The current economic crisis has led a growing number of people to question the suitability of the capitalist system and even our Western democracy to cope with the big issues that confront us today: youth unemployment, climate change and the lack of sustainable new technologies to re-start economic growth. Many of us have already been affected by the accompanying social unrest, reduction in disposable incomes, stress and lifestyle issues, and changes to the environment.
Public services and charitable funding are being cut, and despite the lessons from the banking sector, more and more of us find ourselves dependent on a few dominant, profit driven, global companies for many of the essential things we need such as food, energy, and communications. They offer us choice (as long as we go to their ‘shop’) and often low prices. Often bigger and more powerful than governments, they distort the market in their favour by promising our political representatives jobs and investment, using offshore tax havens, stifling new competition, and more. What government facing re-election in three or four years can risk raising the energy, health, transport, or environmental taxes to the sustainable level that some of these companies should pay to reflect their negative long term impacts on society – both here and in the developing nations? The net result is they continue to grow and, directly or indirectly, crush or buy off anyone who threatens their oligopoly.
Any observer of history can see that this discounting of real costs and risks in the pursuit of endless growth is unsustainable – as proved the case with the banks. The longer it continues, the more painful the inevitable adjustment will be. A co-operative economy offers a genuine proven alternative. In 1844, similar exploitation was going on in the then dominant UK textile industry. Factory workers were often paid in ‘truck money’ – money issued by the mill owner, which could only be spent in his own shops where prices were as high as they could get away with (some might say a bit like loyalty points awarded by some retailers today). In response some consumers got together, each put in what they could afford, and started their own shop. They all had a vote to be sure of a fair deal that put their community first and they jointly decided how to use any financial surpluses. Thus began the co-operative movement and it developed the Values and Principles that co-operatives continue to work to today.
There are now nearly 5000 independent co-operatives in the UK owned by more than 12.9 million members. It has become a global movement and is growing rapidly as consumer trust of global corporations and governments diminishes, and there is increasing recognition of co-operation as a vital ingredient in economic development. The advent of the internet and social media is a big boost for the movement allowing quicker and more effective co-operation amongst diverse groups and enabling the participation of far flung communities with a common need – The Phone Co-op and The Co-operative Energy ventures being good examples.
Can the co-operative approach help the Holme Valley face up to the coming cut backs and build a better community for the future? Well it already is in a small way, and the success of other co-operatives nearby illustrates the tremendous scope for our community to work together, to address some of the key problems we face:
Experience has shown that small businesses are vital to job creation. Local, sustainable start ups providing products and services for the needs of today’s consumers offer training and opportunity, and ensure that a fair proportion of any wealth created remains in the region. Compare that with another new supermarket – a few shelf-stackers yes, but management, services, drivers, maintenance, and other skilled opportunities will go elsewhere.
New co-operatives, which already employ significant numbers in a local context, have started in the Holme and Colne valleys in sectors as diverse as baking, pig farming, Fairtrade retailing, fruit and vegetables retailing, and organic box schemes. Local co-operative members collaborating with the Transition Town movement and other local organisations and business have identified opportunities in education, manufacturing, agriculture, recycling, health and social care, tourism, and renewable energy. Most of these projects involve volunteers with money, experience, or specialised skills taking responsibility and working together in solidarity with younger people, contributing energy, imagination, and flair. Other co-operatives elsewhere are already operating successfully in these areas and are ready and willing to help. Consultancy, legal and financial support is available through the co-operative movement structures.
Climate change and poverty
Small local growers and retailers working together in our area offer fresher food, reduced food miles, lower pesticide and fertiliser use, and less local traffic. Demand is exceeding supply providing opportunities for new growers. Co-operative members have expertise and contacts in green buildings, renewable energy, and recycling schemes that could provide local employment and a quicker, more cost effective way to reduce carbon output than the mega projects touted by multinationals.
