Congratulations to the people of Aberystwyth and Penparcau! In August this year, the Fairtrade Foundation renewed Aberystwyth’s Fairtrade town status in recognition of the awareness of and support for Fairtrade in the local community.
Positive action to promote Fairtrade in Aberystwyth began in March 2004 when the Co-op Group organised a public meeting to explain the aims of Fairtrade – to guarantee better prices and working conditions to poor producers in developing countries. Following this meeting, a group of people acting either as individuals or representing local businesses (Oxfam and Maeth y Meysydd) or organisations (Tradecraft) decided to set up a local group with a two-fold purpose: to promote a greater awareness of Fairtrade in Aberystwyth and to work towards achieving Fairtrade town status. The setting up of a local campaign group, Masnach Deg – Aberystwyth – Fairtrade, was one of the five goals that had to be achieved by communities to achieve Fairtrade status; another of the goals, a formal decision by the town council to support Fairtrade through the use of certified products in the office and at official functions, had been achieved already in September 2003.
Early in 2005, the Fairtrade Foundation, the national organisation monitoring and promoting Fairtrade, conferred Fairtrade status on Aberystwyth and Penparcau; this was declared on St David’s Day 2005 which placed Aberystwyth and Penparcau among the first 100 Fairtrade towns in the UK. Since then, the availability of Fairtrade certified products in local shops and cafés has increased, and more small businesses and local organisations have declared support for Fairtrade.
During Fairtrade Fortnight (February/March each year), members of Fairtrade together with local supporters of Fairtrade have hosted visits by Fairtrade producers from a variety of different developing countries: Windward Islands, India, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, El Salvador and the West Bank Palestinian Occupied Territory. Other group activities to promote Fairtrade have included Fairtrade Breakfasts, a Fairtrade Fashion Show, a Fairtrade Penalty Shoot-out and ‘Bag a Banana’ events. The recent successful renewal of the town’s Fairtrade status shows that there is continuing active support for Fairtrade in Aberystwyth.
Local interest in the promotion of Fairtrade by individuals, organisations and businesses is welcomed by members of Masnach Deg – Aberystwyth – Fairtrade; the group can be contacted through the Secretary, Arnold Smith (tel. 01970 611769).