MILLOM – The first FAIRTRADE Town in Copeland!
LOOKING FORWARD – LOOKING BACK
Looking back to where it all began in 2002, in the sad days of the foot & mouth outbreak in Cumbria, we recalled the Lent course which challenged us: ‘Don’t just talk about it, do it!’ So we did.
At first, as many did at the time, we joined the county’s fundraising efforts to help farmers who had lost their livelihoods. But what should we do in the future? We wanted to raise Millom’s awareness of how, in this age of globalisation, unfair trade rules were – and still are – affecting the developing nations and the deprived areas of the western world, including some areas of Cumbria. The Millom Town Council was kind enough to listen to and support unanimously our setting up of the “One World Project”, with the goal of achieving Fairtrade Town status. Fairtrade because as well as helping local producers, this organisation was concerned to help small producers abroad who struggle to provide food and education for their families. We wanted people to know Millom as the positive, caring community it is, rather than the negative headlines we so often read, and to enhance its image in the interests of trade and tourism.
From the beginning, we have had the support of the majority of businesses, organisations and churches in Millom & District, either by using Fairtrade tea & coffee on their premises or selling Fairtrade products. We campaigned with talks and events for local organisations and took the message into schools – it wasn’t unusual to hear youngsters telling parents, ‘Don’t buy that, buy the Fairtrade one’, and they weren’t slow to explain why! People often ask why Fairtrade goods are a little more expensive -that’s because the farmers are guaranteed a price higher than the world price at the time of harvest, plus an additional “Premium” is paid to the communities of the organic producers in Fairtrade cooperatives. The “Premium” payment is for the benefit of the whole community who decide what to use it for; Healthcare, Education, Clean Water, Solar Powered Lighting to name a few.
Our efforts with events to raise awareness of these issues gained us Fairtrade Town status in 2004. Millom became the second Fairtrade Town in Cumbria and the first in Copeland. An incredible achievement! We celebrated with a parade, including all the youth and other organisations who were able to walk with us – perhaps you remember it or took part?
We have continued to promote Fairtrade locally as well as encouraging community support for local businesses. If you are or know a business that uses or has available two Fairtrade products such as sugar and tea, they will qualify for a framed certificate which helps with the evidence we need to retain Millom’s Fairtrade status every two years. Please do let us know.
In 2013 with local supporters’ agreement, our title was changed to ‘Fairtrade Local And Global’…FLAG… to cover both aspects of our efforts.
Our events over these 20 years, have included the annual Birthday Supper, Pancake Parties, Banana-eating challenge for school – 250 bananas supplied by the Co-op, Cheese & Wine evening when FT certificates of appreciation were presented to all businesses & organisations (including the Council) in Millom & District who support Fairtrade in a practical way. Tasting events in Tesco as well as Fairtrade products displayed plus Ceilidhs, Fashion Shows, Beach Art, Big Breakfasts, Schools Competitions, and of course Coffee Mornings.
The work goes on to make trade fair throughout the world and Millom’s contribution is significant. At the Fairtrade North Regional Conference in Sunderland, Millom, nominated by Joe Human MBE, won the award for ‘The Most Inspiring Fairtrade Town in the North Region’. A fantastic achievement for our town.
However, with the Pandemic our committee members have reduced significantly and we had to consider if “all good things must come to an end”? Could we, realistically, keep going? Without the group organising events, Millom would lose its Fairtrade status which would be a significant loss for the community. So in March we took this concern to the Town Council where we received unanimous support, as well as being partnered with councillor Bob Kelly, to ensure that the town’s Fairtrade status is valued and upheld. But, we are still short of ‘feet on the ground’, to help initiate and run events or just to come and help.
Volunteers from the original 2002 group are still actively represented by Susan Troll, Peter Grayson and Joan Newling. The current Steering group also includes Val Towndrow, Geraldine Lancaster, Felicity and Doug Wilson, Jean Liney and Lorraine Wilson as well as many faithful supporters of our events.
Now, as the more ‘mature’ members of our community; we would love to hear from anyone who has ideas for new approaches to being a Fairtrade Town; especially the younger members of our community who could help to influence making our world and our community a “Fairer” place in their own way. If so, you will be joining a creative and fun group of people who will give you every support and encouragement in achieving your goals.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
[Secretary for Millom F.L.A.G. Fairtrade Local and Global]