The Fairtrade supporter can buy an increasing proportion of their needs from suppliers who can demonstrate a positive social, environmental and economic impact on poor communities. Direct links have been established with these communities and local businesses, schools, NGOs and colleges, leading to collaboration on new fashion and food brands designed, marketed and packaged locally from upcycled or fairtrade ingredients. Aura Que handbags, Oromo coffee and Not Just Rice are examples, all empowering local people to make a difference whilst providing scope for local jobs and fair employment in developing world communities.
Stress and lifestyle issues
Cutbacks in health, social services, and government supported charities, mean we will increasingly have to look after vulnerable members of the community ourselves. Even The Royal College of Nursing warned recently that we may soon have to take personal responsibility for feeding our elderly relatives in hospital. Housing, foster care, palliative care, child care, homecare, and other social and health care co-operatives are operating throughout the UK providing a vital lifeline for communities and volunteering, job and training opportunities. Carers and cared for are treated as equals and have a democratic voice in the running of the service. Such volunteering can help individuals deal with isolation, depression, and unemployment as well as keeping care local.
Political apathy and short termism
There are no short term, easy answers to the problems we face. Tax cuts, debt fuelled spending, enterprise zones, etc so hotly debated by our politicians are increasingly irrelevant in the face of seismic changes in the world economy and environment. Effective local leadership is needed to create a climate where the huge collective talent that exists in our community is encouraged to work together for mutual benefit.
Bottom-up democracy is alive and well in the co-operative movement. Members hold boards to account, decide how to use any financial surpluses, and approve key decisions. They will tend to be active voters and support political candidates who are open, honest, and caring, and deliver for their local community. With over 2000 members of independent co-operatives in Holmfirth alone they have the potential to make their voices heard.
In conclusion, co-operatives are not a panacea, but anyone, be they old, young, unemployed, business leaders, civil servants, asylum seekers, politicians, etc, etc; wanting to do something positive to improve our community, can support and get involved with their local co-operative. Members are their lifeblood and they will welcome expressions of interest from individuals or organisations who wish to join, volunteer their help, start their own co-operative, or explore a partnership opportunity. Combining the talents and energy of our local community with the national and international networks of the co-operative movement offers real hope for the future.
Blog post by Mark Lewis
Although I am a member of the co-operatives listed below, the views expressed above are entirely personal and should not be taken as reflecting the opinion of any particular Society.
The Co-operative Group firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fair Traders Co-operative email@example.com
Wooldale Co-operative Society firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch this amazing animated short film by Accrington based Huckleberry Films which uses archive and animated footage to bring the story of the Rochdale pioneers to life and how their beginnings encouraged a global movement which incoporates over a billion members. Watch the New Pioneers film here.
When the opportunity arose for The Fair Traders Cooperative to be part of a charity event for Freedom From Torture we could not have been happier to be involved with such a good cause. When we discovered that they wanted us to contribute items for goody bags for 90 VIP guests , we saw a brilliant opportunity to reach this influential and caring group of people with our message , whilst supporting a worthwhile event. It was agreed that we would provide Digley Ale, a locally produced beer stocked by The Fair Traders Co-operative, each bottle accompanied by a label explaining more about the beer and the ethos of our enterprise.
On the 8th of August the event was held at the BT Tower in London to celebrate John McCarthy’s 20 years of freedom from Lebanon. Held on the anniversary of his release from captivity, the main event was a talk from John himself on his experiences and on how Freedom From Torture are helping victims such as himself to regain their lives after their life changing ordeals. With a full celebrity guest list as well as 500 tickets for the public sold, the event was set to be a big one, with people from all over the country coming to show their support for the charity.
As well as being a great occasion for us to promote our fabulous products, aims and values to a wider audience, including a selection of celebrity names and influential business leaders, for those attending the event was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the sights from one of the tallest buildings in London. Standing at 189 metres tall, the BT Tower in Central London is usually closed off to the public but was opened up to especially for ticket holders to this special event that included tea and cupcakes with a view like none other!
