SAFT Annual Report and Conference 2020

The fifth annual conference of the Suffolk Association of Fairtrade Towns, SAFT, was held on Saturday 11 July. Prior to the meeting an annual report was prepared and circulated setting out some of the highlights of SAFT activities, and those of its constituent members, during the past year.  An edited version of this is reproduced below. The conference itself was held via Zoom due to current restrictions on physical gatherings. About thirty activists from Fairtrade towns across Suffolk were able to log on to hear presentations by Mike Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, and Patrick Kaberia, from Kenya, who is the Patron of SAFT.  An edited version of the conference will be made available via the website in due course. 

Conference Report
After some brief introductory remarks, chairman, Richard Stainer, introduced Mike who said he was proud to be a resident of a county where there was so much activity in support of Fairtrade. 

He first addressed the impact of Covid-19 on farmers and workers in the developing world.  Apart from the direct health aspects there were some devastating economic consequences.  The collapse of the market in flowers was one example.  Fairtrade producers were, however, generally in a better position to withstand the effects of the pandemic because of cash reserves built up from Fairtrade premium payments. Fairtrade communities mostly had access to running water too which is important for maintaining hygiene standards and better health care provision.

Mike praised Fairtrade’s commercial partners, particularly the Co-op, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer who had provided extra financial help during the crisis.

On the positive front, 2019 had been a good year for Fairtrade.  Thanks partly to campaigning by the Fairtrade Foundation, cocoa consumption had increased by 23% with the Co-op. Waitrose and John Lewis agreeing to use only Fairtrade cocoa in their own brand products. Sales of Fairtrade flowers were also up by 12% against a declining market. Brand awareness had never been higher and 75% of people in a recent survey said they cared about fair trading.

Mike also addressed the current situation regarding Nestle moving away from Fairtrade certification for its Kit Kat range in the UK.  This will have a serious impact on their current suppliers.  Asked what Fairtrade supporters could do about this, Mike said that we should never underestimate the power of consumers and we should all voice our concern.

Patrick joined us at this point and reiterated some of the points Mike had made.  He stressed the importance of the Fairtrade premium, which was not a feature of other certification schemes, and the importance of local discretion in using this.  In his own community of Michimikuru Fairtrade premium payments had been used to provide a health clinic and he was pleased to say that it had recently been accepted for government support.

He also agreed with Mike on the potentially devastating economic effects that the pandemic can have, some of which are already taking effect.  The price of tea, for example, has fallen dramatically.  Although all tea production in Michimikuru is produced to Fairtrade standards only a small part is sold as Fairtrade, which attracts the premium.  Increasing the amount of tea which sold under Fairtrade conditions would make a big difference.

Luckily the direct impact of the pandemic in Patrick’s province has, so far, been limited.  If it did take hold, self-isolation would be a big problem as most workers live very much ‘hand to mouth’ and have few, if any, reserves to fall back on.

Both Mike and Patrick took questions and Patrick said how much he appreciated the support he had received from the Fairtrade movement and, particularly, supporters in Suffolk. He said he was proud to be the SAFT Patron and promised to keep in touch.

Annual Report – July 2020

SAFT Activities 2019-2020
The prime aim of SAFT is to promote Fairtrade in Suffolk and one of the ways of doing this is to provide support to constituent Fairtrade towns when needed.  When the chairman of the Sudbury group retired from the full time ministry and decided to move to Lincolnshire, there was a danger that the group might fold.  Temporary arrangements were made to keep things going however while a solution was sought.  Richard Stainer was, fortunately, able to put Nicki Dixon in touch with the group and she is now its chairman.  She has proved to be an enthusiastic and able organiser of Fairtrade in Sudbury and her report on her first year in office is included below. Nicki also hopes to join us at the virtual conference.

We have, so far, been less successful with Woodbridge which was a Fairtrade town but has been dormant for some years now.  There are, however, some positive signs.  The new town council has been approached and is supportive of Fairtrade involvement by the town.  Mike Gidney has moved to Woodbridge and has offered his support, as has the East of England Co-op.  I wrote an article for the library newsletter which has attracted some interest and Nicki Dixon (who used to live in Woodbridge) has provided some useful contacts.

