It is getting on towards three weeks since we held our Annual Conference in the Priory Street Centre York and in all fairness it was probably our best to date. A lot of hard work had gone into ensuring a balance of speakers, workshops, resolutions, and evening entertainment, with something for our retailers, suppliers and visitors.
The Saturday afternoon was busy with getting rooms set up as far as possible, and Sunday morning started with getting the layout right, checking equipment, deciding which workshops would be where, and welcoming attendees for the start at 11.30am. Following an introduction from outgoing Chair, Joanna Pollard, we started with browsing stalls from about a dozen suppliers, and heard three moving accounts of supplier stories from Just Trade (UK) Ltd, York Scarves and Fair Grounds, then a video from Goodweave which had specially been shaped for our Conference. After lunch we heard from Heather Masoud (Zaytoun) about how fair trade is helping producers and farmers in Palestine; from Carol Wills about various types of certification including the WFTO Guarantee System; and went on to split into three workshops on different topics – Window and shop display for retailers, Monitoring your Suppliers, and Importing from Africa, all held by different members of BAFTS. More supplier stall browsing, networking followed, then an evening meal and a quiz, bingo and a relaxed evening.
The Monday started with more stall browsing, another four moving and important supplier talks on how they are helping improve producers’ lives -from Zuza Trading, Enfair, Neema Crafts, and Picaflor. This was followed by a much-awaited talk from Emilie Schultze of Traidcraft about the effect of Brexit on producers across the developing world; then we heard from Amanda Galliano, Business Development Manager at Liberation Nuts on their progress as a Fair Trade Company.
Lunch was followed by an excellent talk by Bruce Crowther on Grassroots fair trade Campaigning, which led us onto the formal AGM itself. Joanna Pollard sadly stepped down as Chair, and we welcomed Laura Cave to the Board in a non-named capacity. The main resolutions which were passed, revolve around BAFTS accepting a few more certification systems than it previously did to form part of the 70% fairly-traded goods (now 60% for shops only) which all our members (except “Associate members”) have to carry from certain specified sources. These used to be solely from BAFTS’ suppliers, WFTO, or FLO marked products and now also include Goodweave certified products (see website above), those from Fair for Life, and from WFTO Networks in the Global South.
Our Fee structure was also voted to alter slightly and these changes which come into force from 1st July 2017 can be seen on our Join BAFTS page.
As he left, Bruce Crowther, one of the founders of fair trade in that he worked to get the first ever fairtrade status for Garstang, said that he was going away inspired, so we reckon that is the icing on the cake for our Conference!!