In addition to providing Digley Ale for the VIP goody bags Freedom from Torture also distributed our leaflets (complete with a free Clipper Tea bag!) to the 500 paying guests and The Fair Traders Cooperative is to be featured in upcoming issues of The Survivor and several other publications which will be circulated to around 45,000 people! We could not have asked for a more fantastic publicity opportunity and would like to thank Freedom From Torture for involving us.
For more information on Freedom for Torture and the BT Tower event itself, please go to www.freedom fromtorture.org or follow them on Facebook and Twitter and (as always!) all our products including Digley Ale can be found on our online shop.
The Road King trundles across the Rapti Bridge, greasy axles turning, tassled wing mirrors catching the light. We’ve been behind him for twenty minutes now, trying to squeeze past as we make our way down the East West Highway towards our workshop, just outside Bardibas. It was just before 7am when we left Kathmandu, weaving up and out, over the lip of the valley, following the Trisuli river on its way down to the flatlands. With any luck we’ll make it to our destination before nightfall.
Since our last trip to Nepal things have moved on for Danusha. We’ve got a business plan in place (almost) and we’re just about ready to reveal our logo. We’ve also built relationships with shops and organisations like The Fair Traders Co-operative and we’re really grateful for such fantastic support. We like The FTC so much that we’re going to buy a share for Danusha as we believe in reciprocity.
The Danusha workshop is based at Lalgadh Hospital on Nepal’s south eastern plains which run along the Indian border. This beautiful area is largely undeveloped and a high proportion of the population live on or below the poverty line.
The project began in June 2008, in response to a need to provide training for women whose lives had been affected by leprosy. Though easily treatable, there’s still a lot of stigma associated with leprosy, so sufferers and their families may be ostracised and find it difficult to gain employment. We set up Danusha to address this issue and help make a positive difference.
Initially ten women received training in simple jewellery making. Since then they’ve received further training and now make jewellery for us to sell in the UK. They receive a fair wage and training in health and hygiene, basic literacy and personal development and receive good food and accommodation while they’re on site.
We love the fact that each piece of jewellery comes with a story which we’re able to share with our customers. Lots of people have commented that knowing something about the person who made their jewellery helps make it special, unlike something generic and mass produced from a chain store.
Recently we got one of our staff, Rekha, to tell us a little bit about her life. A beautiful young woman, Rekha is probably in her early twenties, though she doesn’t know her exact age. She lives with her husband, Sanjay, in a small village called Hariharpur in the area near Lalgadh. As well as working for Danusha, she and her husband run a snack stall at their local bazaar.
When Rekha was eight she burnt her left hand and foot, but worryingly didn’t feel any pain. She developed ulcers and went to a faith healer who couldn’t cure her. He referred her to Lalgadh Hospital where leprosy was diagnosed, though Rekah wasn’t told of this. Instead her father told her that she had a ‘big disease’ and needed to take medicine. After treatment it was Rekha’s stepmother who told her she had leprosy and that no one would want to marry her. Her stepmother refused to give Rekha food and was very unkind to her.
Counsellors at Lalgadh Hospital gave lots of support and encouragement and slowly the family situation improved. Rekha attended regular sessions at the hospital, and in 2009 she met and fell in love with Sanjay there. He was also receiving treatment for leprosy.
Rekha joined Danusha in 2010 and has really grown in confidence since then. She’s very creative, shows a lot of initiative and we’re delighted that she’s part of our project. Sanjay also works for Danusha and it’s lovely to see this couple so happy and content.
Rekha enjoys her work at Danusha. Her economic condition has improved, she’s saving money and can also make her own necklaces to sell on her snack stall.
With the support of organisations like The Fair Traders Co-operative we’re gradually developing a regular customer base here in the UK, enabling more people to own and enjoy Danusha jewellery and to help people like Rekha in the process.
Danusha jewellery is available online from The Fair Traders Co-operative
As far as festivals go, The Fair Traders Cooperative’s ‘Family Fairtrade Festival’ has it all. It is the ultimate destination for families seeking fun and adventure within an ethical setting, with more child-friendly activities than you can shake a stick at!
The Family Fairtrade Festival is an annual festival supported by The Fair Traders Cooperative. It is held in Holmfirth, and offers a range of family activities centred around an ethical theme, all packed into three fantastic hours of fun, frolicking and, of course, FAIRTRADE! The festival is timed each year to mark International Youth Day, and provides a day of ethical entertainment for our local young people and visitors alike.
The festival this year kicked off with a carnival of delights including music of the folk variety, accompanied by a female giant named Maximum, located in the Upper Bridge Quarter Gardens opposite The Fair Traders Cooperative, – this certainly grabbed the attention of passers by!
Held on Saturday 13th August, festival goers were treated to a host of activities. Children and grown ups alike were seen singing and jigging, juggling and poi-spinning, colouring and gluing! Circus tricks specialist David Steedman shared his love of the circus with festival goers, as he taught them how to juggle, swing poi and to use the diabolo. He also demonstrated his skills with such instruments, as crowds watched in awe at his ability to make circus skills look not only fun, but very easy to learn.
Families were invited to make their own paper windmill. These were very colourfully decorated, many with an eco-friendly and green theme. Whilst crafting, children were encouraged to think about wind energy as a resource, as they discussed what wind is, how it is made, and how it can be converted into electricity.
Little girls and boys waited patiently in line to have their faces painted, whilst brothers and sisters tried their hand at welly wanging. Helen Robinson, who came along with her family said, “I’m looking forward to the Family Fairtrade Festival of 2012 already. Welly wanging will be in the Olympics, just you wait and see.” The welly wanging was a very successful feature at this years festival, of which Madeleine Orme was the triumphant winner, her prize being an invitation for her and a friend to come along to a Fairtrade Fun on Fridays craft session, held in The Fair Traders Cooperative community room throughout the summer holidays.
Meanwhile, many children built and decorated one of the Paper Pod cardboard play-dens, sold at The Fair Traders Cooperative, with colourful and elaborate designs, both inside and out. Whilst sipping on a cup of Fairtrade tea, Rebekka Bojanowski one of the festival’s organisers, exclaimed, “The festival has been a big success! Bigger and better next year!!”Find out about other events at The Fair Traders Co-operative by checking the events calendar.
Many of us here in Britain rely on that first cup of tea in the morning to wake us up and get us going for the day. And it’s a good job that we do, because in other areas of the world, reliance on tea is far more fundamental than that: as many as twenty million people in the developing world are dependent on tea for their very survival. In India, for example, tea is the second largest employer, and ten percent of Kenya’s population works in the tea trade. It is for this reason that tea is a vital element in the fight against poverty. Despite the huge popularity of tea in wealthy nations, small scale tea farmers and workers in the tea industry benefit little from the money spent when you buy your average brew. Buying fairly traded tea is one way that we can all make a difference and improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people around the world. With this in mind, The Fair Traders Co-operative now stocks a range of ‘everyday’ Traidcraft teas to complement the selection of flavoured green and white Qi teas already available in its shop and online store. Choosing a Fairtrade tea such as those stocked by The Fair Traders Co-operative ensures that the farmer receives a fair price for the tea. And what’s more, it means that workers rights and environmental needs are respected in the production of the tea. Producing tea is a labour intensive process, and workers and small scale producers in the tea sector can work very long hours, suffer back problems due to the bending and lifting involved and are exposed to pesticides and other agro-chemicals that cause ill-health. Workers on the large plantations, or tea estates, can be powerless to change their circumstances as they can be totally dependent on the estates for everything from wages and healthcare through to schooling and sanitation, leaving them with little control over their lives. And, of the many players in the tea supply chain, the small scale farmers and labourers earn a tiny proportion – as little as 1% – of the final retail price of the tea, whilst also carrying the greatest burden of risk when market prices fluctuate. The length and complexity of the tea supply chain means that farmers and tea workers have little relationship to buyers, and often have little choice about who they sell to or what price they get for their produce. The Fairtrade Foundation reports that there is very