Local council passes a resolution supporting Fairtrade and agrees to serve Fairtrade products (for example in meetings, offices and canteens).
Felixstowe’s fabulous forum
Winning council support for Fairtrade and engaging young people in your campaign can be challenging – but the Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum has done just that.
The Town Council Youth Forum was set up in 1998 for young people interested in representing their area to meet up and discuss ideas, give them a voice and learn how to bring about change. The meetings are separate from the adult council but they deal with similar issues.
The Town Council has supported Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum since its beginnings and until recently two councillors were members of the steering group. Councillor Doreen Savage, who runs the Youth Forum, is very supportive of Fairtrade and when she heard about the challenge many Fairtrade Groups face in trying to reach young people, she invited Steering group member Stephen Wyatt to speak to the Youth Forum in November 2014.
Stephen stresses the importance of empowerment within the community, saying ‘it is beneficial for 10-year-olds just to be heard’.
Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum inspired the Youth Forum to organise an event aimed at raising awareness of Fairtrade within their peer group. Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum used a banana split sketch to explain to young learners how pricing in the banana industry affects farmers and workers.
Children from both the Youth Forum and local primary schools hosted the event in the town’s library on 17 February 2015. They chose to hold it during half term rather than at the end of a school day so that as many people as possible could attend. The library staff were extremely supportive, helping with the event, and the library café even sells Fairtrade products – the perfect fit.
There were many different games and activities, designed to be fun and informative. Some were more unusual than others, but all enjoyable!
- designing posters
- treasure hunts
- worksheets exploring how tea is grown
- raffles with Fairtrade chocolate as a prize
- interactive computer games
- a finger puppet hunt.
The finger puppet hunt was particularly popular – puppets were hidden in local shops that support Fairtrade and the child who found the most was awarded a certificate from the Mayor. One of the highlights for Stephen was being able to ‘step back and watch it all happen as the kids came up with the ideas themselves’.‘
Children can be inspiring and inject life into a local campaign, especially when they are active and independent. Felixstowe’s example also shows that having the backing of your local council can make running these events much easier.
Although it has not always been smooth sailing – children have tended to become less engaged in the Youth Forum over time, especially when they transition from primary to secondary school. The partnership took a hiatus over the summer, and Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum hope to refresh it in the autumn when children come back to school.
Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum is working hard to ensure that the momentum they have built is maintained with current Youth Forum members as they grow up. The group hopes to make 2015’s event an annual one, engaging with a wider range of both students and teachers in local secondary schools to encourage them to become more actively involved in campaigning for Fairtrade. To help engage young people, the Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum plans to create a youth page on its website where young people can see how to get involved with Fairtrade campaigning.
Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum is also making impressive progress towards achieving Fairtrade School status for some of their local primary and junior schools as a lot of the children involved in the event want to continue their campaigning.
Joining up campaigning across the community is key to success – the involvement of adults and children in different ways means Fairtrade can be a common theme for both fun events and education. Felixstowe Fairtrade Forum has shown why it is so beneficial to have support from your local council, and how both young and adult members can make a real impact as many more children actively engaged with Fairtrade issues and are involving their parents and families within the community too.