From volunteering in your local Fair Trade group, a Fair Trade business or in the Forum's office, there are plenty of ways to get involved in Fair Trade in Scotland.
To mark #VolunteersWeek 2018, we asked people from a range of Fair Trade groups across Scotland why they dedicate their time to Fair Trade. Read on and be inspired!
Bonnie, Edinburgh Fair Trade Group
I am currently the secretary of the Edinburgh Fairtrade City Group, and have been volunteering with the group since early 2015, not long after I moved to the UK. One of my first international holidays was to Cambodia. Seeing that folk lived and worked in varying degrees of wealth and health opened my eyes to seeing what we in the developed world have, compared to what those in the developing world have. I wanted to support in some way a change in the status quo. I began volunteering for Oxfam and learned of Fair Trade as giving people opportunities to grow via trade.
I have gained many skills from volunteering - from project management, to community engagement, to promotion, to governance, to partner collaboration. Since beginning volunteering I have developed a career in the charity sector, studied International Development, and supported the strengthening of a developing nation's (Solomon Islands) civil society via Australia's aid programme (my home country).
My favourite memory has been getting to meet various Fair Trade producers that the Scottish Fair Trade Forum has hosted in the past few years, and hearing from them first-hand the impact that Fair Trade has on their communities. Even though snow interrupted the Mzuzu coffee producers' visit during Fairtrade Fortnight in 2018, my friend and I had a great day with them, walking in the snow, taking a peek at the Royal Yacht Britannia, having a nice hot soup and hearing a lot about their coffee production, the training they give their pickers, and how they get their product away to export markets.
Janis, Inverness Fair Trade Group
"Fairtrade has an inspiring message. Instead of moaning about the state of the world- the unfairness in it – engaging with Fairtrade is so positive for us. Fairtrade helps bring real change to people’s lives. I know we are good at giving to charities but for recipients, charity can have a negative feel to it. In contrast, by making a few changes ourselves and buying more Fairtrade items we are supporting people to help themselves and bringing them a bit more justice and fairness.
Working with the Fairtrade Group is a pleasure. We make our meetings fun and regularly share a meal together, all bringing something for a potluck supper. So I have made new friends with whom I have a lot in common. We always aim to keep things manageable and realistic. It’s a great advert for collaborative working!
My favourite memory is of visiting Ghanaian cocoa farmers one Fairtrade Fortnight. The two women were answering questions from a class of 10 and 11 year olds who had been absorbed in the talk they had given about what Fairtrade is and the benefits Fairtrade agreements had brought to them and their communities. One youngster asked, ‘If Fairtrade is so good for you, why haven’t more of you got Fairtrade agreements? ’The women paused and answered slowly looking deeply at the children and said with emphasis, ‘We’d all love Fairtrade agreements but it’s up to you’. The room was silent while the children considered this and then the penny dropped."
James, Glasgow Fairtrade Cooperative (pictured 4th left)
I’d always had a keen interest in social justice and when I left university I got the chance to work for a fantastic organisation called Just Trading Scotland. While I was there I was constantly inspired by the brilliant work being done by volunteers across the country and wanted to keep a connection with that after I’d left.
Personally, it’s always really enjoyable to meet up with the rest of the folk from the Glasgow Fairtrade Cooperative and continuing to do something to help producers across the globe is really fulfilling. Professionally it’s given me a brilliant insight to what it’s like sitting on a board and has given me a great chance to develop new skills.
Working with schools has always been the highlight for me, seeing it from their perspective about how simple it is that everyone in the world should be treated fairly and humanely is always so heartening!
Annika, The Scottish Fair Trade Forum
I am a Public Affairs Volunteer for the Forum. I research current topics relating to Fair Trade and write briefing papers on them which are then shared with other Fair Trade activists. I also help out with events such as conferences and Fairtrade Fortnight. I have been active in various organisations fighting for global economic justice for a few years now and I think Fair Trade plays an essential part in achieving that. After working with an NGO critical to free trade agreements, I became interested in solutions to end exploitation in the Global South and started to learn more about Fair Trade.
Volunteering at the Forum has helped me learn a lot about Fair Trade and given me valuable insights to use for my Masters thesis dealing with the commercialisation of Fair Trade. I was also able to meet Fair Trade producers from Malawi and other activists in both Fair Trade groups and third-sector organisations. This human connection has made the abstract topic of Fair Trade much more approachable for me as I was able to directly learn about the impact it makes to producers.
My favourite memory from volunteering in Fair Trade was the Lake of Stars Festival at the Art School. It was part of Fairtrade Fortnight and featured a line-up of African bands and performers which were absolutely incredible and got the crowd dancing within seconds.
Duncan & Roisin (husband and wife), Rainbow Turtle, Paisley.
We have been volunteers in Rainbow Turtle, a Fair Trade shop in Paisley, since we retired. Duncan has been volunteering for 8 years and Roisin for 3 years. We got involved through a friend who organised a monthly Fairtrade stall after Mass in Paisley around 20 years ago.
We enjoy knowing that we make a contribution, raising awareness of what Fair Trade is and its beneficial impact for producers, and enabling people to see that they can make a real difference as consumers. It great being part of keeping Paisley alive for shopping locally. We have made friends and enjoy being part of a team with the aim of promoting Fair Trade.
Meeting Fair Trade producers has had a tremendous impact on us, especially Ishmael from Guatemala who stayed with us. Hearing about the transformation that Fairtrade has made to their lives, helping them to achieve things that we take for granted like education.
We always enjoy children coming to the shop with their parents during Fairtrade Fortnight to do class projects and hearing the children being able to tell their parents what Fair Trade is about.
Rainbow Turtle is currently looking for volunteers. To apply, visit Volunteer Scotland.
Volunteer at the Scottish Fair Trade Forum.
Find a Fair Trade shop/supplier near you.