Fairtrade, Churches and Community Groups

Many churches and voluntary organisations played a large part in setting up the Chelmsford City Fairtrade Campaign and now have the potential to make a real difference to the lives of thousands of producers in poor communities.

There are many, many farmers eager to enter the Fairtrade market but unfortunately there aren’t enough customers to buy their produce. So Fairtrade tea growers may find that only a small proportion of their crop gets the Fairtrade price and Social Premium. The rest has to go to auction with tea that is produced without any ethical conditions and may involve blatant exploitation. The same is true for coffee and other Fairtrade products.

It is very difficult to put pressure on local supermarkets as local managers do not usually have any power over which products they stock. It is all decided centrally rather than here in Chelmsford.

However, local churches more or less always use coffee, tea and sugar for their refreshments and usually have a free hand in deciding what brands to buy. If only every church in Chelmsford made a conscious decision to buy Fairtrade coffee, tea and sugar, this would increase the volume of Fairtrade sales and generate increased income and Social Premiums for the Fairtrade farmers. It is a very simple but effective way of putting Christian love into action and sending a message of love across the world to the unseen strangers who grow our food and depend on us for their living.

The Fairtrade Foundation website contains details of how to become a Fairtrade church which is a win-win situation as it is also part of the conditions for becoming an eco-church since Fairtrade is closely linked with protecting the environment. After all, the producers have a vested interest in looking after the land they depend on. (see Fairtrade and Climate Change).

Some churches may even wish to have a regular or occasional Fairtrade stall selling Fairtrade foods which are not readily available on the High St.

We welcome churches to join the Chelmsford City Fairtrade Campaign as community members. This costs a minimum of £5 a year and ensures that you will receive regular newsletters about Fairtrade.

In the same way voluntary groups can make a difference to the lives of Fairtrade farmers by always using Fairtrade coffee, tea and sugar and are also welcome to join the Campaign.

The Soroptimists have actually gone one step further in their support and have sold Fairtrade chocolate on a sale or return basis at their AGM each year generating considerable sales and supporting the cocoa farmers who supply Divine chocolate.

If any group would like to have a talk about Fairtrade or to run a Fairtrade stall on a sale or return basis then please contact Gill Parker on gill.parker@sky.com

%d bloggers like this: