Anti-Poverty Week 16-22 October 2016 #FairTradebreakspoverty

As a member of WFTO, BAFTS positively supports Anti-Poverty Week running from 16-22 October, and encourages all of its members by extension to do likewise. Our Facebook and Twitter banners have been changed and can be downloaded and used for the same purposes on member pages. If BAFTS’ members are indeed using social media, the hashtag #FairTradeBreaksPoverty is the one which we are asked to adhere to.


WFTO’s Press Release regarding the 2016 ANTI-POVERTY WEEK is as follows:

“Fair Trade = no poverty! This year WFTO observes Global Anti-Poverty Week (16-22 October 2016) by promoting the 10 Principles of Fair Trade as means to eradicate poverty as desired by the first goal of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – NO POVERTY.

WFTO believes that the principles of Fair Trade are effective overarching tools to fight poverty. Using the concept of ‘Agent for Change’ (Fair Trade as an agent for change), WFTO’s formula to eradicate poverty is:  Fair Trade + Economic Opportunities = No Poverty. We would like you to join the awareness raising campaign. For the campaign, we use the icons of Fair Trade Principle 1 and Sustainable Development Goal 1 to represent visually our formula for change. See visual illustration below.” BAFTS and its members ara asked to upload images to social media of our “Agents for Change” with these icons, showing the part which Fair Trade plays in the eradication of poverty.


Posted in Fair Trade

Notes from Paul Monaghan, Fair Tax Mark, on “Tax Avoidance & public sector Procurement”

14572755_1813158625636604_5080757226764925972_nThe original speech was given by Paul Monaghan, one of the Directors of the Fair Tax Mark, at the Ethical Consumer Conference, on September 30th in London. These are my notes from re-listening via the Ethical Consumer website. Whilst all the subjects discussed were fascinating and eye-opening, this is the area about which I knew the least and felt it essential to share a greater understanding of how companies avoid tax and how they may be excluded from public sector contracts.

Paul has been involved in the area of Corporate Responsibility for 25 years. Ethical Consumer was also at the forefront of getting the Fair Tax Mark set up. Over this period of time, virtually every issue relating to corporates has seen progress – apart from executive remuneration and tax avoidance. All that changed in 2011. However, it was as long ago as 1961 when John Kennedy expressed concerns about this self-same problem.

14485146_1813158592303274_5919010143935245201_nThe extent of brazen tax avoidance forced people to come together and take action: journalists, politicians, campaigners and corporates all took a stand and wanted to state their part and, in the case of companies, show that they were being honest. Whilst the EU is one of the most aggressive regulators of this avoidance, when they took Apple to court it was about actions from 25 years hence. Paul pointed out that most people also knew who the bad guys appeared to be eg Starbucks, Facebook, and there was no way of rewarding the companies showing integrity.

With no movement by 2014, the Fair Tax Mark was set up. It helped identify those companies who were quietly paying their taxes and avoiding tax havens. They met resistance by corporates who said it was too complex and wouldn’t stand up. But they were proved wrong and reckon they must have been right when KPMG (one of the major auditors) rubbished it and claimed they were bringing out their own version – which they didn’t. It was clear that businesses needed a policy on corporate tax.

The Fair Tax Mark looks at whether companies do business with tax havens; who the beneficial owners of the company are; tax rates have to be disclosed, as well as deferred tax; and this must be listed country by country. Points are awarded for filing your corporation tax return – because nobody at HMRC checks to see if this is done. It is in essence a voluntary standard for something that should be mandatory, but isn’t.

14519708_1813158635636603_4990298765892436074_nAt first Co-ops and social enterprises came on board, alongside mutual societies, then FTSE businesses and private companies started taking note. That was when the Financial Press took an interest. But the Fair Tax Mark does not leave it to the market to enforce – it needs regulatory teams. Some local councils have changed their procurement guidance to shun tax evaders and avoiders. In fact some Councils are arguing about which political party started the work or has now moved to enforce this decision as they want to take the credit for taking this change forward.