If it had not been for lockdown we would probably have arranged a meeting of interested parties with a view to holding a public meeting and gauging support. We have offered help from SAFT and neighbouring Fairtrade towns to any group that might be set up and we have invited any potentially interested contacts to attend the virtual conference on 11 July.

During the course of the year we sought sponsorship for the SAFT website and were very grateful to receive funding for three years from the East of England Co-op. The website is important, not just in publicising the work of SAFT, but also in signposting people to the individual Fairtrade Town groups. We also have an active Facebook site and welcome opportunities to publicise events there. 

Our Patron, Patrick Kaberia, has kept in touch.  He had an addition to his family in November, Michele.  He has been very busy during the partial lockdown in Kenya touring local farms and educating people on how to stay safe.  Happily the direct impact of Covid-19 has not been too severe but the economic consequences are worrying.

Bury St Edmunds Report
Our main focus has been engaging with local groups to spread the Fairtrade message. To that end we had a stall at the World Mission Conference in Bury on the 28th September and members of the group also served Fairtrade tea and coffee throughout the day. That evening Richard gave a talk at a fundraising Cheese and Chocolate event for a local church. Other talks at church services and to various groups have happened regularly through the year. Penny and Pam set up a Fairtrade stand at the Bury St Edmunds Tourism Fair at the Athenaeum and also the Inter-church Forum harvest festival.

During Fairtrade Fortnight Jo organised a poster competition for local schools. We were a little disappointed by the take-up but some 30 pupils entered posters which were judged and Fairtrade prizes awarded for the best. The East of England Co-op kindly donated prizes. We also had a Fairtrade Afternoon Tea event at Just Traid our Fairtrade shop in Bury which was well supported. Liz continues to liaise between us and the shop. On the 1 March we were invited to take part in the 10am Eucharist at the Cathedral. Christine and David read from the bible, Jo and Pam took up the elements and Richard spoke on our relationship with food including the importance of Fairtrade.

Other plans have had to be put on hold because of the lockdown. We had arranged with Casa, a restaurant in the town, for two Fairtrade meals along with a cookery demonstration before each. We were all set to go on the 22 April, but obviously it had to be postponed. It will be difficult to do until restrictions are fully lifted. Talks have also had to be cancelled.

We are still plugging away at the town signs having ‘A Fairtrade Town’ added to them and we now have the support of one of our councillors, but again the Covid-19 crisis has meant that the council have been more focused on other matters. We are also getting a large Fairtrade banner to go across the front of the entrance to the Cathedral offices, but are waiting for appropriate fixings to be put in place.

Or next initiative is a review of our action plan and Mallie is preparing an application for another two years as a Fairtrade town.

Beccles Report

July:  Six members attended a meeting of East Suffolk Council to support a Green Party motion aiming to transfer from the old Waveney District Council their purchasing policy to use Fairtrade where possible.  While the decision of the council was a compromise there was a measure of agreement.

August:   We ran a Fairtrade publicity stall with themed games at the Rigbourne Hill Community Day in Beccles, a new initiative run by East Suffolk Council.   There was a reasonable amount of interest and we were pleased to have the opportunity to reach out to this area of the town.

October:  The Anglican Churches ran a stall and coffee morning at St Luke’s Church to launch their renewed Fairtrade presence in the town.

November/December:  We ran our usual Fairtrade food and craft stall at the Hungate Church Christmas Tree Festival and decorated a Christmas tree on a Fairtrade sports ball theme.  The large footfall at this event has made it an ideal publicity opportunity.

February/March 2020 – Fairtrade Fortnight:  The Fairtrade Fortnight flagship public event was a very well attended Pop-up Cafe in Beccles Library with homemade Fairtrade cakes along with a sales stall and Fairtrade games for children.

We were warmly welcomed at Beccles Rugby Club where we presented them with Fairtrade rugby balls, which we had donated for their young people’s teams.

Sir John Leman High School held assemblies and other events as a Fairactive School, Beccles churches held coffee mornings and Beccles National Women’s Register celebrated with Fairtrade refreshments.  One of our town councillors set up a display in Morrison’s supermarket.

Finally the presentation of our Fairtrade Town Renewal Certificate for 2020/21 to the Mayor and town council also took place during the fortnight.

While we are unable to make future plans at present we circulate Fairtrade news to our local network on an occasional basis.