limited competition in the tea supply chain, with seven companies controlling 85% of tea production through their own factories and estates. Retail sales are also highly concentrated: the top three packers control 60% of the tea market in the UK. This concentration and control by a few western companies is reflected in the breakdown of who accrues the largest share of the value chain: • Around 40% of the retail price of tea accrues to the tea traders and manufacturers, and a further 40% goes to the processors/blenders, packagers and retailers, based mainly in rich countries. • In tea-producing countries, around 15% of the retail price goes to the plantation and factory, and less than 1% to the auction broker. • The plantation worker is likely to earn 1% or less. So whilst lacking power in the supply chain and receiving a very small proportion of the price of tea, small scale tea growers have to cope with the reality of increasing costs, such as for fuel, labour and fertiliser. Inflation has caused the price of living to go up, and yet tea producers have not benefited from increases in the nominal price of tea, receiving in fact only about half of what they did 30 years ago. And climate change is adding to their difficulties by causing unpredictable harvests, with recent droughts affecting crop outputs in many tea producing areas of the world. So, buying Fairtrade tea really can make all the difference. Fairtrade standards act as a safety net against the unpredictable market, providing a minimum price that aims to cover the costs of sustainable production, as well as a Fairtrade premium for investment in social, economic and environmental improvements, and providing credit if needed. The Fairtrade environmental standards require environmental protection, restrict the use of agrochemicals and encourage sustainable farming and processing methods. But perhaps the most crucial element of the Fairtrade standard is that the tea workers on plantations and the smallholder members of the producer organisations are able to take more control over their own future. Small scale farmers are organised into associations and must manage the Fairtrade premium democratically, reinvesting it according to priorities identified by the farmers themselves. This can include improving the services of their own organisation, improving quality control, or investing in social or environmental projects to benefit the whole community. The Fair Traders Co-operative stocks a variety of teas, including Everyday Tea, Everyday Decaffeinated Tea, African Gold Tea and Everyday Green Tea by Traidcraft and a range of flavoured green and white teas by Qi. Click here to browse and buy these high quality teas that really do ensure better livelihoods for vulnerable people.
Customers, members and staff were partying around the piano at the Fair Traders Co-operative on Sunday 12th June to celebrate our first birthday. And that was following a day of piano-playing fun on Saturday 11th to kick-start the Holmfirth Street Pianos project as part of Holmfirth Arts Festival.
If you’re local to Holmfirth, the chances are you’ve heard the strains of piano music drifting around the town during the Arts Festival. Holmfirth Street Pianos is a collaboration between Holmfirth Arts Festival and The Fair Traders Co-operative, which set out to see what would happen when five pianos were left on the streets of the town for anyone to play. The results have been amazing, with many an inspired performance by locals and visitors alike.
And to launch the event at the start of the Arts Festival there was a party around each piano. Free fair trade cake was given out at the party piano outside The Fair Traders Co-operative and children crowded to get involved in the circus skills and balloon modelling provided by Crafty Devilz at the banana piano at Norridge Bottom. Piano music filled the air, and there was even singing; the men on the scaffolding at Holy Trinity Church joined in beautifully with the sounds of the cotton piano outside Sid’s Cafe.
There was more fair trade cake to be had the next day, when The Fair Traders Co-operative celebrated their first birthday. The shop first opened its doors in June 2010, and to commemorate a year of making a difference to workers and their communities in some of the most disadvantaged countries in the world, The Fair Traders Co-operative invited suppliers, members, customers and visitors to a party at the shop. There was piano music, a performance by members of local jazz band New Orleans Wiggle, and a party-hat-making workshop for children.
To complement Holmfirth Arts Festival, a live window display saw local children and volunteers from the shop sipping tea, dancing and sharing fair trade cake. And as a really special birthday treat, Zimbabwe-born X Factor star, Beatrice Masvingise, sang a beautiful and moving song for us in her native language and cut the fair trade birthday cake. If you missed the party, you can see video footage and photos on our Facebook page.
