Category Archives: Wycombe News

High Wycombe Forms Global Links for Fairtrade!

For the last few years, High Wycombe Fairtrade has been forging links with the Fairtrade town of Grecia and neighbouring Fairtrade coffee and sugar producer, Coope Victoria, in Costa Rica.

The linking stemmed from a conversation which took place at the International Fairtrade Town Conference in Madrid in 2018. Three members of Wycombe for Fairtrade attended the conference and whilst there, happened to meet Maria, the Sustainability Manager from CoopeVictoria. From this initial dialogue, a very productive and active link has been established.

In 2019 Maria visited High Wycombe on route to the International Fairtrade Towns Conference in Cardiff. Whilst with us, she visited a number of shops and cafes in the town selling Fairtrade products including Hills Community Cafe in Micklefield, Ruby Moon, Oxfam and the Air Raid Shelter Cafe to name just some. She had a meeting with Maz, the Mayor, and also visited Bewley’s (a large wholesaler of Fairtrade products) on the Cressex Industrial Estate. At the International Fairtrade Towns Conference she, along with Matt (our deputy mayor), Mike (chairman of our group) and Jhon (also a member of our group with Spanish as his first language) led a workshop entitled “Town Linking: A story of friendship ” at which they shared their experiences of forging links with each other.

The Costa Rican ambassador kindly agreed to present High Wycombe’s Fairtrade Town renewal certificate to the Mayor of High Wycombe in a meeting which took place in January 2020 and a document establishing the Fairtrade High Wycombe/Grecia agreement  (including the CoopeVictoria cooperative) has now been signed by the Mayors of both towns, the Director of CoopeVictoria and Wycombe for Fairtrade Chairman, Mike King (a copy of the document is also on display at the Costa Rican embassy in London). Plans are currently underway to establish dialogues between schools in the two towns, so that students can derive benefit from communicating with each other. This joint venture will provide opportunities for students to develop Spanish/English language skills, to develop and compare the economics of Fairtrade and the links with environmental projects being carried out in both countries.

It is also hoped that coffee from CoopeVictoria can be marketed by a company in the UK, particularly as this producer has recently been awarded First Place in the annual prestigious Costa Rica Fairtrade Gold Cup competition for the quality of their coffee, for the third consecutive year!

It is very worthwhile to have developed this direct link between consumers and producers in the Fairtrade system and many further fruitful discussions and developments are expected to spring from this in the future.

Wycombe for Fairtrade to become a member of the Bucks Climate Action Group

The Decision

In its February 2021 meeting, the Steering Group of Wycombe discussed the merits of joining the Buckinghamshire Climate Action Alliance organization. 

There was a unanimous decision to back and support this alliance as climate change, climate justice, environmental degradation, and sustainability are becoming ever more important elements of fair trade generally, and with fair trade farmers and producers facing the brunt of climatic extremes caused largely by developed world policies and corporate neglect. 

Therefore, Wycombe Fairtrade will become an official member of this pressure group operating at county level and support action to ensure that the new Buckinghamshire Council gives due consideration to global warming and climate change issues, and takes measures to ensure a renewable resources base with “green energy” wherever possible.

Bucks Climate Action Alliance

The Bucks Climate Action Alliance (BCAA) is an umbrella organisation enabling all Bucks organisations and groups concerned about the Climate Crisis and Biodiversity Loss, to come together as one powerful voice, calling on Bucks Council to ACT NOW.

BCAA Mission

  • To persuade Buckinghamshire Council to acknowledge that there is a Climate Emergency.
  • Urgent action is required to meet Net Zero Emissions across the county now.
  • Embed potential climate change impacts as a key factor in all decision making across all the council’s policies and functions.
  • Ensure awareness of climate change threats to all residents and businesses in the county, and encourage appropriate action.

Actions

  • Evaluating Council strategy and giving constructive feedback
  • Raising important questions at Council Committee meetings
  • Co-ordinated Letter writing campaigns to highlight depth of feeling in  the county       
  • Engagement with Community Boards to champion the climate in local decisions.