Ipswich Report
The last year for our group was mainly focused on delivering Fairtrade footballs to every primary school in Ipswich. All schools were offered the opportunity of an assembly and we also sent them a link to the film about Bala footballs. We delivered assemblies to all schools who requested one.

Fairtrade Fortnight was very busy for us. We enjoyed a successful mayoral event at Ipswich Town Hall with guest speaker Michael Gidney. Suffolk New College students made a Fairtrade cake for the occasion.

In the town centre we did a chocolate voucher giveaway with members of our group and the leader of the council. These vouchers were redeemable by visiting the Fair Trade Shop.

The Ipswich Film theatre showed a Fairtrade advert ahead of all their showings during the fortnight and we had an article in the Ipswich Angle which is widely distributed throughout Ipswich. There were a number of other activities throughout the fortnight.

We are delighted with our new website and continue to have a good Facebook and Twitter presence.

Ipswich Borough Council remain brilliant supporters of Fairtrade and also of our steering group.

We strived to support the excellent Fair Trade shop by buying the Bala balls from them and also the chocolate bars from our voucher venture.

We are a small but dedicated group but would welcome more new members to be involved with our work as we are a large town. Our Fairtrade town renewal is due in September of this year.

Framlingham Report
Being only a small town we don’t do any major events but go steadily through the year on a dripping tap basis! The pop-up stall is the main hook for keeping Fairtrade in the public eye. The centrally placed library provides storage space for the stock, had divine chocolate on permanent sale as well as a shelf of other items.

We had a regular after-service stall in two churches and also at any community events. We work closely with the Christian Aid Group which had increased its number of fund raising events in the past year to include coffee mornings and Soup & Pud lunches at which we set up the Fairtrade stall. Our main event during Fairtrade Fortnight was a Spot the Fairtrade Mark competition in our local Co-op, for which they also provided funding for two hampers of Fairtrade goodies. We just managed to squeeze this in before The Great Pause, but sadly no photos of the winner and runner-up as by that time we could only leave their prizes on their doorsteps!

Our Facebook page is kept ticking over with 165 followers, and we have also set up an Instagram account on which we have put 103 posts and currently has 542 followers.

Finally, the town council’s project to replace the town signs on Framlingham’s five approach roads were installed, funded by our county councillor.

The advent of lockdown was like running straight into a brick wall as far as we were concerned, and at the time of writing we don’t know when we will be able to resume our usual activities.

Leiston Report
This report covers Leiston-cum-Sizewell Fairtrade Town Steering Group’s activity since the last SAFT meeting on 8 June 2019.

We set up a Fairtrade information and promotion stand at Leiston Co-op on 21 June between 10am and 12noon to celebrate Suffolk Day.

Our Fairtrade Town status was renewed on 2 August.

We ran a stall at the St Margaret’s Church event on 23 November. This replaced our usual Christmas stall at The Long Shop Museum and featured two competitions with Fairtrade products as prizes.

To celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight 2020, a
coffee morning was held at the United Church in Leiston on 28 February. This was the eighth coffee morning arranged by the steering group and was well attended.

The Fairtrade Town Steering Group had planned to run a stall at Leiston’s Big Weekend on 9 May 2020, but the event was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Long Shop Museum’s usual Suffolk Day celebration on 21 June could not be held this year also because of the pandemic. However, during the day they posted details on their Facebook page of the various organisations in Leiston. The steering group provided input for this.

Lowestoft Report
Throughout the year Mick Dobney runs a regular and successful Fairtrade stall selling largely food goods every Tuesday morning.  This is a feature of a very popular coffee morning held at the United Reformed Church in the precinct.

Mick had a successful hip operation in September.  Although he was able to drive after six weeks he was unable to lift the heavy Traidcraft crates and put out the tables. Here he was helped by Paul, a good friend and Fairtrade supporter.  Mick also fulfilled various stall bookings, such as events at Kessingland Methodist Church, Trinity Methodist Church, the Salvation Army Citadel and the Christians Together AGM at the Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in the middle of Lowestoft, helped by committee members and other supporters.

We now hold a regular pre-Christmas sale at the town library – Mick’s stall and Jo Knight’s craft stall – manned by committee member and supporters.  This is a popular venue and we are fortunate that our secretary, Jo, is the library manager.  More Traidcraft Christmas cards than usual were sold, probably because its future was uncertain.

