It’s no surprise that a town like Witney should be a Fairtrade Town – but what is it and what does being a Fair Trade Town mean?
In 2006, a small group in Witney launched the Witney Area Fair Trade Action Group (WAFTAG). They held regular events and were proud to include Alex James of Blur, Philip Pullman the author and David Cameron among their special guests and supporters. There was much support for Fairtrade in shops and businesses and among the population and after much hard work and awareness raising the group managed to gain the necessary council support.
A suitable resolution was passed and in June 2011 Witney proudly celebrated becoming the 1000th Fairtrade town in the world! (There are now over 2000 globally).
What is fairtrade?
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between some of the most disadvantaged farmers and workers in the developing world and the people who buy their products.
When farmers and workers can sell on Fairtrade terms, it provides them with a better deal: an opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade offers us a powerful way to reduce poverty through our everyday shopping.
Witney has a range of Fair Trade goods widely available across the town. Local people recognise the Fairtrade Mark and understand that it guarantees that the goods they buy with that mark have come from producers who get a fairer share of the money paid for them. It helps us be mindful of the origins of much of our food, something that we can easily lose sight of with, today’s easily available, conveniently packaged supermarket foods.
Witney’s Fairtrade group has been an active one that has been fundamental in raising awareness of the fight for trade and social justice in the town and changing public attitudes. You may have come across one of their events or seen them taking part in the In Bloom planting with their containers on the Leys complete with bee boxes and sustainable planting schemes.
But it’s not always easy to maintain the momentum of a local Fairtrade campaign, especially as Fairtrade status is something that has to be renewed every few years.
WAFTAG had to demonstrate to the Fairtrade Foundation that they were still busy and active (quite a rigorous process) and the status was renewed in 2012, 2015 and 2019.
The officials at Fairtrade Foundation said in their letter:
We were particularly impressed by the reach of your events. You have managed to engage successfully with a great number of people through them and have organised interesting events engaging with a variety of local organisations. The photos of the Library display and the flower tubs are both impressive, well done! You have also built a very strong relationship with the Council and we are glad to hear that there is scope for further support from them.
Members of WAFTAG still have the same passion for the movement that they have always had but they are all getting older now and would love to hear from some energetic new supporters. If you have an interest in Fair Trade and would like to be involved, please contact Michael Richards on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn More Witney Fair Trade Foundation