The Fair Traders Co-operative wishes to thank all our members, customers, volunteers, staff, suppliers and supporters who have helped to make our first year successful. By continuing to buy ethically sourced products and supporting non-profit making fair trade ventures such as The Fair Traders Co-operative, each of us can make a positive difference to the people and communities who produce the items we purchase and consume each day. Click here to access our online store.
Holmfirth’s reputation as a cultural centre has been growing over the years, and with good reason. The town is home to a thriving artistic community and puts on a full calendar of festivals showcasing local artistic and musical talent.
The Fair Traders Co-operative is proud to support these events and to sell the work of local artists in its Huddersfield Road shop. A fringe venue for Holmfirth Art Week 2011, the shop will house three exhibitions by artists with links to the Holme Valley. The artwork on display will also fit with the shop’s ethos of sustainability, by being made from recycled materials.
Promoting environmental protection and sustainable development is a core element of the way that The Fair Traders Co-operative does business. Products sold through the shop and its online store undergo a unique sustainability assessment process, which involves finding out as much as possible about the impact of each product on the environment, on people and on the economy. This information is then made available for customers alongside a simple sustainability star rating that is presented on labels displayed with the products.
“We want our customers to be able to make informed choices when choosing between different products, and to know that a purchase here improves livelihoods and helps the environment,” said Helen Robinson of The Fair Traders Co-operative. “Another way we promote sustainability is by selling goods that have been produced locally and by supporting local events such as Art Week.”
Holmfirth Art Week’s main exhibition in the Civic Hall this year runs from 3rd to 9th July. Proceeds from the event will go, as in previous years, to MacMillan Cancer Support. For the duration of Art Week, The Fair Traders Co-operative will house eco-friendly collections by Tanya Palmer, Sophie Bebb and Maike Browning to include textile art, collage and recycled silver jewellery.
Tanya Palmer, a Holmfirth-based artisan and textile artist, last year won Holmfirth Art Week’s Florence Parker Memorial prize for Best Newcomer for her exhibit ‘South Lane, Holmfirth’. Some of Tanya’s craft products, such as beautiful tea- and coffee-cosies, brooches and bags are already on sale in The Fair Traders Co-operative shop and in its online store. Like these products, Tanya’s artwork utilises vintage and recycled textiles. “My textile art work is created using a mixture of appliqué and free-motion embroidery – which is me ‘drawing’ with my sewing machine,” said Tanya. “I also like to use splashes of colour, often with vintage fabric.”
Meltham artist Sophie Bebb’s collection of collage utilises recycled images from newspapers and magazines alongside
snippets of text on recycled newsprint that challenge the viewer’s concepts and assumptions. The result is art works that are sharp and pithy, whilst being accessible to a wide audience. “I believe strongly that we all need to take responsibility for our impact on people and on the environment, which is why I use recycled materials in my work,” said Sophie. “Exhibiting at The Fair Traders Co-operative is wonderful for me, because its aims and ethos fit closely with my own.”
Also exhibiting will be Maike Browning, who grew up in the Holme Valley and designs and makes contemporary silver jewellery. Drawing inspiration from her travels in India, her tactile, delicate jewellery is both beautiful to look at and a pleasure to wear. “I work intuitively with precious and non-precious materials, adding flickers of colour using precious stones and coloured threads,” said Maike. “I am happy to say that this collection is made almost entirely with recycled silver and all the jewellery is packaged in recycled boxes.” Using recycled silver improves both the environmental and ethical impact of the jewellery as the mining of silver, along with other metals, is considered to be very damaging to the environment and often lacking in human rights and labour regulations.
Sophie and Maike should both feel at home exhibiting at The Fair Traders Co-operative. Following completion of a degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing at the Edinburgh College of Art, Maike worked in The Fair Traders Co-operative shop until her move back to Edinburgh earlier this year to pursue a career as a jeweller. She also runs occasional silver jewellery workshops for beginners in the Community Room. A graduate in Fine Art Skills and Practice from Central St Martin’s in London, Sophie works part time at The Fair Traders Co-operative, leaving her time to develop her art portfolio… as well as offering many volunteer hours to The Fair Traders Cooperative to help with our events programme.