Group Members Include

CAN-Risborough; The Chiltern Society; Sustainable Chesham; Speen Environmental Action Group; Bucks WI; Believers Action on Climate Change; MarlowCAN [an alliance of Marlow environmental groups); XR Chesham; Chesham4Fairtrade Steering Group; Chiltern Peace and Justice Group; Aylesbury Vale XR; Dan’s Refill Store in Chalfont St Peter; Wycombe Friends of the Earth; Risborough Environmental Group; Population Matters; and Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group.

For further details see the Bucks Climate Action Alliance (BCAA) website

Values

The Pathways for Change document describes and gives examples of the actions likely to be required by Buckinghamshire Council and others to address the Climate Emergency that we should all collectively be working towards.

BCAA seeks to prevent extreme weather like the 2020 UK floods affecting the county of Buckinghamshhire by the Council taking measures to ensure that decisions and policies made by the Council include adequate climate action responses to reduce t global warming and occurrences of severe weather extremes.

High Wycombe Fairtrade Churches & Faith Groups “Think Tank” – 7th March 2020

Location: Christ The Servant King Church

Heather Searle from CSK opened the event attended by people from 5 local Wycombe churches by giving a very appropriate sermon on the biblical values of helping people less fortunate than oneself with relevant passages from the Old and New Testaments, transferring those caring and sharing values to the present time and comparing these to the principles promoted by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Margaret Dykes, a local and noted Traidcraft representative and speaker highlighted her experiences of 25 years working with one of the founder members of the Fairtrade organization and her work and projects with schools and churches, promoting the values and dedication that farmers and growers inject into their products. She described what the Fairtrade mark means to producers who are trying to trade their way out of poverty in an economic system which is dominated by large transnational companies who largely adopt unfair business practices.

Angharad Hopkinson, the Fairtrade Churches and Faith Groups Coordinator from the Fairtrade Foundation gave a presentation entitled “Changing the Story”. The talk encompassed biblical passages and themes which related to present day social justice and human rights e.g. “The spoil of the poor are in your houses” (Isaiah 3). She drew attention to the UK chocolate industry currently worth in excess of £4 billion per annum, yet cocoa farmers in the Cote D’Ivoire earn less than $1 per day. She reflected on the verse from Matthew 22 – “You should love your neighbour as yourself”. There were stories from African cocoa farmers like Lucia and Theresa who both lived in extreme poverty until they joined the local Fairtrade Cava Cooperative. Theresa stated that “When I am selling my cocoa through Cava Cooperative, the price is requested (guaranteed)”, and Lucia added that “Cocoa is our hope”. Fairtrade gives people dignity, respect, economic guarantees and the Fairtrade Premium provides schooling and higher education for their children She closed by saying that in a recent report by Oxfam in 2019 entitled, ”Time to Care” –  “The world’s 22 richest men have more combined wealth than all 325 million women in Africa”. A sobering thought!

Maranda St.John Nicolle

Waiting printed notes – No powerpoint

Mike King’s illustrated powerpoint presentation highlighted the threats imposed by climate change to small-scale Fairtrade farmers and producers in developing countries. Drought; floods; desertification; melting glaciers and ice caps; uncertain rainfall; and the increase in greenhouse gases over the last three decades are all impacting on agricultural producers, even though they have not caused the underlying reasons for climate change. However, with years of experience on their land, soil preservation measures, water retention, tree planting, crop diversification, and the introduction of quicker-growing disease resistant seeds and hybrid plants, and the agronomic expertise from Fairtrade; World Coffee Research Institute; IRRI; and World Trade Organisation researchers themselves, small scale farmers are quick to adapt to changing conditions and adopt appropriate technology. With sustainable and organic farming methods predominating, the use of hybrid plants and careful husbandry, farmers are in a position to slow down climate change through these practices by becoming custodians of the land as well as living and working in harmony with nature.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 – Wycombe

Events attended and arranged by Wycombe Fairtrade Steering Group 23rd Feb to Sun 7th March

Monday 2nd March 2020.

