22 November 2016
Exeter successfully renews its Fairtrade status
One of my key priorities when I was appointed Lead Councillor for Communities and Neighbourhoods was to ensure that Exeter was would received renewal of its Fairtrade status.
Earlier today we heard back from the Fairtrade Foundation informing us that we have have had our Fairtrade City Status renewed.
As I Chair the Exeter Fairtrade Steering Group, I wish to pay tribute to everyone who has put so much effort, time, energy and creativity into ensuring as successful Fairtrade City renewal application.
The renewal letter
Congratulations to you and your group for successfully renewing Fairtrade City status for Exeter. Please find enclosed your new Fairtrade City renewal certificate.
We have enjoyed hearing about everything that you have achieved since your town last renewed Fairtrade status. It is clear that a lot of time and energy has been put in to make Fairtrade a part of the community, so we would like to pass on our congratulations and say thank you to everyone who has been involved. From your renewal form it is apparent that Fairtrade is continuing to grow in 2016 and we were particularly impressed with your engagement with schools through the organisation of the conference for Fairtrade Fortnight.
The conference sounds as if it was a great way to engage and educate local children about Fairtrade and where the foods we take for granted come from. The wide range of activities that you have run for Fairtrade Fortnight in recent years shows great initiative and outreach. For instance, the regular city centre fairs sound like they are very successful at raising awareness and were made even more effective by the addition of the smoothie bike this year. Alongside this, the involvement that you have with other events throughout the year is something to be proud of and shows the growing role that you are playing within the community. It’s great to see a wide range of diverse organisations and people on your steering group. The active involvement of the Council is very positive as is the high number of people on the mailing list. This is furthered by the broader connections that you have made, both with the Devon Fairtrade group and other Exeter based organisations such as Exeter Food Action. It’s great to see your group making strategic decisions, such as recognising the diminishing value of a Fairtrade directory. Building your relationships with local businesses to have Fairtrade promoted on their own websites will be a great way to raise awareness and engagement.
Looking to the future, it is encouraging that you have clear plans for the events and activities that you will continue to run and how you can build on them. While it is good that you feel that you can play a role in connecting interested parties with others and the wider movement, perhaps it would be possible to bring some of these wider organisations back into the steering group to bring other perspectives and ideas to the table. Furthermore, would it be possible to reach out to other faith groups who may not be as aware of Fairtrade and could also incorporate it within their activities. This could be a way of widening the reach of Fairtrade in Exeter and expand on your already impressive number of interested parties.
Overleaf we have included some web links which may provide useful information for your campaign, however if you have any more specific questions or anything that you would like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The next renewal will be due on 21 November 2018, when we will invite you to reflect on this action plan, and develop your objectives and plans for the following two years.
Congratulations again and best wishes with your continued campaigning!
Communities Campaigns Officer
Exeter became a Fairtrade City in June 2004 and renewed its status successfully in 2014.
Following local elections in May the steering group has a new chair, Cllr Paul Bull, who has been keen to review how to take the group and the campaign forward.
Exeter continues to meet the five goals for a Fairtrade Town:
Over the last two years the group has continued with a successful programme of promotional activities during Fairtrade Fortnight and across the rest of the year and built strong partnerships with other organisations such as Exeter Food Action. We also have a strong link with the Devon Fairtrade Steering group on which we have two representatives and play an active role. This gives the Exeter group access to Devonwide and regional activities, as well as dialogue with the Fairtrade Foundation as part of our campaigning role
There are a lot of organisations across the city who support Fairtrade and hold events throughout the year to promote Fairtrade such as churches, schools,the University and the Met Office. However the steering group has not always found it possible to engage some of these groups in the steering group itself, although some do have links with the Devon group. With this in mind the steering group feels it would be better to acknowledge the situation and instead develop a strategic role as a connector of organisations with each other and with the Fairtrade movement.
Below is the list of our proposed objectives for 2016 to 2018 followed by a summary of our main achievements and activities since 2014 set against the previous objectives
New objectives for 2016 – 2018
Evaluation of progress against 2014 to 2016 objectives
The Council has maintained strong involvement with the campaign and provides officer time to co-ordinate the steering group and provide administrative support as well as a small budget to help purchase campaigning materials. There is cross party support for the group which is chaired by a member of the Executive. “Renew Exeter’s Fairtrade City status and seek additional partners and new support for this initiative” is included as a Portfolio Holder priority for 2016-17.
During Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 and 2015 Fairtrade articles featured in the Council’s staff newsletter City News, and posters and leaflets were prominently displayed around council buildings. A Fairtrade Christmas tree was also on display in the Customer Service Centre during December 2014.
The Lord Mayor has also been involved and in 2015 invited the visiting Fairtrade producer to the Guildhall for tea and a tour of the building.
The Council continues to use Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar at meetings and at the Guildhall and Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Fairtrade options are also available in the staff vending machine. The city leisure centre contractors are obliged to provide Fairtrade options in their food outlets.
Exeter Fairtrade City Steering Group has ten active members from across a number of different areas including the Co-operative Party, Waitrose, Exeter Food Action, Oxfam, Traidcraft, a local church and individual activists. But a total of 30 people receive mailings from us and are active campaigners even if they are not normally able to attend meetings which are held approximately five times a year at the Council offices.
We have been continually seeking to build on this membership and we maintain good links with the Devon Steering Group to ensure good use of limited resources. For example we have loaned out our banana costumes to other groups and the university provided us with items for use at our events via this group.
Our links with schools have been building and in Fairtrade Fortnight 2016 we were able to organise a conference with one secondary and three primary schools.
We have continued to develop our partnership with Exeter Food Action who joined us at our city centre event during Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 and 2016 to take food donations for local charities in exchange for a Fairtrade tea or coffee.
With all this in mind we believe we are successful at connecting organisations together and connecting them to the Fairtrade movement and that this is where we should concentrate our efforts for the future. For example we know that a number of churches are committed to Fairtrade and hold talks, Fairtrade and Traidcraft stalls and Fairtrade coffee mornings but we struggle to get them involved in the steering group itself. We also want to expand that connector role to include local businesses and will be working with the council’s Economy directorate to look at how best to do this.
In 2012 we moved our directory of businesses selling Fairtrade goods to a website hosted by South West Fairtrade (Exeter Fairtrade Directory). It has been difficult to maintain this other than on an ad hoc basis because of the number of entries and the lack of volunteer resource to visit all the venues.
We have only received one or two requests per year to join the directory and it is difficult to see its continued relevance when so many high street stores stock Fairtrade items. The directory itself is not very user friendly on mobile devices and we also believe that the way people search the web for information has changed. People now expect individual businesses to promote their support for Fairtrade on their own sites and are unlikely to search the directory.
We will continue to update the directory when requests or amendments are received but otherwise this is not a priority area for us. Instead we will examine how we can promote retailers that sell Fairtrade goods when we start looking at how to develop our relationship with local businesses.
We have received good coverage from the media in general including items in the local newspaper but as social media has taken off we made more use of that. The Council and many individual Councillors use Twitter and Facebook so we were able to retweet messages from Fairtrade Foundation, send out information and post Exeter Fairtrade events.
In each of the last two years the council tweets were seen by around 9,000 people.
In readiness for Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 we will produce a leaflet to hand out giving information about Fairtrade and how people can get involved in Exeter.
We held Fairtrade Fairs in Exeter City Centre during Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 and 2016 including stalls from Oxfam, Traidcraft and Waitrose. We also held a food swap in conjunction with Exeter Food Action where people were asked to bring a non-Fairtrade item of food to donate to the food banks in exchange for a free Fairtrade tea or coffee.
We adopted the Foundation theme in both years and for the breakfast theme of 2016 were also able to use a smoothie bike for making breakfast smoothies. One of our members also made delicious cookies to give away with a recipe card to encourage people to use Fairtrade products in their home cooking. The Co-operative donated sample items to give out and Waitrose provided the refreshments for the food swap with Exeter Food Action as well as free bananas.
During the summer of 2015 and 2016 we also had a stall at several summer fairs around the city including the Respect Festival and Exeter Green Fayre.
During Christmas 2015 the group adopted one of the charity Christmas trees which go up in the Princesshay shopping centre. This was decorated with Fairtrade bunting, decorations and presents to remind shoppers about considering Fairtrade when buying Christmas gifts. The tree was up for seven weeks from mid November until after the New Year. We are pleased that Princesshay have offered to provide another tree for us this Christmas.
We plan to repeat the Fairtrade Fair in the City Centre annually and have a presence again at the summer fairs and other city wide events.
This and the tea with the Lord Mayor were held successfully in 2015 but unfortunately for Fairtrade Fortnight 2016 the visiting producer had to pull out of the programme at relatively short notice. This meant some of the events the group usually plans such as these were cancelled as they were heavily reliant on the producer’s presence to make them a success.
The group will revisit these events in our planning for Fairtrade Fortnight 2017.