Posted in Fair Trade

Gateway Sunday…a Service with Heather Thompson, Traidcraft Exchange

Sunday 4th September was the date for the annual Gateway Sunday, a Church service in St. Nicholas’ Church, Durham, when BAFTS’ shop Gateway World Shop (which is housed in the former vestry and has been for over 25 years) works with the vicar taking the sermon to raise themes of justice and fairness in our consumption habits, and invites speakers to talk about issues which are related to its mission as part of the Church. The shop is usually open after the service for the congregation to browse as well.

This year the guest speaker was Heather Thompson from Traidcraft Exchange who focussed on the whole issue of well being resulting from the benefits which fair trade can bring to an employee and his or her family and community. Fair trade brings not just economic wellbeing such as fairer wages, better terms of trade and improved livelihoods. It benefits in so many other ways too, in health and education, building self esteem, improving dignity and bringing social acceptance. Being able to contribute to their communities gives a voice, confidence and empowerment to people who had none of these things. Fair trade changes lives, giving safety and security. In every successful fair trade story we can see hope for a better future.

Traidcraft tea farmer

Traidcraft tea farmer

The congregation was reminded of the huge difference which the purchase of fairly-traded gifts, crafts, and foods can make to the lives of impoverished producers striving to keep their heads above the poverty line and were shown a Traidcraft video which highlighted this. The shop Manager Hazel Dobson puts many hours into ensuring that this service is as effective and enjoyable as possible and that the campaign message is clearly understood.

Posted in Uncategorized

Edinburgh in a day: the Fair and Ethical Trade on the Fringe, and Just Festival

Key elements of the Just Festival summed up in an excellent poster.

Key elements of the Just Festival summed up in an excellent poster.

On Tuesday I was given the opportunity to visit Edinburgh to attend the Fair and Ethical Trade on the Fringe event  running from 7-27 August, and to attend some exhibitions and a drama as part of the Just Festival which runs concurrently from 5-28 August. The fair is an opportunity to visit and buy from ethical stalls from abroad eg Kenya and Peru; from fair trade stalls from Edinburgh and farther afield, and some local craft and food stalls. The Just Festival creates a space for dialogue and platforms for engagement in local, national and international questions of social justice, equality and identity. In line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it celebrates humanity in all its differences, promoting the exploration of new perspectives with the aim of reducing religious, political and social intolerance.

Kathryn, BAFTS'  Executive Officer, with Picky Saud of Lumina Jewellry

Kathryn, BAFTS’ Executive Officer, with Picky Saud of Lumina Jewellry

It was great to meet BAFTS’ members Lumina Jewellery and One World Shop on their stalls at the fair, as well as the event organiser Tania Pramschufer. I had the opportunity to talk with two stallholders from Kenya – Dorostel International and Sanjo Artists – about their organisations and how they were helping women in small communities; and to other UK-based stallholders about a potential interest in joining BAFTS. There was time to pop in on Hadeel selling crafts and food from Palestine, and meet with Equal Exchange for a catch-up chat. The whole city was abuzz, as both the above events sat alongside the Edinburgh Fringe Festival itself and a book festival too!

I intended to visit some exhibitions on Gaza and Displacement of refugees but these had been damaged by severe winds. I managed to see one small one on refugees which was a bonus. The day was rounded off with attending a beautiful, hopeful, proud and vibrant drama entitled “Beautiful Resistance” by Al Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Society, a group of young Palestinians living in Aida refugee camp and working through the daily challenges and restrictions of Israeli occupation and violence through drama, dance and music. They were supported by the Amos Trust. As the General Director of the Alrowwad Theatre Society, Abdelfattah Abusrour, who introduced them and spoke of some of them being delayed and imprisoned before release, and last minute visa rejections being overturned,  said:

Al Rowwad Beautiful Resistance drama

Al Rowwad Beautiful Resistance drama

“As Palestinian refugees, we do not have the luxury of despair. We choose Beautiful Resistance”.

(The link to Al-Rowwad goes through to images from the event on their Facebook page, as their website is in Arabic. To see all BAFTS’ images from the day, please go to the BAFTS’ Facebook page and see our posted and shared pictures on 17th August.)

