Chester Fairtrade celebrated 20 years of activity in the city with a series of events last week. The borough’s Fairtrade Steering Group, which includes campaigners and supporters from Neston, Ellesmere Port and Chester, first secured Fairtrade status for Chester city in 2002 and for the borough in 2011. The achievement, spearheaded by Cheshire Development Education Centre, and supported by the Council and many individuals, community groups, churches, schools, and businesses, has seen the promotion of Fairtrade across the area over the last 20 years. At a celebratory breakfast hosted at Chester Cathedral, long serving volunteer Heather Swainston said to guests:
“I have been very privileged through my work with Cheshire DEC and then as a member of the CWAC Fairtrade Steering Group and now as Secretary of Chester Fairtrading to experience first hand how Fairtrade makes a huge difference to the lives of farmers, producers and artisans in the Global South and also how it brings individuals and communities together here too. We have been very fortunate to host so many producer visits to Chester over the years including Guillermo Vargas a Costa Rican coffee farmer back in 2002, Rijayatu – a cocoa farmer’s daughter, Brian Namata a sugar farmer from Malawi, Sergio Allard a wine producer from Chile, Shailesh Patel a cotton Famer from India, Conrad James a St Lucian banana farmer. Gerardo Camacho another Costa Rican coffee farmer and Palestinian olive farmers Mohammed and Taysir and most recently Marcial Quinteros a banana farmer from Panama. Hosting these producers has meant that we have been able to hear first hand about the impact of being a member of a Fairtrade cooperative has. The harmful effect of the climate crisis on farmers and food supplies has never been more apparent and we will continue to work with institutions, government, individuals and civil society to create change.”
The Fairtrade Foundation sent a message of congratulations to the city : “Being a Fairtrade community takes commitment, creativity, organisation, perseverance, and the belief that together we have more power to help create a better, fairer world. To bring all of this together in a Fairtrade campaign, uniting a city for two decades is a huge and special achievement – many congratulations and respect to all of the individuals and organisations who have been involved!
“Unfairness in global trade is deep-rooted over many generations of exploitation of people and our planet. So Fairtrade is a long term campaign for trade justice, and the ongoing work to unite our communities in action for fairer trade is at the heart of achieving it. Every Fairtrade purchase makes a difference – but it is when we come together as organisations, as communities that we really grow the movement for fairness in trade, and weave the values of respect, action, and justice into our society. It’s an amazing achievement for any community – but Chester deserves a unique and special mention as the first ever Fairtrade City in the UK. Following Garstang you are one of the early pioneers of the Fairtrade movement in the UK, which over 600 communities across the UK have since followed in your footsteps, and has had an incredible impact. Those who remember becoming the 1st Fairtrade City back in 2002 might not have thought you would be at the vanguard of such an important social movement for change, that would put Fairtrade into the mainstream of our society; in classrooms, town halls, supermarket shelves – and grow to reach over 1.8 million farmers and workers in 72 countries. We hope that you can celebrate and take pride in this amazing milestone of 20 years. And keep on believing in what we can achieve together in another 20!”
The Chester Fairtrade shop is open inside the Wesley Centre. For more info see https://thechesterblog.com/2021/06/01/chester-fairtrade-shop-reopens/