Westminster Achieves Fairtrade Diocese Status

As a Diocese, we celebrated the award with an Online Celebration & Social on Friday 5th March, 11am, during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021. About 60 people from parishes around the Diocese gathered on Zoom to watch a video recorded by Cardinal Vincent Nichols to mark the occasion, with guest speakers congratulating all those involved, as well as encouraging those Parishes not yet signed up to complete the Award. 

Bishop Nicholas Hudson, lead bishop for Justice & Peace, opened the gathering in prayer and offered his own congratulations to everyone involved, thanking CAFOD Westminster, Caritas Westminster and Justice & Peace Westminster for their collaboration in promoting Fairtrade principles and arranging the celebration. 

In his message, Cardinal Vincent Nichols congratulated  the 108 Westminster Parishes that have committed to Fairtrade principles and announced  that Westminster RC Diocese is now the first Fairtrade Diocese in the Country.  The Cardinal also invited the remaining parishes in the Diocese to seek to become Fairtrade Parishes.  This commitment requires a parish to offer Fairtrade coffee and tea when served at Parish meetings and to promote Fairtrade at least once a year in the parish. For information on how to apply visit the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Fairtrade

Everyone brought along a Fairtrade product to show in a screenshot photograph to be shared in the media afterwards and we all enjoyed spotting the many different types of Fairtrade items on display…

We were reminded that, with the end of lockdown in sight, now is the perfect time for parishes to check their tea, coffee, sugar and biscuit supplies and stock-up with Fairtrade goodies in preparation for permission to serve refreshments after Mass resuming on 12th April!

Invited speakers included Adam Gardner who has worked for The Fairtrade Foundation for more than a decade. He said, “Speaking to Barbara Kentish (former J & P Co-ordinator) and Maria Elena Arana (CAFOD) and others over the years, I’ve got just a sense of how much hard work and dedication, events, conversation, discussion and prayer, too, has gone on by so many across the Parishes and at the Diocese level so massive congratulations! There is an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This has been a true team effort and truly about going far.”

Fr Joe Ryan, former Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, described his own wake-up call forty years ago as to where his tea and coffee came from and the origins of the decision to become a Fairtrade Diocese. Every purchase we make here can have a huge impact on others who are producing goods many miles away overseas. “Even a little can mean a lot.” 

Anne Lamont, a parishioner at St John Vianney’s and volunteer in the Justice & Peace Office, told how Fairtrade had become an integral part of the Confirmation programme, which has helped to embed Fairtrade thinking and activity in the Parish. Young people in the Confirmation group hold an annual Big Brew Weekend with stalls, a raffle and Fairtrade teas, coffees and cakes which they make themselves.

Hilda McCafferty from Our Lady of Fatima, White City, in West London, reminded the meeting of the importance of Fairtrade and sustainability in the fashion industry, which was illustrated in her parish by a Fairtrade Fashion Show, also run by the Confirmation Group.

Among the other parishes in attendance were: St Bede’s – Croxley Green, Our Lady of Lourdes – Acton, St Joseph’s – Bunhill Row, St Marks – Hemel West, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory – Warwick Street, Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew – Hitchin, and St Edmund’s – Edmonton.

St Mary’s, Hampstead, was represented by Santana Luis who writes, “Thank you for organising the Fairtrade presentation event and asking me to speak on my journey with the Fairtrade movement for the last fifteen years. It has been a great achievement for our Diocese and a wonderful celebration to be part of the World’s largest Fairtrade city. We are now leading an example for other boroughs, parishes, deaneries, dioceses and other faith communities in the UK to be part of the Fairtrade movement, especially as this year’s themes are focusing on sustainability, circular economy, climate crisis and meeting the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).”

Tony Sheen from CAFOD thanked everyone for their participation, including Parishes who have demonstrated their commitment to Fairtrade as part of the Live Simply Award. He encouraged Parishes who have not yet started this journey to consider signing up. The Award requires us to look at our lifestyles as individuals and as Parish communities, seeking to live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with those living in poverty. Find out more: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award

Finally, the meeting was closed in prayer by the current Chair of Westminster Justice & Peace, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ.