Mike King attended an event at Bath University jointly sponsored by Bath University; Bewley’s UK; Bristol Link to Nicaragua; and the Students Union of Bath University. There were a series of presentations and talks by  Rob Smyth, from the Fairtrade Foundation about the current situation on Fairtrade coffee; a female coffee grower from the Nicaraguan Fairtrade coffee producer SOPPEXCCA, a union of 18 coffee cooperatives. Gloria focused on the challenges to female coffee growers and their resilience and invention to develop new products through adversity. Louise Whitaker from Bewley’s UK, a national wholesaler and coffee roaster., gave a very informative address looking at the valuable role women play in Fairtrade, and especially in the growing of coffee and developing community spirit and harmony and even becoming managers of their own coffee land and developing their own sidelines, diversifying the economy anas well as ensuring money was funding local education, health, and social projects.

Thursday 5th March 2020

This Traidcraft Coffee Boffin Quiz  took place at the Christ The Servant King Church, Open Door Cafe for retired people and those with learning difficulties. The Quiz was well received with 25 to 30 people working in small groups and teams. Sustained by Fairtrade coffee, tea , and biscuits, the groups were very engaged and improved their knowledge of coffee varieties, the many hazards of growing coffee, and the wide diversity of flavours. The first three winners received Fairtrade chocolate, biscuits and of course. Fairtrade coffee.

Sunday 8th March 2020

Traidcraft stall run by Sheena and Mike King raised over £500.00 as well as selling and taking orders for Fairtrade Meaningful Chocolate Company Easter eggs. As usual the clergy and the parishioners were very supportive of the Fairtrade cause and bought a range of goods. Fairtrade bamboo socks were very popular.

Saturday 7th March 2020

Christ The Servant king Church in conjunction with the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group  hosted a “Fairtrade Churches and Fairth Groups Think Tank” event from 10.30am to 1.00 pm. The purpose was to encourage members from other church groups to think about Fairtrade in its wider and deeper aspects, especially what the scriptures say about helping the poor and those in need. Corona virus threats and a conflicting church event in High Wycombe meant that only around 24 people attended from 5 different churches. Heather Searle led a 20-minute service and gave a very pertinent talk about people help themselves with a little encouragement. Speakers ranged from Margaret Dykes talking about her Traidcraft experiences over 25 years; Angharad Hopkinson, focusing on how to “Change the Story” of poverty using biblical references  from Isaiah 3 and Matthew 22. Two female cocoa farmers stated that Fairtrade had through the local Cava Cooperative, a sense of dignity, guaranteed incomes, and the chance to invest in health and education for their children. It was a message of hope. Maranda St John Nicolle echoed this hope by relating her perspectives and experiences in her tours of Southern Africa representing Christian Concern for One World. It is a Christian duty to help others and a theme promoted by other world religions. Finally Mike King looked at the current and future affects of climate change upon small-scale Fairtrade farmers in developing countries, both the negative and positive, and their responses to this in adapting decades of local knowledge of the land while applying appropriate technology. Although small in numbers, people seemed to have been informed and understood the deeper and wider social, economic, ecological, cultural and religious aspects that Fairtrade encompasses.

We would like to see

  • More Churches and Faith Groups in High Wycombe apply to the Fairtrade Foundation for registering as a Fairtrade Church/Faith Group.
  • Engage with more young people from a variety of faiths to get involved with Fairtrade projects, maybe in relation to schools.
  • More churches to have sessions like this or repeat them every one or two years.
  • Liaise more with and utilize online resources from the Churches and Faith Groups Coordinator from the Fairtrade Foundation.
  • Work with other churches in Wycombe to broaden the understanding of Fairtrade and what it means to the produces and farmers.
  • In trying to link the Fairtrade Towns of Wycombe and Grecia (Costa Rica), work towards linking some churches and congregations together.

Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade

“Fairtrade Think Tank” on 7th March 2020

Churches and Faith Groups “Fairtrade Think Tank” Event at Christ the Servant King Church,

Sycamore Road, Booker, High Wycombe on Saturday 7th March 2020. 10.30am to 1.00pm

Programme and Speakers

10.30  – 10.45 am – Fairtrade Coffee,Tea, and Biscuits.