Posted in Fair Trade

Rainbow Turtle wins “Outstanding Achievement” for Fairtrade Fortnight Display

Rainbow Turtle Scoops Annual Fairtrade Campaign Award

Rainbow Turtle has received the Outstanding Achievement Award in the annual Fairtrade Campaign Awards as judged by the Fairtrade Foundation. The group was recognised for their commitment to raising awareness about the principles and values of Fairtrade in their local community during Fairtrade Fortnight 2016, a highlighted campaign for the grassroots movement in the UK.

The Outstanding Achievement Award is given to a group that has created a campaign which impressed the judges in all areas, namely, a well-planned campaign that reached lots of people and communicated the Fairtrade message imaginatively. Rainbow Turtle was established in 2002 with a charity that raises awareness about Fair Trade issues and supports producer groups in the developing world; a trading company that promotes the sales of Fair Trade goods through its shop on Gauze Street, Paisley; and its sale or return service throughout Renfrewshire. Josh, the charity’s education officer, works with schools and community groups to help them achieve their Fairtrade goals and has recently made links with several other local community groups under the banner of ‘Common Threads’ linking Paisley’s history in textiles with the clothing industry in the developing world today.

This Fairtrade Fortnight, Rainbow Turtle Charity decided to highlight the Fairtrade Foundation’s theme of Breakfast and their slogan ‘Stand up for Farmers, Sit down for breakfast’ by creating a ‘Living Window Display’ in the Rainbow Turtle shop. People from Renfrewshire schools, churches, community groups, Fairtrade campaigners, politicians and Rainbow Turtle volunteers were asked to sit in the window and eat breakfast while explaining why they believed standing up for farmers and choosing Fair Trade was important. An innovative Fair Trade feast was provided by Ken Clark of Redss Catering. Only Ken can put Fair Trade and breakfast together with delicious selection of haggis, fava beans and muffins!

On receiving the award, Jim Rutherford from Rainbow Turtle Charity, said:  “Rainbow Turtle, here in Paisley, is thrilled have won this prestigious UK award and many thanks are due to all who organised and took part. It was a really positive event and certainly showed how simply using Fair Trade products can enable people in other countries to break free from grinding poverty and unfair trading practices, giving hope and opportunities for their families. Fair Trade is a tangible and positive lifeline which really does make a difference”.

Proudly displaying their award for "Outstanding Achievement", members of Rainbow Turtle Charity

Proudly displaying their award for “Outstanding Achievement”, members of Rainbow Turtle Charity

Martin Rhodes, director of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum said “It is great to see Scotland so well represented in these UK-wide awards including the Outstanding Achievement Award for Rainbow Turtle. Pioneering Fair Trade organisations like Rainbow Turtle have ensured Fair Trade’s successes so far and importantly they are essential to ensuring the future of Fair Trade.”

Adam Gardner, Communities Campaigns Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Rainbow Turtle has made an exceptional commitment to farmers and workers around the globe who are continuously working hard to bring us the products we love. All too often these communities are not receiving a fair price for their work, but campaigners from Rainbow Turtle have shown their dedication to this cause. It’s so important for communities to get involved and let their voice be heard. “Thanks to the ongoing support of campaigners and businesses around the UK, Fairtrade today reaches millions of vulnerable farmers and workers in over 70 countries. We are constantly inspired and surprised by the overwhelming support the UK public shows Fairtrade. Thank you and congratulations to Rainbow Turtle for making an incredible contribution to the Fairtrade movement.”

Fairtrade has paved the way for sustainable trading by providing a safety net for world’s poorest farmers against volatile market prices, and the Fairtrade Premium to invest in vital community, business and environmental projects. The UK has one of the most powerful networks of Fairtrade campaigners in the world, including over 600 Fairtrade Towns, 1350 Fairtrade Schools and 170 Fairtrade Universities, and 7,500 Fairtrade places of worship.