Watch the Celebration of 5th March 2021

Find out more about Fairtrade in the Diocese of Westminster

Fairtrade Diocese Award – A Celebration

Cardinal Vincent Nichols receives the Fairtrade Diocese certificate

Barbara Kentish recalls how the award was achieved in the Diocese of Westminster

Obtaining a Diocesan Fairtrade Certificate has been a long struggle, led, we are proud to say, by hundreds of valiant parishioners of the 200+ parishes of Westminster.  It is a wonderful staging post in the campaign for justice in world trade.

When the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission looked at the possible goals we should adopt when I started in 2006, Fairtrade seemed an easy one: surely all parishes would want to serve Fairtrade tea and coffee if it helped poor farmers in developing countries to get a better deal? We only needed half the parishes in the Diocese to sign up to reach the criteria for the award. CAFOD was a founding member of the Fairtrade Foundation and was represented on our Commission, so there was an excellent base on which to build the work.  After that we would move on to think about world peace, the refugee crisis, Middle East conflict!   The campaign took a little longer than we thought…

Each parish needed first to agree officially to apply for Fairtrade (FT) status.  A minimum requirement was to serve FT-brand tea and coffee at parish functions; then to promote FT in other ways, such as stalls, talks or films, and finally to hold an event once a year during Fairtrade Fortnight.

We emailed Fairtrade promotional materials, wrote letters, sent application forms to be returned to CAFOD and organized a diocesan steering group (thank you to those early hopeful few!)  In the first 18 months we rejoiced that over a quarter of parishes had signed up straight away!  Just another 50 or so to reach our magic target of 51% of the then 214 parishes. We blithely assumed we were nearly there.    

Then came an intensive round of phone calls to parishes: would they consider becoming a Fairtrade parish?  Telephone campaigners included our youth workers Peter, Dervla, then Edmund. St John Vianney Justice & Peace parish lead, Mariantha Fomenky, and her son Joe, made a huge contribution. Office administrator, Amy, created the Fairtrade ‘Spoons’ resource for Confirmation groups, while Anne Lamont, catechist and teacher at St John Vianney parish, created a wealth of materials for parishes and schools, in handy packs. Fairtrade is now a regular feature of many Confirmation programmes and other youth activities in the Diocese.

Years passed, volunteers came and went, additions to the certificated parishes gradually sank to a trickle, seeming to stick at around 10 or 15 short of the number required.  Lists became confused, contradictory, and each new volunteer would begin with reorganizing them!  Objections to the cause were varied:  some churches didn’t serve tea and coffee, some didn’t see the point of signing up or didn’t have the time. 

But many faithful parishes continued promoting Fairtrade, and one can think of inspiring people such as Angela Sterlini in St Edmund’s, Edmonton, Angela Wolestonecroft from St Teresa’s, Borehamwood, and Marion Hill in Our Lady and the Rosary, Haverstock Hill, who run splendid Fairtrade stalls, and the wonderful Sister Ellen Corbett (RIP) from St Ignatius, Stamford Hill, who ran the stall in the parish and attended every Fairtrade event in the calendar. 

As Coordinator, I organized a diocesan Fairtrade Event every year, to maintain or rekindle enthusiasm. A Diocesan tea party at Westminster, a conference at West Green, a celebration at Welwyn Garden City, even a Fairtrade and Brexit teach-in at Holborn, were all part of the ongoing effort.  A highlight was a film show in ‘posh’ Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, for Confirmation groups, organised by Suddie Komba-Kono, attended by TV star Stacey Dooley, and black theologian Robert Beckford.  A gathering at Holy Apostles, Pimlico, in 2014 represented another high point, when our speakers included the charismatic Catholic Director of Divine Chocolate, Sophi Tranchell, and Fairtrade Director Michael Gidney.  With Bishop John Arnold in the chair (he was the first diocesan bishop to endorse Fairtrade), hopes were running high and we thought we might reach the target that year. Sadly, not yet! 