There will be a preview evening at The Fair Traders Co-operative on Friday 1st July at 7.30pm. Please come along, share some wine and be among the first to view the exhibition.
If you like a good party, support fair trade or just enjoy piano music and cake, then you won’t want to miss The Fair Traders Co-operative’s first birthday party celebrations. These will be taking place as just one of the wide variety of fantastic events planned for Holmfirth Arts Festival’s Street Pianos project. Do come along and join in!
Holmfirth Street Pianos is an absolute must see event, running throughout the Arts Festival from 11th – 26th June 2011. (Check out our link in support or the project.)In fact it’s not just about ‘seeing’, it’s about listening, discovering and getting involved. For the duration of the Arts Festival, five upright pianos will be placed around the streets of Holmfirth for anyone to play. As well as impromptu performances by the passing public, there will be organised events around each piano, from teddy bears’ picnics for tots, to pensioners playing the golden oldies; and from rock dads, to partying fair traders!
Each piano will be ‘themed’ to draw attention to the benefits of fair trade and sustainable living, and plenty of information will be available for people to find out more about the issues behind the themes. The ‘cotton piano’ will be decorated with vintage cotton patches and will be used to highlight the way conventional trade leaves millions of cotton farmers in poverty around the world. The ‘banana piano’ – and accompanying gorilla – will be difficult to miss, and will draw attention to the plight of struggling banana farmers. The ‘coffee piano’ will emphasize the scale of child labour involved in conventional coffee production and the ‘recycle piano’ may look like a pile of old junk, but will aim to make people think about the impact of our ‘disposable’ lifestyles.
And of course, the ‘party piano’, to be placed outside The Fair Traders Co-operative, will be festooned with balloons and bunting and will be the hub of the party – with plenty of fair trade cake and local beer available for those who like to indulge while they celebrate!
The Fair Traders Co-operative started trading a year ago as a result of investments from individuals, community groups, businesses and other co-operatives both locally and from further afield (our most distant investors are from a fair-trade banana farming community in the Caribbean). We sell fairly traded, ethical and sustainable products from the local area and producer groups across the world. The business now has nearly 500 members, an online store has been launched, and there is an ongoing programme of workshops and events held in the shop’s stone vaulted Community Room.
The focus of the birthday celebrations will be on Sunday 12th June; exactly one year after The Fair Traders Co-operative first opened its doors to the public. The party will be in full swing from 1pm to 4pm, complete with street entertainers, presents and music from local jazz band New Orleans Wiggle. And to tie in with the celebrations and with Holmfirth Arts Festival, there will also be a unique ‘living window display’ on 12th June in The Fair Traders Co-operative’s large window on Huddersfield Road.
Holmfirth Street Pianos is a partnership event between Holmfirth Arts Festival 2011 and The Fair Traders Co-operative. If you are interested in getting involved there are weekend workshops dedicated to decorating the pianos and generating interest, commitment and enthusiasm. Or else just come along and give us a tune during the festival fortnight. Find out more on our events calendar or on the Holmfirth Street Pianos facebook page
The Fair Traders Co-operative is working closely with local partners to support a group of young Kenyan farmers who are visiting the UK at the end of May. Huddersfield based Young Ethical Pioneers have organised the visit to provide opportunities for the farmers to learn about fair trading, ethical supply chains and to set up a direct trading link between Yorkshire and Kenyan youth. The young people are from Nyeri in central Kenya, where they work as coffee, dairy and tomato farmers on small family-owned farms. They are coming to the UK to learn about how their raw crops are turned into marketable produce, and how they can organise youths in Kenya to set up trading links with the youth enterprise groups in Yorkshire. The Fair Traders Co-operative will facilitate a day of training where the young people will explore business ideas around new products. Alongside the visit The Fair Traders Co-operative will be focusing on the varied range of Kenyan products already on offer in the Holmfirth shop and online, all of which are supplied by small artisans and manufacturers and support the very kinds of communities which the Kenyan farmers represent. As well as partnering with The Fair Traders Co-operative, the Young Ethical Pioneers are working with The Co-operative College and Bolling Coffee to organise a week of events and learning workshops for their guests. The events and the visit are part of the Global Community Linking programme which provides funding to groups to establish direct community to community links and raise awareness of global development issues in their communities.
