’s .
“But you still hear people say, ‘I tried that Fair Trade coffee when it came in and I didn’t like it’. That was 20 years ago! Today there’s a very wide choice of brands doing Fair Trade versions, some of them have won Good Taste Awards. And there are more than 4,500 different products with FT certification.”
Unlike many small retailers, Ruth’s aim is for shops and supermarkets to put her out of business eventually. And the power to do that, she believes, lies with each of us.
“My aim is to be phased out!” she says. “I want Fair Trade goods to be so mainstream, so normal that they’re available everywhere, from corner shops, SPARs to the biggest supermarkets. I did this originally in particular because people found Fair Trade rather expensive. Now that the supermarkets are on board, a lot of Fair Trade things cost no more than their non-Fair Trade equivalent.
“But as always it’s the customers who have the power. The power of pester! If shops know that’s what they want, they’ll stock it. So it’s up to us to ask for it where we don’t see it.”
- Usk Fair Trade Group is holding a Fair Trade Coffee Morning on Thursday February 27th (10am to 12noon) at the Centenary Hall, Maryport St., Usk with Fair Trade Goods, Crafts and Cakes for sale. Admission is £3 to include coffee/tea and cake. Proceeds are in aid of Tearfund and Practical Action
CASE STUDY 2
DERRICK STEPHENSON, Llandaff Cathedral
Derrick Stephenson sells Fair Trade products following the Sunday morning parish service at Llandaff Cathedral when people gather to chat over coffee. He collects stock from a Fair Trade shop in Cardiff, called Fair Do’s, and returns money made to them.
He says, “I took over the stall about three-and-a-half years. I thought it sounded interesting to learn about the different parts of the world where the products are made, or grown. It’s also interesting to meet different people who attend the family service.
“Churches are influential on what we learn, and how we behave. Through our involvement we all can make an impact and show we care. It also helps to remind us how fortunate we are. And it’s nice to think that we are able to contribute and help the people that are making or selling their goods through Fair Trade.
“Younger and older visitors seem to enjoy seeing the variety of food and hand-made items on display. There are some regular customers who have purchased items and repeatedly ask for the same items.”
Prayers and readings for Fair Trade Sunday and information on how to become a Fair Trade parish are available online at: www.churchinwales.org.uk