Posted in Fair Trade

Traidcraft Retailer Day Weds 3rd August Gateshead

Two weeks ago, it was the Traidcraft Retailer day at their premises in Gateshead. Kathryn, our Executive Officer, went along with Hazel Dobson, Gateway World Shop Manager and Board member, and our Chair Joanna Pollard was also there, as was recently co-opted Board Member Dolores Harvey. Although it was a Retailer Day, Kathryn was invited along to speak with Joanna about BAFTS and the benefits of membership to any non-BAFTS’ members, of which there were few. Nonetheless, the day was very informative and a great opportunity to see Traidcraft’s Autumn catalogue goods, their shop, and to look at the expanding Artisans Fair range close-up. Thanks to Alistair Menzies and Suzanne Whittingham for organising.

The day started with product viewing, Fairtrade refreshments and nibbles, then we heard from Alistair about an update on Traidcraft, which showed that they had had quite an encouraging year, with the Artisans Fair range exceeding their expectations and getting a lot of support from fair trade shops. It had been expanded upon at Harrogate Home and Gift Fair to include greetings cards and gift wraps, and more new lines will be added over time. Inevitably, prices had been affected by poorer exchange rates. The Traidcraft AGM (and roadshow) takes place in London on 3rd September, with a Birmingham roadshow on 5th September and York Roadshow on 8th October. They will also be at Autumn Fair 2016 in Hall 4, Stand 4A40 when the new Artisans Fair (Craft) catalogue will be made available so please visit if you can.

We were then given the opportunity to watch some very moving videos on their “Show You Care” theme, which highlights the fact that purchases from Traidcraft or their stockists help to support some of the world’s most underprivileged producers, through in-country partners who run developmental and health care programmes for producers and their families. Here is the link to one such video about Bongi, a skilled candle-maker in Swaziland. The new Traidcraft videos will be unveiled at the AGM and promoted online in September 2016.

Joanna Pollard, BAFTS' Chair, discussing the benefits of membership and our 2017 Annual Conference

Joanna Pollard, BAFTS’ Chair, discussing the benefits of membership and our 2017 Annual Conference

Joanna and I then took to the floor and explained about how BAFTS was set up, its structure and aims, and  plans for our next Annual Conference. After lunch we heard some interesting tips on social media, not least of all why the recent algorithm introduced on Facebook now serves to show predominantly family and friends’ posts over those from publishers, brands, and other pages. In other words to push your sales you need to adopt a small advertising budget to get noticed. The presentation on social media will be made available via this website in due course.

We rounded off the day by placing orders from the Autumn/Winter range, and a browse round the shop, which is open to all and also has some interesting end-of-line stock. There are a good range of images on our social media to represent a very interesting and enjoyable day.


Posted in Fair Trade

Homeless World Cup Glasgow 10-16 July 2016

The Homeless World Cup is currently taking place in George Square, Glasgow, from 10-16 July. It is a pioneering event which started in 2001 and now has involvement from more than 70 countries, with more wanting to join in. It touches 100,000 homeless people a year through football but, as Mel Young, Co-Founder and President of Homeless World Cup states, it barely scratches the surface with over 100,000,000 people homeless globally (see next paragraph). We are delighted to say that BAFTS’ member Bala Sport is providing the Fairtrade-certified footballs for the event, which is co-sponsored by Scotmid Cooperative. The Homeless World Cup works with a network of 73 organisations, representing 73 nations. They all use football to help homeless and socially disadvantaged people around the world.


As a bit of background to the figures quoted above, it was 2005 when the last global survey was attempted by the UN. At that time the figure of homeless people worldwide was estimated at 100,000,000, with as many as 1.6 billion lacking adequate housing as per Habitat 2015. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that there are varying definitions of homelessness from country to country, and census data rarely applies to those residing in slums, squatting or those people who are frequently relocated. In other words, the figures are likely to be a lot higher. For more in-depth information, please visit their website  above (under “About”, our National Partners).

