Fair Trade Nation Conference

The Liberty City stadium has seen a lot of parties. Some spurred on by sporting silverware, some in honour of newly-weds but never before had it celebrated a Fair Trade Nation.  Until now.

Cue the Fairtrade Cake. Cue the Fairtrade balloons hanging from every corner of the room. And most importantly of all. Cue the Grassroots campaigners from across the country ready to celebrate their hard work and set course for the next five years of Fairtrade Campaigning.

So Fair Trade Cuppas in hand, the day started with a film from Fairtrade Swansea, showing off their fantastic work locally. Created by film maker & group member Silva Hughes, it showcased the kind of grass roots campaigning work that has helped embed Fair Trade across Wales. Indeed it was this same campaigning zeal that had led many Fairtrade supporters to make the trek  that very day to Hyde Park, London to take part in an event for the ground breaking “Enough Food If” Campaign. Not wanting to miss out, we took part in our very own If photo to link up with fellow our fellow campaigners.

 

The Conference provided an opportunity for the first time to meet Wales’ newest representative on the Fairtrade Foundation’s National Campaigner Committee, Jenny Edwards (find out more here) who spoke of looking forward to sharing the views of campaigners across Wales. We were then joined by the Foundation’s Communities Campaigns Manager,  Adam Gardner, who laid out their new strategy to give a greater voice to grass roots campaigners across Wales and the important part Jenny and the NCC will play in this.

The session was brought to a close as we enjoyed some inspiring poems from the students Bishopston Comprehensive, a local Fairtrade school.
Next up was a Fair Trade Nation plenary session with a host of experts from the movement including Martin Rhodes (National Coordinator, Scottish Fair Trade Forum) fresh from Scotland’s own successful Nation campaign.  The debate was lively and full of interesting lessons, with discussion touching on the tragic working conditions facing Bangladeshi factory workers to how best to support the burgeoning Fairtrade Footballs market. There was discussion of how to promote Fairtrade status locally with an interesting insight into how some Scottish town are using local road sign to do just that.


We then began the first round of workshops with sessions covering a whole host of different subjects. In particular we were fortunate to be joined by Sally Reith from Shared Interest who talked all about how they work to provide Finance to Fairtrade Producers as well as  The Fairtrade Foundations’s, Steven Lord who  ran a workshop giving an expert insight into the working of the Certification process. Adam Gardner ran a workshop on Local Campaigning, showcasing a host of welsh campaigns from the Fair Trade Way to The Fairtrade in Football campaign, as well as the Church in Wales Fair Trade Province campaign.  There were also sessions on Engaging Young People courtesy of Swansea’s inspirational Red Cafe.

 

A busy day already, it was time for a well earn’t Fairtrade lunch and the chance to network. The walls were lined with stall from some of the organisations who have helped the Fair Trade Nation along the way. From the fantastic Fair Trade shops, Fair Dos and Bag Age to the always remarkable Love Zimbabwe and Shared Interest, there was no shortage of inspiration on display.  There were exciting campaign displays too such as Sharron Hardwicks Fair Trade in Football  & Phil Broadhurst’s Fair Trade Way. As if that wasn’t enough, we also had samples & refreshments aplenty thanks to our event sponsors (The Cooperative, Ubuntu, Liberation Nuts, Calypos Soft Drink, Sheckters Organic & Fair Business Alliance).

After taking in another round of workshops it was time for the launch of the Fair Trade Nation 5th Anniversary Film. Produced as part of the Fifth Anniversary celebrations, it showcases the work of Fair Trade supporters from across Wales. It was produced by Cardiff based Taglia Telly film company and its voice over was provided by Hywel Thomas & Rachel Leonard students from Y pant Fairtrade Secondary School (You can watch the film here). With many of the film’s star turns also present on the day, it was the perfect punctuation to a year of celebrations.  

 

In keeping with the party atmosphere, there was also time to celebrate the contribution of some of those Fair Trade supporters who’s hard work makes the Fair Trade Nation a reality. For this special part of the day we were joined by Keith Davis AM for Llanelli who was delighted to be able to recognise the great work of campaigners across Wales.  Among the winners was the remarkable Martha Muzona Holman (Ex. Director, Love Zimbabwe) who won the Inspirational speaker award  and outgoing NCC rep, Phil Broadhurst who picked up the gong for his outstanding Leadership (click here for a full list of awards).  This was undoubtedly a high point and a fantastic prelude to our finale; a video link with a Fairtrade Producer.

 

Fiona Nakusi joined us live from Uganda to give an insight into the impact of Fairtrade on Coffee farmers in her region. As Deputy MD of the Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative, Fiona knows more than most about the challenges faced by the cooperatives members and she talked about how Fairtrade’s commitment to gender equality had helped her to get to the position she was in today.  Questions followed on a whole host of topics from Fairtrade’s contribution toward combating Climate Change to how its social premium had improved educational prospects for children of Fairtrade Farmers. By the end of the link, the applause was deafening, with many considering it the highlight of the day.

 

There’s always space to cram in a bit more inspiration though so before the guests headed home, there was time for an incredible film from the Red Cafe, Swansea. The film shows the inspirational work going on in Fairtrade Schools across Wales and proved a fitting way to bring to a close an incredible day.

 

With the help of incredible volunteers from local universities, the myriad Fair Trade stalls and, of course, the campaigners themselves. The Fair Trade Nation was not only celebrated but renewed. 

 

 

—————

We’d like to thank all our sponsors as well as the The Welsh Government & the Fairtrade Foundation without whos supported, it could not have taken place.

 

 

Read more on