Cirencester’s Fairtrade Journey

Some people (and organisations) in Cirencester have been using Fairtrade products for many years - 20 or more. In the early days of Fairtrade, you must have eaten or drunk Fairtrade products on moral and ethical grounds because (I thought) they were below standard- weak, gritty and tasting not much better than sawdust!

Now, product standards are equal to or perhaps higher than equivalent non-Fairtrade products, and as such, sales of Fairtrade products are really taking off. Nationally Fairtrade sales have been doubling each year for the last four years – and because Cirencester already has eleven retail outlets marketing Fairtrade commodities, we must be above average consumers of Fairtrade products.

Early in 2006, Cirencester Ashcroft Church decided to become a ‘Fairtrade Church’. Deryck Nash, a former mayor of Cirencester, and member of Ashcroft Church, urged a group to take this one step further - to town level. So a group of 12 Cirencester people gathered to hear Su Chard (a south west representative of the Fairtrade Foundation) speak about how she had guided Cam and Dursley through to becoming Fairtrade Towns, what to avoid, and what being a Fairtrade Town means to them now.

Armed with innocent confidence, in November 2006 we approached the town council, asking if they would support our efforts to make Cirencester into a Fairtrade Town. To our surprise, after just one meeting, we received a resolution confirming their support. Now, a year later, I understand why things moved so quickly. Our Mayor, Councillor Shirley Alexander, is one of several councillors who feel passionately about what Fairtrade stands for.

And so the first of Five Goals required to become a Fairtrade Town was accomplished…
We hope we have reached the required standards of all five Goals, and are in the process of making a bid to the Fairtrade Foundation to become a Fairtrade Town. We wait to see if we are successful.
To find out more, visit

Mike Dearsley
(Chair of Cirencester Fairtrade Steering Group)

What is Fairtrade?

The FAIRTRADE Mark does what it says… “Guarantees a better deal for third world farmers”

The third world is used to describe poorer countries in South America, Africa and Asia. Many farmers in these developing countries have to contend with fluctuating prices that may not even cover the cost of production.
So Fairtrade promises a stable price that covers their production costs, along with a premium that the organisation will be able to reinvest either in their business or local community schemes.

The definition of Fairtrade

“Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional international trade. It is a trading partnership which aims at sustainable development for excluded and disadvantaged producers. It seeks to do this by providing better trading conditions, by awareness raising and by campaigning.”

How does Fairtrade work?

  • Producers are paid a fair price – guaranteed to be always above the world price, and to cover the cost of production. So if a crop price collapses on the world market, growers selling Fairtrade are protected and have stability allowing them to plan ahead.
  • An additional premium is paid on top. Producers themselves decide how this is to be spent – it can be improving local conditions – building a health centre or school – or put back into their business.
  • Non Fairtrade does not promise anything beyond the single contract. In Fairtrade, there is the promise of a long term trading relationship. This makes it easier for farmers to plan for the future. They can also get loans from banks more easily.
  • Producers must belong to democratic organisations. These decide how to spend the premium. These are almost always co-operatives.
  • Fairtrade suppliers agree to follow internationally agreed labour standards: they will recognise trade unions; they will not use child labour or forced labour; they will not discriminate on the basis of sex, religion, or caste; they will provide decent working conditions.
  • Fairtrade suppliers promote environmental sustainability, for example, by reducing pesticide use.

What is a Fairtrade Town?

A ‘Fairtrade Town’, (village, Borough, City, Zone) is a community, which has made a commitment to supporting Fairtrade, and through it to support disadvantaged farmers and workers in developing countries. It enables consumers, and any relevant organisations they are members of, to campaign together for Fairtrade.

What makes a Fairtrade town?

The Fairtrade Foundation has agreed criteria for Fairtrade Towns and will declare towns Fairtrade once targets have been achieved.
Five goals must be attained. When they are, a signed and dated certificate will be presented by the Fairtrade Foundation.

  1. Local council passes a resolution supporting Fairtrade, and agrees to make available Fairtrade coffee and tea at it’s meetings and in it’s offices and canteens.
  2. A range of (at least two) Fairtrade products are readily available in the area’s shops. Fairtrade products are served inn local cafés / catering establishments.
  3. Fairtrade products are used by a number of local work places (estate agents / hairdressers etc.) and community organisations (churches / schools / nurseries etc.).
  4. Attract media coverage and popular support for the campaign.
  5. A local Fairtrade steering group is convened to ensure continued commitment to its Fairtrade status.

How is Cirencester doing on the five goals?

  1. Town Council passed a resolution supporting Fairtrade in Nov 2006
  2. A town the size of Cirencester (19000) requires a minimum of four retail outlets and two catering outlets. Our surveys so far reveal support well beyond the minimum with 10 retail outlets; and 4catering outlets!!
  3. We are doing well on community organisations using Fairtrade products; town council and 5 churches, but seem weaker on business’s having Fairtrade tea/coffee etc for staff. 7 to date.
  4. Two articles on Cirencester’s progress has appeared in the Wilts and Glos Standard……and we are now on Cirencester’s official website.
  5. Five people were present at the Cirencester’s first Steering Group meeting (27th Nov 2007). The members are growing quickly – 10 as at 1st Feb.

We are currently filling in the Fairtrade application form. We are hoping to be able to declare our Fairtrade Town status by Fairtrade Fortnight 2009.

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