Letter - 27 October 2017

From Fairtrade to free-ranging


Okehampton Meeting raised a concern at Area Meeting about Sainsbury’s move away from Fairtrade Foundation accreditation on their economy tea to their own Fairly Traded scheme. We wanted to raise awareness of this change. The advice given was to write to the Friend.

Our concerns with this development are, first, that it will cause confusion among shoppers who are familiar with the Fairtrade Mark and trust its provenance.

Second, this could be the start of a trend. Will other products on Sainsbury’s shelves become Fairly Traded? Will other retailers follow suit?

The most important difference between the Sainsbury’s scheme and the regulations of the Fairtrade Mark is one of disempowerment for farmers over decisions relating to their social premium money, as decisions about the spending of this money will be made in London not in the communities who have earned it as part of their trade deal.

Third World producers who have visited us in Devon have always been very proud of the impact that their choices have made by using their social premium money for health, education or productivity initiatives.

The Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) is coordinating a day of action on Saturday 28 October to highlight the concerns outlined with a presence outside as many Sainsbury’s stores as possible.

I would encourage Friends to support this protest locally. There is also a petition (‘Sainsbury Don’t Ditch Fairtrade’).

Cynthia Higbee

Violence against women

After a collection for women’s refuge work in January, we in Gloucestershire Area Meeting were shocked to learn of widespread funding cuts in services for women and children fleeing domestic abuse and violence.

Our work since then has led us to ask: how can we usefully bring this matter to light? Is there a way we could learn from others and host an event to bring our experiences together?

So, this is an invitation to Friends in other Area Meetings to share information about refuges elsewhere. Are they still open? What efforts are being made to resist cuts to their funding?

Some may think that gender inequality is a thing of the past. Persistent violence against women says otherwise – along with the everyday, routine experience of casual sexism.

Like others across the country, our local small refuge actually provides a national service to women who cannot remain safely in their own communities: representing, in the words of one report, a regular pattern of forced migration here in this country.

We would be glad to hear from any other Friends doing work in this area

Andrea Rigby, John Geale and Jane Mace

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