Flagging spirits needed a boost, and CAFOD Westminster stepped in to give more support, with Tony Sheen’s great organizing skills and powers of persuasion.  CAFOD volunteer, Frances Halliday, soon sorted out our muddled lists.   Numbers rose, and when I retired in 2018, we were only a handful of parishes short of our target.  Miraculous to say, at last we were over the bar, and current Chair, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, obtained the agreement of the Cardinal to apply for our Diocesan status.  I was so envious in around 2011 when the Anglican Diocese of London received its certificate in a wonderful ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral, where one of the priests wore a banana suit!  Soon, I thought, soon, it will be our turn!  Thanks to all our wonderful parish Fairtraders, it is finally our turn to celebrate. Maybe not in a cathedral, but no less joyfully (with or without banana suits!)

The story of course does not stop here.  The developing world struggles still to get a fair deal at the trading table.  Tony Sheen, CAFOD Westminster Community Participation Co-ordinator, explains why we must continue:

“When we buy products with the Fairtrade Mark, we support farmers and workers in the developing world as they work to improve their lives and their communities. The Fairtrade Mark means that particular ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.”

CAFOD is encouraging more parishes to sign up for the parish award.

Tony says, “It is quite simple for a Parish to apply. It involves a commitment for your parish to have Fairtrade refreshments such as tea and coffee available at Parish meetings and to hold one activity per year promoting Fairtrade in your Parish. If your Parish currently doesn’t have Fairtrade status we hope that you might help it to achieve this? Would it be possible to make your Parish Fairtrade?” 

Many more challenges lie ahead for the Diocese in tackling World Peace and International Justice, but this Fairtrade Fortnight, 2021, we can pause for a moment in the journey to celebrate and renew ourselves – with Fairtrade refreshments, of course!

FAIRTRADE DIOCESE AWARD – CELEBRATION IN FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT

To celebrate with us on Friday 5th March 2021, 11.00-11.45am,
please register in advance with Eventbrite

To Find out more contact CAFOD Westminster Westminster@cafod.org.uk or Justice and Peace at justiceandpeace@rcdow.org.uk     

For more details on Fairtrade in the Diocese of Westminster visit our Fairtrade Webpage

Not too late to celebrate Fairtrade

Fairtrade Fortnight started on February 26th and closes on March 11th.  So it is not too late to celebrate!  Although we were very disappointed that Sainsburys have abandoned the Fairtrade label for their own brands, you can still find some Fairtrade tea in the higher end category, Taste the Difference, as well as the various filter coffees.  Sainsburys have, in the face of the tea protests, perhaps, committed to keeping their Fairtrade bananas, which is excellent news for the small Windward Islands such as St Lucia and Dominica.   Aldi’s and Lidl have some great Fairtrade chocolate, and Waitrose continue their Fairtrade commitment.

Barbara Kentish, Cropped 3-1

Here in the Westminster Diocese, we can count an amazing 103 parishes which have signed up to Fairtrade justice for producers.  They serve Fairtrade tea and coffee at parish functions, promote Fairtrade in other ways, and hold an event once a year to celebrate it.  This CAN be during the fortnight, but also can feature at other times.  No time is a bad time to publicise Fairtrade.   With only a handful, FIVE, more parishes, we can qualify to be a Fairtrade diocese. Maybe your parish is on the brink of signing up.  TELL US ABOUT IT!

And if you still haven’t organised a celebration, just have a Sunday  coffee morning or a Saturday tea party.  Other ideas through the year are liturgies, films, talks, games, or cake sales, as in my own parish.

Lobbying: less developed countries are at huge risk as all our trade deals are being renegotiated.  Find out what is happening to tropical products in course of our Brexit negotiations.  Producers of sugar, cotton, metals, cocoa, may all be at even more risk in the months and years to come.  Ask MPs about trade with poorer countries post – Brexit.  Traidcraft have a campaigning department which can help with the facts.  www.traidcraft.org.uk  Fairtrade-logo

Fairtrade Fortnight – February 26th to March 11th

We are SO close to being a Fairtrade Diocese!  Out of the 108 parishes needed, we have reached 103.  Could yours be the vital clinching number 108?!  If you are already Fairtrade, don’t forget to organise an event during the fortnight – see below.