10.45 – 11.05am  – Fairtrade Church Service (Heather Searle)

11.05am  – 11.30 am -“Traidcraft: a Christian Approach to Fair Trade” (Margaret Dykes OBE: Traidcraft)  20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Margaret received an OBE in 2015 for services to charity and community groups in her home village of Chalfont St Giles. She has 28 years of experience with Traidcraft, a charity linked to the Fairtrade movement, and is a prolific public speaker at schools now that Fairtrade is taught in the national curriculum.

11.30 am – 12.00 noon“What does it mean to be a Fairtrade church? Looking back, looking forward”(Maranda St John Nicolle: Oxford Fair Trade Coalition; CCOW) 20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Maranda is the Director of Christian Concern for One World. She is also seconded by CCOW to the Diocese of Oxford for two days a week, serving as World Development Adviser and Partners in World Mission Project Officer. She is also on the steering groups of the International Anglican Family Network and the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition.

12.05 pm – 12.35pm‘Faith’s place in the Fairtrade Movement’ (Angharad Hopkinson; Fairtrade Foundation Churches & Faith Groups Campaigns and Policy Officer) 20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Since March 2019, Angharad has been the Campaigns and Policy Officer for Churches and faith Groups at the Fairtrade Foundation. Her degree from the London School of Economics was in Environment and Development Studies. She has also media experience with campaigning for Age UK and Green Alliance.

12.35 pm – 1.00 pm“Fairtrade: The Impact of Climate Change” (Mike King: Chairman: Wycombe For Fairtrade) 20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Mike was an Academic Librarian for over 28 years and has a BA (Hons) in Regional Development Studies. Initially supporting the Trade Justice and Jubilee 2000 movements, he has been Chairman of the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group since its inception in 2008, attending three International Fairtrade Towns Conferences.

1.00pm – Close

Politicon Event held at John Hampden Grammar School, 15th February 2020

This well-populated and extremely well-organized event attracted over 17 stall/stand holders covering the areas of the environment, economics, politics and community issues.

One of the first people to approach the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group information stall was a Ms.S.Neal, a senior teacher at JHGS responsible for business enterprise, economics, and RS. She stated that Fairtrade was now an element in the curricula for business enterprise and economics. She had some great ideas for expanding Fairtrade into the students’ summer projects as well as having a first Fairtrade Stall during Fairtrade Fortnight 2020. It was very reassuring and encouraging to hear that Fairtrade forms part of various subject curricula at many age group levels.

I have sent Ms Neal the email and contact details for Margaret Dykes, the local Traidcraft representative, to provide a range of Fairtrade products for either a forthcoming stall during Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 or during World Fair Trade Day/Week 2020. I also gave her a booklet from the Fairtrade Foundation about registering and achieving Fairtrade School status, reflecting there were no currently registered Fairtrade schools in the High Wycombe area. She also requested a copy of the recent Fairtrade Foundation pull-out brochure/poster – “The Story of Fairtrade Cocoa” for one of her younger age-group business enterprise and economics classes.

In addition to boys and their parents, girls were invited to attend the Politicon event from the nearby Wycombe High School. Three “clued-up” students spent some time talking to Jhon and myself and indicated there was a teacher at the school “very interested” about Fairtrade. One of them informed us of a new “ethical cafe” recently opened in the small business and artisan area opposite Aldi, in one of the former shipping containers called “Tones”. I will check this out next week. 

I think that this was the first time Wycombe Fairtrade have met and talked with a Secondary school/grammar school teacher who was very interested in the subject of Fairtrade and its off-shoots into sustainability, organic production, social solidarity economics, and small business practices. It was an amazing and remarkable contact after many years of previously fruitless efforts to find a potential champion teacher which certainly justified W4FT presence at this event. I am sure that she will be a very useful contact to develop over the year. Given her portfolio of subject responsibilities, I think that she will have a narrow window of opportunity to work with us during term time and develop JHGS Fairtrade inputs, but I have offered the Steering Group’s support and backing.