During Fairtrade Fortnight we were again at the library, replacing the previous venue at the URC.  The stalls were supported by a two week exhibition and a raffle which raised funds to finance future activities.

Unfortunately bookings for a talk and two stalls were cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Sudbury Report
Before lockdown we met every other month which seemed a fair time frame for us all.
The Suffolk Free Press ran an article about Nicki Dixon taking over as chairman and she also appeared on BBC Radio Suffolk at the start of Fairtrade Fortnight.

In February, to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, we held a market stall on Sudbury’s busy Saturday market and thank Sudbury Town Council for providing tables and a gazebo free of charge. The stall was busy with people stopping to enjoy free samples of tea, coffee and chocolate thanks to vouchers donated by the East of England Co-op. Children took away shopping activity sheets made by chairman Nicki Dixon which asked them to search for different goods that carry the Fairtrade logo and tick them off as they found them – two little girls returned the same day with the coffee ticked off from Greggs! It is something we will look to do next Fairtrade fortnight too.

We had planned on attending several local events before the global pandemic forced them to cancel but we are on the list to attend them next year – including Sudbury Carnival, Ballingdon Fete and others.

Nicki contacted a number of schools when she took over as chairman and Richard Stainer did an assembly at Wells Hall Primary School in Great Cornard. A few others expressed an interest in a visit but again these have been curtailed.

We applied for a small grant from Sudbury Town Council to help us with our relaunch and they have very kindly granted £100 to us.  We also applied to Suffolk County Councillor Jack Owen for funds from his locality budget but have yet to hear back.

Looking ahead we are hoping to run a poster competition next Fairtrade Fortnight in schools, children’s groups and churches on the theme of “All Trade Should Be Fair Trade”.
We continue to reach out through our social media channels and will be sending a letter to all local churches thanking them for their continued support and inviting anyone interested to become a member of our group.

We are also offering to talk the any groups who may be interested in finding out more about Fairtrade. One group talk was scheduled for early May but this will be rearranged.
Nicki is also hoping to arrange some fundraisers including a quiz night and the aforementioned stalls at events.

Felixstowe Report
Since the last meeting of SAFT we have kept busy.  We decided to take part in Felixstowe Carnival after a gap of several years.  Although, because of sickness and other commitments, there were only four of us on the day, we made an impression, helped by our 9ft banner and the fact we were just behind the marching band.  A nice picture, taken by our vicar as we were passing St John’s Church brought us some good publicity.

We continued our co-operation with Felixstowe Walkers in organising Fairtrade walks with Fairtrade refreshments to follow and we held several Fairtrade stalls, including one at the Victorian Christmas Market at St John’s.

Goods for these stalls are obtained through an arrangement with the Ipswich Fairtrade Shop and we were pleased to welcome Anne Durnford from the shop to speak at our AGM in November.  We were also able to announce at the AGM that Felixstowe’s status as a Fairtrade town had been renewed for another two years.

In the run up to Fairtrade Fortnight we borrowed an idea from the Ipswich group and, thanks to support from the East of England Co-op, we were able to embark on a programme of presenting Fairtrade footballs to each of Felixstowe and Trimley’s primary schools at special assemblies.  Those of us who talked to the children at these assemblies were impressed by the level of knowledge about Fairtrade.  We hope to complete the programme once current restrictions are lifted.

The Mayor of Felixstowe, Nick Barber, launched Fairtrade Fortnight at Christ Church Felixstowe followed by a walk.  On the middle Saturday we held our third annual Family Fun Day at the library which was well attended by local children and their families.  Apart from setting off the fire alarm while melting chocolate for the chocolate fountain, it all went well.  We finished off the fortnight with a coffee morning on the final Saturday at St John’s.

Sadly the Family Fun Day was the last time most of us saw Peter Dawes, our first chairman, who died of a heart attack in March.  He is sorely missed.

The local media served us well throughout the year with something in the press in most months.  The ‘Spot the Difference’ competition, organised in conjunction with Spotlight magazine is always popular.  During lockdown we have had a couple of articles accepted for our excellent library newsletter, which has kept the flag flying for Fairtrade during this difficult time.


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