The Homeless World Cup draws players from both developed and underdeveloped countries such as Scotland, Sweden, Australia, Egypt, Mexico, Grenada, Kyrgyzstan, Chile, India and the Ivory Coast. A full list of countries and their national partners is available on the Homeless World Cup website. Many young adults, both male and female, have fought hard to represent their country and for some, it is the first time they have been outside of their homeland. In many cases, the opportunity to play football has been a chance to overcome personal difficulties, with 500 players being selected each year by the global network of street football partners. Unsurprisingly, 94% of participants say that the Games have positively impacted their lives, and 77% say that their lives have changed significantly due to their involvement.


The touching player stories highlight in-country networks making a massive difference – such as the Big Issue Korea, which helped a young man back on his feet after a work accident left him living in homeless shelters and depressed. The homeless shelter put him in contact with Big Issue Korea and thanks to them, he started playing football. Similarly, a homeless single mother of two in Kenya heard about Street soccer and ended up leading her country’s national team to victory in 2011, a story which has inspired many other girls in her community. Not only that, as a result of her footballing successes, she won a scholarship which enabled her to return to education, and she now coaches herself.

Of course, the plight of homelessness is not just a problem in less-developed countries, and there are player stories of illness, difficulties and addiction which have been turned around in European countries too. The Cup is a great opportunity for players to unite in enjoying a common passion whilst highlighting the work which still needs doing on this front.


Bala Sport’s Angus Coull with Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow July 2016

Posted in Fair Trade

Thirty Million Film Synopsis

A new film about Climate Change was released by Raw Cinematics a few days ago called Thirty Million, co-directed by Daniel Price, Polar Arctic Researcher and Founder of the PoletoParis bike ride and run which Kathryn, our Executive Officer, took part in last Autumn, in order to raise awareness of Climate Change and its devastating consequences, prior to the Paris talks in December 2015.


Thirty Million what, you may well wonder? This is the figure of Bangladeshis estimated to be displaced or die (over time from hunger, disease, drowning, or inability to adapt to new environment) if global temperatures continue to rise and carbon dioxide emissions remain unchecked, causing a sea level rise of about 1 meter by the end of the century. This would cause a land loss of 17% in Bangladesh, a very low-lying country with lots of rivers and canals, with sea waters to the South (Bay of Bengal) and the Himalayan Glaciers to the North. It would also create mass displacement of up to 30,000,000 people. It is important that we involved in Fair Trade look closely at such factors as integral to the reasons why we need to continue to support such a developing country, in order that we gain a better understanding of the many factors which work to keep a country in poverty, nay drive it even further down the poverty ladder.

Looking more closely at the facts, there are 160 million people in Bangladesh, and its main industries are fishing, agriculture, textile industries, ship building and shipwrecking. It is a land or rivers, canals and lakes with many people’s lives being intricately linked with, and dependent upon, water. Since the Industrial revolution, Climate Change has transformed the face of the planet, massively, with 40 billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide being released into the atmosphere each year. This has been coupled with mass deforestation (ie a reduction in carbon-dioxide absorbing trees) and intensive animal agriculture (an increase in production of CO 2). This huge increase in the expulsion of Carbon Dioxide  into the atmosphere mea12976798_990217761074771_4814618926587442469_ons that additional heat is trapped, and water takes up 90% of this increased energy. In doing so, heated waters expand and take up more room ie increased sea levels and melting (ant-)arctic ice sheets, plus glacial melts. One of the results is an inundation in low-lying countries…like Bangladesh. How fast the C0 2 emissions rise depends upon developed nations and whether they choose to take action to curb emissions.

Bangladesh is already witnessing a new erosion of its coastal zone, which is affecting its agriculture. Too much water causes flooding (as in monsoon times), too little causes drought, too much saline water kills the crops, and too much water at  a period of crop growth kills the crops as well and can be disastrous for its economy and peoples. The sea not only rises but encroaches into their coastal areas, and saline water is undrinkable. As temperatures rise, the glacial melt from the Himalayas in the North will provide at first an inundation (many in the North get their fresh water supply from here) but in the long-term water will be scarce, as water sources dry up completely. There are attempts to adapt rice to grow in salinated waters, but adaptation can only go so far. A 1-2 degree rise in global temperatures could signal life or death in the precariously-balance ecosystems of Bangladesh, especially in the vulnerable coastal regions, as communities are forced to uproot and readapt. As heritage is literally swept away, the cities become even harder pressed to cope. In this respect, climate is a massive factor is the economic displacement of Bangladeshis.