Our Big ‘Ask’

Could everyone hold a ‘Big Brew’ during the Fortnight, and send a picture in?  Teaparties or coffee mornings across the diocese using Fairtrade goods, would be a great way to celebrate the diocese’s Fairtrade commitment.   We could collate your pictures on our Facebook page for all to enjoy.   And don’t forget to tweet your pictures with #westminsterbigbrew

Fairtrade Fortnight 2018: Monday 26 February – Sunday 11 March

Along with other good news in the Justice and Peace world, we are delighted to tell you that the diocese is only 7 or 8 parishes short of being eligible to be a Fairtrade Diocese.  For this status, we have to have over half of our parishes signed up to Fairtrade, which they have been doing little by little, over the last few years, by sending their registration forms to CAFOD and receiving a certificate.

We were so pleased to sign up Newman House, the University parish, as number 100, but now need a further few to tip over the halfway mark (there are 214 parishes in the Westminster Diocese).

If your parish IS signed up, thanks so much for being a beacon for trade justice!  Do keep it going.  If NOT, please think of signing up to this international effort to ensure that producers in developing countries get a fair deal.

The Fairtrade Foundation tells us …


‘For hundreds of years, we were taught to serve, to be workers. Now with Fairtrade, we are entrepreneurs’ Marcial Quintero, member of Coobana, a Fairtrade banana co-operative in Panama.

Fairtrade-logoIt’s a scandalous reality that millions of farmers and workers are still being ripped off despite working hard to provide the products we love. Unfairness in global trade is rooted in centuries of exploitation.  Yet across the globe, Marcial and hard-working producers like him are unravelling this legacy.  They’re fighting for a fair deal, supported by Fairtrade, earning their way out of poverty and transforming their communities.


Our Big ‘Ask’

Could everyone hold a ‘Big Brew’ during the Fortnight, and send a picture in?  Teaparties or coffee mornings across the diocese using Fairtrade goods, would be a great way to celebrate the diocese’s  Fairtrade commitment.   We could collate your pictures on our Facebook page for all to enjoy. And don’t forget to tweet your pictures with #westminsterbigbrew.

A big thank you to all who have stuck with this campaign for so long.  Slow and steady ……

Protests at Sainsbury’s AGM in Support of Fairtrade

By Anne Lamont

OXFAM, CAFOD and members of the Justice and Peace Commission took part in an eye-catching stunt to protest at Sainsbury’s very recent abandoning of the ethical Fairtrade label in favour of its own ‘Fairly Traded’ products. The action took place in central London at Sainsbury’s AGM at the Queen Elizabeth Centre and delegates and shareholders were treated to the vision of protesters dressed as teabags requesting that they raise objections at this hastily orchestrated move on the part of Sainsbury’s senior executive body.   The new ‘Fairly Traded’ products which have astonishingly appeared on Sainsbury’s shelves just one month after they announced this move, suggesting the decision is one that has been planned for some time. Sainsbury’s have ignored appeals from African farmers to reconsider this move which they consider will diminish their power and control over their products and place them at a disadvantage.

A Change.org online petition has been launched and has won considerable support within a very short period of time from many supporters of Fairtrade outraged at the ‘colonial’ style move on the part of the supermarket (https://www.change.org/p/sainsbury-s-don-t-ditch-fairtrade).  The stunt received good coverage in the media including an excellent article in The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/05/sainsburys-agm-rocked-by-protests-over-plan-to-drop-fairtrade-tea ).

STOP PRESS

Congratulations to St John Fisher Parish Shepperton, for being Fairtrade Parish number 99 and to Newman House University Chaplaincy for being Fairtrade Parish number 100!! We now need only 8 more parishes to apply for certification as a Fairtrade Diocese. Thanks to Anne Lamont (J&P) and Frances Halliday (CAFOD) for beavering away on this. Keep up the Trade Justice efforts in spite of setbacks from SOME supermarkets!

Fairtrade Fortnight and the Westminster Fairtrade Diocese Campaign 2017

Westminster Justice and Peace are pleased to announce that there are now 95 parishes in the diocese signed up to Fairtrade, and in partnership with CAFOD we are pressing on to become a Fairtrade diocese.

