‘Fair Trade’ Speaker Event: A review

This blog is taken from our SIDshare Programme’s Officer, Matt Pearson’s personal blog, which can be viewed here.

About Matt:

I am involved in SIDshare because having been travelling in developing countries before, I have witnessed first-hand the amazing work that International Development projects can have in a community. Having learnt about the great work SIDshare do, I wanted to get involved, and hope I can help develop the projects through my role as a Programmes Officer.

fairtrade fair

Last week saw SIDshare host their Fair Trade speaker event, as part of Fair Trade fortnight. The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said, ‘all virtue is summed up by dealing justly’, and it was virtue that attendees came out feeling. Although his death came 2,324 years before the creation of the Fair Trade Foundation, the idea of trading fairly with producers is still a relatively modern idea and still not as available as would be hoped. For example 75% of bananas sold in the UK are not Fair Trade certified. The aim of Fair Trade Fortnight was to promote the cause and get more people thinking about the origin of their food, by encouraging people to buy Fair Trade goods and help farmers feed their families. The event hosted by SIDshare also had a similar aim, by encouraging participation between students at The University of Sheffield and our partners who work with Fair Trade values.

The event saw representatives from Traid Craft, The Sheffield Esteli Society, The Twin Cafe, Village Aid, Watermade, S.A.L.V.E. International and Aid Works talking to students about how they participate in Fair Trade. In addition, many of the partners also sold their Fair Trade goods, much to the delight of the attendees.

The event began with Heather, from Traid Craft, giving an insightful talk on some background to the Fair Trade movement and the role Traid Craft have played since its founding. Heather talked of the Traid Craft shop that used to be situated in the city centre before its unfortunate closure a few years ago, and mentioned lots of the fantastic projects that they ran from the shop. In addition, she also spoke of how brands gain Fair Trade certification and also explained some doubts she has as to the Rainforest Alliance certification.

This was closely followed by an energetic demonstration by Mike from The Twin Cafe. He showcased some of his fantastic black coffee and gave a coffee-tasting lesson to three coffee enthusiasts!

Coffee Tasting
Coffee enthusiasts from the crowd got a great lesson on how to ‘taste’ coffee!

 

Mike also gave an interesting talk on the history of The Twin Cafe, as a Sheffield couple related experiences in Thatcher’s Britain to the problems being faced in Esteli, Nicaragua. Through this appreciation of the hardship felt and a large amount of coffee bean going to waste, they imported the coffee and so decided to create The Twin Cafe to sell their produce. The coffee has a delicious, smooth, nutty taste to it- and it made a great Mother’s Day present!

After the crowd received their coffee fix, Genny from Watermade gave a brief yet interesting talk on the partnership between Watermade and Kids Club Kampala. She also spoke of how they work with The Long Well Walks to help combat problems associated with the availability of clean water in Africa. She finally spoke of the challenges faced by Watermade’s promise to invest 100% of public donations into the projects, which for me was one of the most interesting parts of the event as it is not everyday I consider these sorts of challenges faced by charities.

The event was enjoyable yet informative, and I would encourage anyone interested in Fair Trade, international development or anyone wanting to make the world a better place to get involved with these sorts of events. I would like to personally thank all those who attended: partners and students.

For more information on how to get involved with SIDshare or for information on any of our available placements with partner organisations, please contact us on sidshare@sheffield.ac.uk or visit our website http://sidshare.group.shef.ac.uk/. Alternatively, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates on our work.

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