This meeting with Ms Neal could provide a springboard into developing exciting links and contacts with schools in Grecia specifically and in Costa Rica as a whole as well as providing places for future field courses in the subjects of:-
a) Business b) Enterprise c) Economics d) Language exchanges of students learning Spanish or English, and setting up Facebook communication for e-frindships.

Jhon was replaced by Sarah Moroz around 7.00 pm.

Thank you to Jhon and Sarah for giving up part of their evening in helping me to set up and dismantle the W4FT stall, which had many updated Fairtrade Foundation posters and leaflets, stickers, the Fairtrade Town banner, our new A1 poster, and material and products from Grecia and CoopeVictoria.Costa Rica. This education, community, and business enterprise aspect could form the basis of a reciprocal project in Grecia and CoopeVictoria in future.

A seed has certainly been sown, but these are early days, and the drivers here are the schools, interested and influential teachers, and the amount of time they can devote to this.

Mike King,
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade.



Costa Rican Ambassador to the UK visit to High Wycombe Tuesday 21st January 2020

Following on from a speculative email and an invitation to the Costa Rican Embassy in December 2019, Ambassador Ortiz and his wife came to High Wycombe on Tuesday 21st January 2020 to present the High Wycombe Fairtrade Foundation Town Renewal Certificate November 2019 – Nov 2021 to the Mayor of High Wycombe, Councillor Mazamal Hussain, during the Wycombe Charter Town Trustees Executive meeting.

During an agenda item, Ambassador Rafael Ortiz addressed the Charter Trustee Executives in the Council Chamber, stating his wholehearted support for the principles of the Fairtrade movement in general. Fairtrade was directly responsible for over 20% of Costa Rica’s national income. He also praised the work of the High Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group in particular, focusing on developing and promoting a spirit of cooperation, friendship, and establishing a working relationship with the Fair Trade Town of Grecia in north-central Costa Rica, in addition to linking with the neighbouring and largest Fair Trade organic coffee and sugar producer, CoopeVictoria. This cooperative group has over 3000 farmers who benefit directly from Fairtrade’s guaranteed coffee prices and income, utilize sustainable and organic farming practices, have excellent green renewable energy credentials, and invest their Fairtrade premium back into their businesses as well as fund community projects such a building a new school for migrant worker’s children and funding classroom teachers.

During an interval in the meeting in the Mayor’s Parlour, Ambassador Ortiz presented the Fairtrade Foundation Town Renewal Certificate to the Mayor of High Wycombe. There was a reporter and photographer from the Bucks free Press, as well as many other photo opportunities with the Deputy Mayor of High Wycombe, Matt Knight and members of the Wycombe Fairtrade Steering Group shaking hands with the Ambassador and his wife. The Costa Rican Ambassador was invited to sit in the historical Mayoral Weighing Chair, where the “Wycombe is a Fairtrade Town” banner provided an effective back-drop.  This very exciting, sociable and mutually rewarding evening celebration was enhanced by sampling various types of Fairtrade wine, soft drinks and snacks in the Mayor’s Parlour.

One of our Steering Group members then escorted the Ambassador and his wife to the station to catch their return train to London.

Mike King,

Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade.

Mayor’s Carol Service 2019

Location: All Saints Parish Church, High Wycombe

Date: `15th December 2019

This annual service was led by the Rev Hugh Ellis and included the current Mayor, Cllr Maz Hussain and choirs from Ash Hill Primary School and The Seer Green Singers. A talk was also given by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Matt Knight, a long time supporter of the Wycombe for Fairtrade group. A collection was taken in support of the Mayor’s charities for this year, Wycombe Homeless Connection and Wycombe Women’s Aid as well as All Saints Church.

The Wycombe for Fairtrade steering group provided the refreshments after this service, using Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar. Our ‘Fairtrade Town’ banner was displayed and various information leaflets about Fairtrade were available at the refreshment tables.