Holborn Fairtrade

We organised two important talks during Fairtrade Fortnight on Brexit and its implications for trade justice. Mary Milne in Hitchin and Emilie Schultze in Holborn, Campaigns team for the Traidcraft company, explained that leaving the EU will probably mean leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union, so that all trade negotiations will need to be renegotiated. Around £34billions’ worth of goods are imported by the UK from Less Developed Countries (LDCs), including not only fresh fruit and vegetables, but also more importantly, clothing and footwear. One-third of Belize’s exports reach the UK, along with 23% from Mauritius, and 10% from Bangladesh.

There are currently some good deals in place with LDCs and Europe, including one entitled ‘Everything but arms’, involving no tariffs. Less favourable is the Economic Partnership Agreement, which imposes bilateral conditions. If our government does nothing, a colossal £1billion extra taxes will be imposed by the World Trade Organisation on goods coming in. The Traidcraft speakers used the example of a group of grandmothers in Malawi caring for their grandchildren and running the Black Mamba chutney enterprise. Their prices would increase by 7 1/2 % and the niche Traidcraft market would inevitably sell less.

Possible advantages in leaving the EU could include ‘taking back control’ and giving countries a better deal. Kenya exports a large quantity of raw coffee beans but only 5% of roasted with a target of increasing to 10%. The more they process, the more they will have to pay in higher tariffs.

Parish representatives wanted to know why countries had such vulnerable economies, dependent on one commodity only, such as coffee, flowers or bananas, and it was explained that as well as an importer, Traidcraft as a charity was able to help small farmers to develop and diversify. Markets were often complicated, with other European countries having their own trading patterns.

Traidcraft begged the churches to raise this issue vigorously with our MPs and other groups; government is currently focussing on main suppliers and buyers in lead countries such as China, the US and Australia. The LDCs stand a good chance of being forgotten. Traidcraft has a card-signing campaign at the moment, for sending to our MPs, and some were distributed at the talks. Those who want to get involved should contact Traidcraft’s campaign office in South London: Traidcraft London Office (Campaigns), +44 (0) 203 752 5720 , 2.12 The Foundry, 17-19 Oval Way, London, SE11 5RR

Justice and Peace wants parishes to sign up to Fairtrade so as to support small farmers and producers such as the Black Mamba group to develop their own communities.

For further information contact:

Westminster Justice and Peace at justice@rcdow.org.uk

0208 888 4222

Trade Justice, Brexit, and Fairtrade Fortnight 2017

Holborn Fairtrade

We had good cause for celebration during Fairtrade Fortnight this year, when the theme was ‘It’s time to put Fairtrade in your break’. We now have 95 parishes signed up to Fairtrade – out of 214 comprising our diocese. Supporting Fairtrade means giving producers from small farms and cooperatives a fair price for their goods, and a chance to improve their lives.

Justice and Peace held 2 gatherings, at St Cecilia and St Anselms in Holborn and at Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrews in Hitchin, on the theme of ‘Free Trade and Fairtrade – Towards trade justice in the Post-Brexit era’. The speakers, Mary Milne and Emilie Schultze, from the development organisation, Traidcraft, explained how many new trade deals would have to be negotiated after Brexit, and that the poorer countries were a long way down the UK’s list of priorities. It is up to supporters to campaign on their behalf, they argued, so that Brexit does not mean that even more cards are stacked against them in the international trade scene.

Traidcraft is the organisation which many parishes order from when they run a stall, and Marion Hill, a ‘Fairtrade trader’ from St Dominic’s parish kindly ran a stall offering their goods. Traidcraft, explained Emilie Schultze, is not only an importing company, but also a charity which supports growers and producers to develop their goods and communities. It is currently running a card campaign to encourage us to contact our MPs and raise the issue of justice for the small farmers who produce the Fairtrade goods we buy, whether at a church stall or in the supermarket.

St John Vianney’s organised a cake sale early in the Fortnight, and raised £300 for fairtrade producers.

If your parish has not signed up, do get in touch and we can send you a pack telling you what is needed.