The Young Ethical Pioneers (YEPs) formed in 2009 through a youth enterprise programme called ‘Not Just Us’ set up by local charity the Lorna Young Foundation. The aim of the programme is to teach young people who wouldn’t normally get the chance all about international development and fair trading. The programme provides training in all aspects of running a social enterprise and supports groups to set up and run their own ethical trading enterprises. So far the LYF has set up groups in Huddersfield, Leeds and Doncaster. The YEPs are currently working on developing a product range researched and designed themselves, ensuring that the supply chain and the people involved have not been exploited in the process of bringing the product to market. The link with Kenyan youth is an important element in their learning as not only will they be able to work directly with producers of the raw materials, but they will hear first hand some of the struggles faced by their peers in developing countries and be able to help directly by ensuring the profits from the produce are shared with the producers. The visit to Huddersfield is a chance for the Kenyan youth to learn about how fair trade business works, about UK markets, and to see how value is added to their produce once it leaves the farm. And when they return to Kenya they will be passing on their knowledge to other young people with the aim of getting more young people involved in farming. The challenge is for youth to see farming as a viable business; one problem being that young people do not want to take farms over from their parents who struggle to make a living. LYF’s work in developing countries seeks to address some of the problems facing farmers by training smallholders to understand markets and supply chains and enable them to get more value from their produce and improve their lives. In addition to the workshop that The Fair Traders Co-operative will be running, Bolling Coffee, a local coffee roaster, will host the YEPs and the Kenyans for an afternoon so that the young coffee farmers can see exactly what happens to coffee beans once they are exported; how value is added and how the coffee is processed, packaged, branded and sold to consumers. The Co-operative group, who sponsored one of the young farmers, will take the group to one of the Co-operative group’s farms to see how produce is processed from farm to fork, and to a co-operative store to learn about ethical sourcing and branding. The YEPs are planning to end the week with a finale event in Huddersfield town centre, where their Kenyan guests can take part in some real ethical trading in Huddersfield’s outdoor market. The YEPs are hoping that one outcome of their link with Kenyan farmers will be to persuade people in Huddersfield the value of ethical purchasing. To welcome our Kenyan guests to The Fair Traders Cooperative we are showcasing just some of the amazingly varied products we are currently stocking that have been made in Kenya.
After two successful months of ‘Crafts With Rosie’ comes the first review of the “crafternoons”! Every Wednesday afternoon, The Fair Traders Co-operative sees the arrival of a bubbly group of regulars to grace the Community Room.
Crafters are encouraged to bring their projects along and share their skills with the rest of the crafting community! Several people have learnt to crochet, starting with basic crochet stitches. Very quickly getting the hang of the stitches, all have progressed on to making items such as blankets and table mats. Others have taken quickly to rag-rugging, completing rag-rugs and ragwreaths in a matter of weeks!
Watch out for Francis, who is entering a competition with her lavender filled cross stitched pouch. Francis has toiled over this creation for a number of weeks and finally completed the piece this week! We also have a number of expert knitters in the group. Pam and Susie are the go-to girls when it comes to knitting patterns and embroidery, helping Rosie to complete a childs jumper this week.
One member of the group, Margaret, has offered to share her skills in tatting. This is eagerly awaited by a number of members in the group.
Last Wednesday was the first of many (we hope) where the group basked in the sunshine outside the shop whilst crafting! Jokes were made by passers by, asking if the group were casting for Last of the Summer Wine – Rosie volunteered to be Marina, but no takers for Nora Batty!
Newcomers are always welcome to pop in to be part of the excitement and to share hints and tips on the latest craft trends! So if you fancy a touch of crafting, pleasant company and a cheeky brew, stop by and join in the fun!