Make Ipswich more fair

PESTER your boss and shake-up your shopping habits is the message to Ipswich people today as the town makes a push to achieve fairtrade town status. As part of a bid to get Ipswich recognised as a town that helps communities in developing countries get a fair price for their products the borough council is set to make a renewed application for fairtrade status.

PESTER your boss and shake-up your shopping habits is the message to Ipswich people today as the town makes a push to achieve fairtrade town status.

As part of a bid to get Ipswich recognised as a town that helps communities in developing countries get a fair price for their products the borough council is set to make a renewed application for fairtrade status.

An attempt to gain the status was made last year but narrowly failed because it did not quite meet some of the criteria necessary.

Ipswich is one of 239 towns, cities or boroughs currently working to join the list of 227 places in the UK - including Colchester and Norwich - that already have fair-trade status.

The town has already achieved the majority of the criteria to achieve fair-trade status but still needs to persuade employers and organisations in the town to take up the fair-trade mantle by making products such as fair-trade, tea, coffee and fruit available to staff.

Jarek Kopek, of Ipswich council, said: “People can help by taking the simple step of asking their employer to ensure their suppliers are involved in offering fairtrade products or getting them to introduce fairtrade products into their range.

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“Similarly people can ask their church or community group to make a commitment to use fair-trade products during activities.

“They also need to let us know if they already use fairtrade products.”

Borough councillor Carole Jones told The Evening Star it is important for the town to be fairtrade friendly and show a commitment to help developing communities.

She said: “Buying fair-trade products not only benefits the individual producer by giving them a good price for the product but also benefits the community as well because money is set aside in a pot for social projects.”

Arthur Thomas, who runs The Fair Trade Shop in Orwell Place said there has been a notable shift in attitude too fair trade products since the shop was set up more than 11 years ago.

He said: “It has definitely become more popular as the years go by.

“When we first set up we were probably the only retail outlet in Ipswich stocking fairtrade but now most supermarkets and many other shops are stockists.

“It can only be a good thing and the quality of the products has come along way since the early days.”

Ipswich's fresh bid for fairtrade status is set to coincide with the end of the nationwide fairtrade fortnight campaign.

As part of fair-trade fortnight a number of events aimed at increasing awareness of equal-trading activities in the world are being held across the town.

These include a fairtrade market stall on Cornhill on Saturday, visits by fairtrade farmers to Ipswich schools and an art competition.

Fairtrade fortnight events:

Feb 26 - March 11 2007 - A display of Fairtrade focussing on the range of Fairtrade products available at Ipswich Library.

March 1st - Fairtrade Display Gainsborough Sports Centre.

March 2nd - Fairtrade Art Competition for pupils at Ipswich schools.

March 3rd - A fairtrade market stall will be part of Ipswich market at the Cornhill between 10am and 4pm.

March 5th - Fairtrade stall and taster event at the AXA Insurance canteen on Civic Drive between midday and 2pm.

March 6th - Fairtrade stall and taster event at Ipswich Borough Council, Grafton House, Russell Road.

Fairtrade Producer Sher Gazi, chief executive of Mountain Fruits located in the Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan will be visiting local schools in Ipswich providing local school children with the opportunity of learning first hand about the benefits of fair-trade to apricot and nut growers.

Fairtrade evening at the Orwell Room, Ipswich Borough Council, Russell Road, Ipswich between 7pm - 10pm. The evening will involve a presentation by Sher Gazi on his work in Pakistan followed by fairtrade wine tasting, a quiz and a raffle.

March 7th - Fairtrade Inset Day for Schools. Co-Op Education Centre, Fore Street, Ipswich. 12.30 - 4pm. Resource Day for schools focussing on how schools can become fairtrade friendly.

March 9th - Fairtrade Stall and taster. Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre, Lower Mall, Tower Ramparts, Ipswich.

March 10th - Fairtrade Display Northgate Sports Centre, Sidegate Lane, Ipswich.

Fairtrade facts:

Today, there are 548 certified fair-trade producer organisations

These organisations represent almost 650 traders, and over 800,000 families of farmers and workers - an estimated 5 million people coming from more than 58 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

There are now more than 1,500 fairtrade products available from retail and catering suppliers in the UK.

50 per cent of the UK's adult population can now identify the certification mark, up from 25pc in 2003 and 39pc last year.

Fairtrade sales in the UK are doubling every two years.

Becoming a fairtrade town:

To become a fairtrade Town (or any other populated area), five goals must be met:

1. The local council must pass a resolution supporting fairtrade, and serve fairtrade coffee and tea at its meetings and in offices and canteens.

2. A range of fairtrade products must be readily available in the area's shops and served in local cafés and catering establishments (targets are set in relation to population)

3. Fairtrade products must be used by a number of local work places (estate agents, hairdressers etc) and community organisations (churches, schools etc)

4. Attract media coverage and popular support for the campaign.

5. A local fairtrade steering group must be convened to ensure continued commitment to fairtrade town status.

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