Fairtrade gold pioneer coming to Oxford

DYNAMIC Fair Trade pioneer Greg Valerio, who helped bring Fairtrade gold to market, will be the keynote speaker at a Shrove Tuesday Fairtrade event for churches.

The event – which will also offer a chance to enjoy pancakes with Fairtrade toppings – will take place at Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm on Tuesday 28 February. It’s co-sponsored by the Diocese of Oxford, CCOW, Fair Trade at St Michael’s and the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition.

Greg Valerio during a trip to Choco Columbia to pan for gold in 2004. Photo: Lion Hudson

Greg received an MBE for his role in helping small-scale miners and developing Fairtrade gold, and was the Observer Ethical Awards Global Campaigner in 2011. His biography notes:

“Standing in a filthy mine in India he called the ‘gateway to hell’ convinced Greg he had to be not only a budding retail jeweller – but also a campaigner on behalf of those who were being exploited at the source.” Since then he’s worked tirelessly with miners and reformers to confront industry giants and power brokers and to bring human rights and environmental justice to the jewellery value chain. Come and hear more about his story, his faith, the amazing people he’s worked with, and how your church can get involved with Fairtrade around the Diocese.

Click here to register or call 01235 851763.

Fairtrade chocolate production comes to the Diocese


THE Fairtrade chocolate used in the 2016 Real Easter Egg is being produced in Banbury this year as a result of increasing demand.

Photographs of the Real Easter Eggs with Bishop Collin at Barry Callebaut factory in Banbury

Bishop Colin tests his chocolate making skills with Keiran Shaw, a technical advisor at the Barry Callebaut factory in Banbury. Photo: John Cairns

More than a million Real Easter Eggs have been sold in the last five years and in a recent public poll The Real Easter Egg was voted the UK’s favourite Fairtrade Easter Egg. This popularity means that such a large volume of chocolate is now needed that production has moved to the Barry Callebaut factory in Oxfordshire. The Real Easter Egg was launched in 2010 following a trial involving churches in the Oxford Diocese. It was UK’s first Fairtrade egg to include a copy of the Easter story in the box and is still the only charity egg. The 2016 Easter story booklet, which opens out into a cross shape, has been produced in partnership with the Oxfordshire based Lion Hudson publishers.

By Easter 2016 The Meaningful Chocolate Company, which makes the egg, expects to have given away more than £200,000 to charitable causes from its sales.It has seen sales of Fairtrade chocolate increase which means a bigger Fairtrade Premium is paid to farmers who grow the sugar and Cacao. (Cocoa and chocolate are made from Cacao beans.)The cash from the Fairtrade premium can be used to invest in their communities, buying everything from schoolbooks to solar panels and providing fresh water supplies.

David Marshall, CEO of The Meaningful Chocolate Company, said: “The move to Banbury means the Real Easter Egg is now a fully UK manufactured product. We have also taken the opportunity to improve our blend of chocolate so it is better than ever. Our customers include ethical retailer Traidcraft and hundreds of independent retailers. We sell direct to thousands of customers, churches and schools and our eggs are also stocked at Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose.”
The Acting Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, said: “The Real Easter Egg began its public life in 2009 encouraged by individuals, churches and schools in the Oxford Diocese. So it is fitting that sales are now sufficient to warrant Fairtrade chocolate being moved to Banbury, which is in this Diocese. I pray for all those involved, the workforce, the creative team behind the idea and those who will read the Easter story for the first time this Easter and discover the Good News of hope and new life.”

Order your Real Easter Eggs  here or call 0845 122 2882.

Brewing up for Faitrade Fortnight

Fairtraders are ready for a Big Brew with Bishop Colin in Yarnton, Oxfordshire. Photo: Maranda St John Nicolle.

Fairtraders are ready for a Big Brew with Bishop Colin in Yarnton, Oxfordshire. Photo: Maranda St John Nicolle.

AROUND the diocese, churches are planning to put the kettle on so that Traidcraft’s Big Brew can mark its 10th year with an “extra strong” celebration.

The Big Brew takes place annually in Fairtrade Fortnight. Churches and other groups are invited to hold an event with Fairtrade refreshments, raising awareness of the range of Fairtrade products available and how Fairtrade helps small producers worldwide.
Churches can also raise money for Traidcraft Exchange, the organisation’s charitable wing, which funds research, supports projects and engages in advocacy that helps some of the world’s most marginalised producers.

Over the past decade churches in the Oxford Diocese have hosted some memorable Big Brews – highlights include events like the “Any Brew Will Do” celebration at Purley, featuring Fairtrade fruit kebabs and a Fairtrade puppets show, and Crowthorne Mothers’ Union’s “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” and Fairtrade film night. In 2010 there was even an episcopal “Big Brew,” gathering together Oxfordshire Fairtrade reps at Bishop Colin’s.

