Launch of Forfar Fairtrade initiative

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THE Forfar Fairtrade Initiative was launched at a meeting organised by the Forfar and Area Partnership last week.

A good attendance and some excellent speakers combined to make an interesting and informative evening for all concerned.

The meeting was opened by Jeanette Gaul, chairperson of the Forfar and Area Partnership, who welcomed all in attendance and introduced the speakers for the evening. Jeanette also outlined the work of the Forfar and Area Partnership in support of Fairtrade and their desire to see the formation of a Steering Group to take forward a Fairtrade Initiative in Forfar.

The first speaker was Sally Romilly from the Dundee Fairtrade Forum, giving an excellent presentation on the background to Fairtrade and why it is important.

Using a combination of key facts, pictures and diagrams, Sally outlined why Fairtrade is important to producers in developing countries and what people in Forfar, Scotland and further afield can do to support it.

Sally was followed by Peter Stevens of the Montrose Fairtrade Forum, which was launched in 2005 and saw Montrose become Angus’ first Fairtrade town.

Peter gave details of the five Fairtrade goals that need to be met in order to qualify for Fairtrade status.

In a town of Forfar’s size it is necessary to have four retailers and two caterers offering Fairtrade products.

Peter stressed that the work does not end when Fairtrade status is gained, as the registration needs to be renewed and evidence provided to show that Fairtrade remains on offer in the town.

Peter stressed the importance of involving schools, churches, the Council, local businesses and community groups in the process and was pleased to see all of these sectors represented at the meeting.

Lee Haxton of the Local Community Planning Team then gave details of Angus Council’s commitment to Fairtrade, which stretches back to 2003.

As well as doing a lot of work within the Council to promote and use Fairtrade to employees, at meetings and in premises, the Council offers a variety of support to community groups who are interested in Fairtrade.

Lee also pointed out that Angus Council are currently working on a proposal to have Angus registered as a Fairtrade Zone.

Churches were up next and Graham Irving gave details of the work of the Angus Presbytery.

Graham is a Fairtrade Champion for the Presbytery and is heavily involved in Fairtrade work in his church at Lowson and with other churches across Forfar and Angus.

Graham stressed the churches commitment to the principles of Fairtrade and reaffirmed their support for a Fairtrade Initiative in Forfar.

Forfar Academy is doing a power of work in Fairtrade and Helen Waggot, a geography teacher at the school was on hand to provide details.

Forfar Academy has undertaken a number of Fairtrade-themed projects within the school and the wider community. The school has now put in place its own 5 point plan to gain Fairtrade School status and would be keen to work with a wider Fairtrade initiative in the town.

Once the speakers were finished, those in attendance were invited to put themselves forward as members of the Steering Group.

Six people came forward, representing local community groups, local business, churches, schools and Angus Council, which is an excellent start for the Forfar Fairtrade Initiative.

The Steering Group will now take the process forward and seek to spread the word across Forfar.

Ken Stewart, vice-chairperson of the Forfar and Area Partnership, thanked everyone for their attendance, particularly the speakers and those who had volunteered for the Steering Group.

Thanks were also offered to the Cooperative for hosting the meeting and providing refreshments, as well as an excellent display of Fairtrade products, which are available in store.

For more information on the Forfar Fairtrade Initiative, or the work of the Forfar and Area Partnership, contact Jeanette Gaul on 01307 464698, Ken Stewart on 01307 461338 or Lee Haxton 01575 576941 or haxtonl@angus.gov.uk