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Margaret Fish, Suzan Northway, Michael Gidney CEO Fairtrade Foundation,Jo Salter and Anne

Fairtrade Margaret Fish, Suzan Northway, Michael Gidney CEO Fairtrade Foundation,Jo Salter and Anne Durnford. - Credit: Archant

Boost for Fairtrade in Suffolk with launch of a new association

Patrick finds his tea in the Fairtrade Shop

Patrick finds his tea in the Fairtrade Shop

In recent years the Fairtrade message has been growing in strength and popularity.

From something that was been promoted by small groups of supporters it now has a presence in major supermarkets, such as Co-op and Tesco.

There is a still a lot that needs to be done, however, and now there is a new association, The Suffolk Association of Fairtrade Towns, to boost the efforts locally.

A meetng was held by representatives from the seven Fairtrade towns, in Bradfield St George near Bury St Edmunds, to launch the new association.

The towns are Ipswich, Felixstowe, Bury St Edmunds, Beccles, Framlingham, Sudbury and Lowestoft.

Chairman of the new association is Richard Stainer of the Bury St Edmunds group.

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He said: ““I am really pleased that all seven active Fairtrade Towns in Suffolk were able to come together for this meeting. Our special guest was Michael Gidney, the chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation and he stressed to us how important the voluntary movement throughout the country is in maintaining pressure on supermarkets and other outlets to stock and promote Fairtrade goods. By bringing all the towns together in this association we hope to support each other and build on each other’s strengths to promote Fairtrade throughout Suffolk.

The inspiration for setting up this group was the visit of Patrick Kaberia, a Fairtrade tea farmer from Kenya who visited all the Fairtrade towns in Suffolk earlier this year during Fairtrade fortnight.

“He explained to us how the Fairtrade movement has made such a difference to areas such as his in Michimikuru in providing stability, fair prices and advice on sustainability.

“In addition the Fairtrade premium, paid to all Fairtrade producers, has enabled his community to invest in projects such as providing better schooling for its rising generation.”

Earlier in the year the local Fairtade groups, and their communities, had a visit from Kenya Faitrade farmer Patrick Muthaura who told them of the importance of the scheme to producers.

Secretary of the new association is Alan Muchal, of the Felixstowe group.

He said: “We are all different and we promote Fairtrade slightly differently. We will all come together and learn from each other.”

In Felixstowe, for example, they do a lot of work promoting and publicising fair trade, asking cafes to use Fairtrade products and working with schools and young people.

In Ipswich the Fairtade shop, in Upper Brook Street, offers a wide range of Fairtrade goods from around the world, from clothing to toys, food products, tea and coffee.

The Suffolk Fairtade towns already have a new website, which will be revised and updated. This links to individual websites and Facebook pages for the Fairtrade towns, which are updated with news and information.