This year is no different: in churches like All Saints, Loughton, in Milton Keynes, which will be holding a Big Brew after the service on 1 March; and Garsington in Oxfordshire, which is planning a soup lunch and Fairtrade stall for the previous Saturday – the creative juices are flowing. There’s an added incentive to make this year special: the UK Government has said that it will double all money raised by Big Brews and sent to Traidcraft by 3 April. The doubled money will enable Traidcraft Exchange to help small farmers around the world to grow crops more efficiently, earn more money for them, and have the resources to feed and raise their families.

“Tour de Fair” cyclists celebrate Fair Trade

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AS the Tour de France Grand Depart saw massive celebrations at the start point in Yorkshire  keen cyclists took to their bikes for a Tour de Fair of Oxfordshire.

Alison Merryweather and Sue Campbell get ready to pedal.

Alison Merryweather and Sue Campbell get ready to pedal.

Fair Trade supporters pedalled around key fair trade centres, starting in Witney, the world’s 1,000th Fair Trade Town. Alison Merryweather-Clarke, tower captain of North Leigh parish church and a member of the Witney Area Fair Trade Action Group, and Sue Campbell, churchwarden at North Leigh, launched the event, cycling from Witney to Woodstock, where they visted One Village, one of the first Fair Trade enterprises in the UK, which started in 1979.

There they were met by Roy Strong, the shop’s founder. They then moved to the Town Hall, where the Mayor, Julian Cooper ; Deputy-Mayor Mary Robinson ; and District Councillor Elizabeth Poskitt, a member of Fair Trade in Oxfordshire, staged a reception. Woodstock supports Fair Trade as part of its “Sustainable Woodstock” initiative, which has also engaged in various environmental initiatives over the years, including creating a community woodland and encouraging the use of solar panels. Cllr Cooper said: “Fair Trade is very much a community initiative. We do feel that it’s something that helps us to show the green credentials of Woodstock and our connection with other bits of the world.”

Cyclist Sue Campbell said: “I believe that cycling and Fair Trade can both be good ways of life. They are both fair to the environment and fair to all people. We do so much damage to the environment in so many of the ways we live, and by cycling and by buying Fair Trade you are ensuring greater justice and greater sustainability for the future.”

Cyclist Alison Merryweather-Clarke said: “I think it’s important to choose products which guarantee a fair wage to vulnerable producers. There is such a wide variety of Fairtrade products available now – my current favourites include sparkling wine and unusual flavours of herbal teas, and supporting these brands helps suppliers in the developing world support their families. The Tour de Fair is just a small way to raise awareness and celebrate our commitment to fairly traded products.”

On Saturday, 5 July, Janet Warren, a member of St Mary’s, Kidlington and the Kidlington Fair Trade Group, cycled from Woodstock to Kidlington, joined for part of the way by Maranda St John Nicolle, Coordinator of Christian Concern for One World and convener of Fair Trade in Oxfordshire.  Kidlington Fair Trade Group is making preparations for a “One World Market” offering fairly traded and environmentally friendly goods. The event, which will be held on , is a continuation of the parish’s “Fair Trade Christmas Fair,” which has been a resounding success for the past six years. Janet Warren said: “Buying Fairtrade is such an easy thing to do to get the benefits of trade a bit more balanced. And the quality of products is superb nowadays. Why wouldn’t you buy Fairtrade?”

Ms St John Nicolle then cycled from Kidlington to Oxford. Oxford is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary as a Fairtrade City: Fairtrade products can be found widely throughout its shops, cafes and restaurants, and there are numerous schools, places of worship, and key employers which support Fairtrade. The city also contains several dedicated Fair Trade shops, including Fair Trade at St Michael’s, housed at St Michael’s at the North Gate, where the “Tour de Fair” drew to a conclusion, and the Headington Churches Together shop, The Windmill, which had a special “Tour de France” window.

Maranda St John Nicolle said: “Oxfordshire has a strong Fair Trade heritage, with some of the country’s – and the world’s – Fairtrade pioneers based here. In recent years, we’ve seen growth in the number of Fairtrade Towns, Fairtrade Churches, Fairtrade Schools and other bodies supporting Fairtrade. It’s wonderful that our county has so many people working together for a better, fairer world – and great that so many people from our diocese are involved! The idea for the “Tour de Fair” came from friends of The Oxford Fair Trade Coalition in Carinthia, Austria. We’re glad they shared the idea with us and we had a super time doing this first “Tour.” Next year, we hope to do a longer “Tour de Fair,” taking in more Fair Trade sites.”

Fairly sculpted

Pupils and teachers from St Nicholas CE Primary School, Oxford, show off their creations after they celebrated Fairtrade Fortnight by using Fairtrade wrappers to make a range of sculptures. Photo by KT Bruce. St Nicholas school MW5A0300 (1)