This displacement is already happening, with mass migration to the cities, where there is not enough infrastructure to cope. Overcrowded slums grow up, with poor sanitation, little food and no space and can be areas prone to catastrophe and risk. Inevitably, people will cross borders to get away. The UNDP (United Nations’ Development Programme) is working in Bangladesh to help adaptation by training in mangrove planting, providing access to land and food for some, but this will be useless if the sea levels rise.


The film argues that humans are making the lives and livelihoods of other humans endangered, by not acting responsibly and quickly enough to stem the potentially disastrous effects of continued climate change. It is a moral issue of the 21st Century; for people are being deprived of basic human rights such as food, clean water, shelter and a home. The West has time to look at tomorrow, but those affected are too busy dealing with the consequences today and every day to step back. The coastal peoples in Bangladesh don’t want to move; they live very simple sustainable lives but are being forced to move due to inequality; an inequality which demands international action, especially given the fact that the Bangladeshis have contributed so little to the climate change which is eroding their fundamental human rights. So, what do you think?


Posted in Fair Trade

The ABC of BAFTS’ 2016 Conference -Amazing Bristol Create Centre Conference!


The Create Centre Bristol

It is already well over two weeks since the BAFTS’ 2016 Annual Conference took place, and yet the thanks and praise for what was probably our best Conference yet still rings in our ears. Despite problems with the late announcement of a road race which could have made direct access well nigh impossible, we managed to sort this out alongside the Create Centre and had a very smooth two day period.


The Create centre, Spike Island, Bristol


Bala Sport with their FAIRTRADE Mark certified footballs

We had 11 member suppliers who exhibited: Danusha, new members Koolskools, Weaving Hope and Bala Sport; Greater Goods, JTS (Just Trading Scotland), Silkthreads, Global Seesaw, Carishea, Traidcraft, Kerala Crafts. As well as a great selection of products to view, place orders for and buy, we had a wide selection of speakers across both days, hearing some very eye-opening statistics and pieces of information from Shared Interest, Fair Connections, several producer stories, Aled Pickard (Fair Do’s research) and Koolskools plus learnt about setting up a CIC. We had more excellent presentations from Gaynor Humphreys (Best Years) on Trends in Fair Trade Retail, heard Traidcraft’s Alistair Leadbetter talk on supplier compliance; listened to Greg Valerio (Valerio Jewellery on mining Fairtrade Gold without the hazards of mercury), and Jenny Foster (Fairtrade Bristol) on Sustainability and the SDGs. All of the talks served to underscore the benefits of Fair Trade, how much difference it really does make, and all the hard effort that goes into creating networks of support for producers.


Shared Interest talk

The Sunday evening was full of delightful African Dancing with Louis Eboa Roger at the Southbank Club, who had us exhausted with exotic dance moves on a warm Summer’s evening. On the Monday afternoon, following more supplier stalls and talks, the AGM went smoothly with the proposed two resolutions being passed. These were to do away with the current Fee Table and replace it with a membership fee based upon a percentage of turnover, with certain caps on maximum figures to be paid. The second resolution passed was to have evidence of turnover provided for the purposes of invoicing members. We voted in a new Treasurer Christine Brittijn (Greater Goods) and welcomed our new Administrator Hannah Jacobs. Hopefully the selection of images chosen will highlight what a  great time we all had.

