Croydon Fairtrade Network

By - Wednesday 15th May, 2013

Fairtrade has been doing sterling work in (and for) Croydon. 18th May is an opportunity to recognise that

It will have escaped the notice of many residents, as it has done for the last ten years, but on Monday 22nd April Croydon council agreed to pass a resolution to continue supporting Fairtrade in the borough and therefore to renew our Fairtrade status for another two years.

Croydon, as everybody knows, was the first London borough to be accredited as a Fairtrade borough in 2003 as the then council agreed to purchase Fairtrade products in all the facilities it was responsible for – quite a commitment. A steering group of residents was set up and a Fairtrade shop called ‘Fair Enough’ was established down by the Minster. The council also appointed a Fairtrade Champion: a councillor who would promote Fairtrade within the council, be a contact point for the group, provide support when needed, and make sure that the council keeps to the resolution.

Over the last decade there have been numerous events that the group has attended or organised. They invited two Ghanian cocoa farmers who grow and sell cocoa to Divine Chocolate and Cadburys and supply cocoa butter to the Body Shop. During Fairtrade Fortnight and at other events, they have staffed numerous stalls in the Whitgift Centre, Clocktower Cafe, Central Library, Heathfield Heritage Fair, and a regular spot at the Croydon Green Fair where they have supplied refreshments.

Giving money to charities and causes is as simple as a text message these days. But giving up precious time at weekends requires a bigger commitment

The Fairtrade shop and the Fairtrade Champion may have gone by the wayside. But, to their credit, the steering group has kept going. They deserve the ten year anniversary celebration on May 18th in the Clocktower Café. Giving money to charities and causes is as simple as a text message these days. But giving up precious time at weekends requires a bigger commitment, and the steering group give their time generously.

As part of the renewal process and resolution-passing, the council has appointed a new Fairtrade Champion. Shirley councillor Richard Chatterjee said he was ‘honoured to be asked to be a champion’.

So Croydon moves forward, with a strong Fairtrade commitment, and we are delighted. Imagine how embarrassing it would have been to have the record of the first London Fairtrade borough but then also the first London borough to lose that status.

One part of the Fairtrade status which I hope to see an improvement in is promoting Fairtrade around the borough. I’ve been to some towns and seen banners on buildings or public realm signage that it is a Fairtrade town, and it’s obvious that they are proud of the fact. Perhaps here in Croydon there’s so much to be proud of and crow about (such as being mentioned in Iron Man 3!) that Fairtrade status is no big deal. Why mention it when we’ve got so much other great stuff to big up? Somehow I don’t think this is the reason…

The Croydon Fairtrade Network 10 year anniversary celebration is on the 18th May and is in the Clocktower Café. 11:00-13:00. Light refreshments served. All welcome.

Andrew Dickinson

Andrew Dickinson

I'm a long term resident of Croydon and I'm lucky to live and work in the borough. As a schoolboy my proudest moments were playing representative football for Croydon where I would fight tooth and nail to win for the borough and contribute towards its sporting reputation. For 18 years I worked up in London and became distanced from the town. Now I've re-engaged with the place over the last 20 years and feel frustrated in finding a way to vent my passion for Croydon (as I'm too old to play football) so I'm always on the lookout for any new initiatives to bring positivity to the place. I live on Bramley Hill with my lovely family and I have an allotment locally. I'm a keen amateur in gardening, environmentalism, permaculture, photography and website design. I'm an oyster mushroom farmer, run a social enterprise called Green Croydon, I'm part of the Croydon Fairtrade steering group, part of the Croydon ReUse Organisation, current chair of Croydon Transition Town and a community gardener; I'm on the borough Food Programme, Parks and Social Enterprise steering groups and a community apple presser. I currently work for the council as an officer creating and promoting community events in the beautiful Wandle Park. I put on the Croydon Environmental Fair each year and the Summer of Love theme and festival was something I dreamed up. I inspired the 'I would make Croydon better by' theme. There's also the Give and Take events in Surrey Street. I started the monthly Arts, Crafts and Vintage market in Exchange Square. Formerly I was a Turf Projects trustee, a Croydon Radio presenter and part of the Old Town business association.Between all this, I write the occasional article for the Citizen. I support local artists and local musicians by enabling the space for them to create I also support local independent journalism.

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