Posted in Fair Trade

Ecuador Earthquake 16/04/16 (Fashion Revolution) by Laura Cave (Just Trade UK Ltd)

Laura is currently on her annual visit to our producer groups in Ecuador and Peru.  On 16th April a devastating earthquake hit Ecuador as she was travelling between groups.  Below is her story:

Saturday 16th April

After a productive two days working with the artisans in Sosote, in the province of Manabi, Vilma (our colleague and co-coordinator in Ecuador) and I finished the workshop with a discussion about Fashion Revolution. We explained about the Rana Plaza disaster and the terrible conditions that the people were forced to work in. Ronald, Darwin and Fernando all agreed to have their photo taken with the ‘I made your jewellery’ sign, keen to spread the word of the importance of fair pay and good working conditions.


We took the photos (L to R: Fernando, Ronald and Darwin), packed up the new samples and made our way to catch a bus into Portoviejo – the plan was to get an overnight bus from there to Esmeraldas in the North. The artisans waited with us to ensure we got on the right bus. It was starting to get dark, so Fernando suggested borrowing a car to give us a lift, we gratefully accepted and Carlos came along for the ride.

It was whilst in the office buying the bus tickets that the earthquake started – I have experienced several tremors before whilst working in Peru and been taught to get outside as quickly as possible. I was standing by the door so ran out into the middle of the street, however it was quickly clear that this was more than just a tremor… Empty parked cars were rolling up and down the street with their alarms going off in a ghostly manner. I was struggling to stand up, it was like being on a boat in a storm. I turned around and realised that the others were clinging to the post of the porch of the building and shouting for me to join them… I managed to get back to them and we clung to the pillar. It was terrifying – the three story building next door collapsed completely, showering the road where I had been standing seconds before with rubble. The air was thick with dust, people were screaming, children crying out, there were flashes as the power lines came down and the city was plunged into darkness and chaos. After what seemed like ages the earthquake subsided, although it was hard to tell when it was over as we were all shaking so much.

It was quickly decided that we weren’t going to be getting a bus that night and it would be better to return to Sosote. Fernando and Carlos were worried about their families and desperate to get back home. We jumped in the car and attempted to leave the city but every corner we turned, we were met with massive piles of rumble and power lines draped across the road. So many buildings were completely destroyed, it seemed to be an indiscriminate mix of old and new building; posh hotels and banks just as likely to have collapsed as ramshackle constructions. It looked as though it had been bombed. We kept trying to phone the families back in Sosote but all communication was cut off. We finally got back to Sosote and thankfully everyone there was safe.

I think the most scary thing during the quake itself was there was nothing we could do – adrenaline kicks in and with it the fight or flight instinct… Neither of which are any good – the only thing we could do was try to remain standing and wait until it was over, praying that the building we were sheltering in didn’t collapse.


Tuesday 19th April

Sosote is still without electricity and running water and there is no news as to when they can expect to be reconnected. Drinking water and food supplies are running low and so far no help has reached them. Fortunately no one in the small town was seriously hurt, but out of the five artisans we work with, three have lost their homes.

Vilma and I managed to get back to Quito on Monday night. We are in regular contact with the artisans and working out the best way we can help. They are desperate to start work again, and have asked for an electricity generator. We are working out how to send one, together with food parcels and provisions.


Fair Trade is about long term relationships. We have been working with the artisans in Sosote for over five years now; we have developed a great commercially successful collection and several bespoke ranges. We are completely committed to helping them get back on their feet and continuing our relationship based on fair trading principles. The point of fair trade is that it is trade not aid… However due to the exceptional and unprecedented scale of the current situation, we have set up a Just Giving page. Immediate needs are to pay for an electricity generator, food, water and clothing for those who lost everything. We are looking to raise £1000.

Medium term we are looking to raise money to help with the costs of rebuilding the homes that were destroyed. At the moment we don’t have figure for this but will keep you updated.

Longer term the best way you can support them is to continue to buy their wonderful products. Which brings us back to Fashion Revolution… Less than two hours after these photos of Ronald, Fernando and Darwin were taken, their lives had been turned upside down. Both Fernando and Darwin lost their homes. They are determined to carry on working and we are more determined than ever to support them in whatever way we can.

Who made your clothes, your jewellery, everything you consume… It matters, ask the question. The way you shop – it counts.

Laura Cave Founder Just Trade (UK) Ltd.

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