Congratulations to the Melrose and District Fairtrade Group in the Scottish Borders for achieving Fairtrade Town status!
Dave Potts, Group Secretary, said 'We are delighted to have achieved Fairtrade Town status. It is a great achievement for a small group of dedicated activists who have drawn on local support along the way, thereby raising awareness of Fairtrade and the benefits it brings. One of the best moments for me came in Fairtrade Fortnight this year when I was approached in the street by a group of pupils from Melrose Primary School undertaking some Fairtrade outreach work, who explained clearly and graphically the benefits of the Fairtrade Premium. A result!'
Sophie Tolley, the Forum's Community Engagement Officer, said 'It's wonderful to see the Melrose group's hard work rewarded and to have another Fairtrade Town in the Borders. We're excited to see what they do next and support them in any way we can.'
Melrose and District Fairtrade Group was formed in January 2014 with the primary intention of working towards achieving Fairtrade town status for Melrose and the surrounding four villages. The group was formally launched during Fairtrade Fortnight 2014.
During the year - with a very small group of activists - some notable success was achieved in raising awareness of Fair Trade and the benefits it brings to farmers and producers in developing countries. A strong working relationship was forged with the local primary school. Group members provided in-school support through presentations and discussions which were based on the visits of group members to developing countries where they could see Fairtrade in action. Through school, pupils undertook a survey with parents and carers to determine current knowledge and use of Fairtrade products. This was matched later in the year by a local survey of businesses, retailers and groups to discover the use and availability of Fairtrade products. This information proved the baseline against which to match future success.
The group has also given talks to local community groups, enhanced by providing Fairtrade tray bakes and opportunities to sample Fairtrade wine! The work of the group has received regular and prominent coverage in local media through regular news releases highlighting important milestones.
As a result of these efforts the school now has a strong commitment to Fairtrade, has set up its own Fairtrade Committee and started a Fairtrade tuck shop. The group continues to provide support to them. All three local churches are now signed up as Fairtrade places of worship and the Melrose and District Fairtrade Group is part of the wider Greener Melrose (Transition Town) group and contributes to its local events.
Now with a formal constitution the small committee meets when required and this usually incorporates pupil delegates from the primary school. The group supports the local Traidcraft Trader and has also taken the Fairtrade message to neighbouring areas to encourage others to think about forming their own Fairtrade groups.
In May this year the group submitted its application for Fairtrade Town status which it achieved in August. This process involved some very constructive meetings with the local council who have now renewed their commitment to Fairtrade and their support for local groups such as ours. Melrose is now the third town in the Scottish Borders to achieve Fairtrade Town status and gratefully acknowledge a large measure of support from their colleagues in the Selkirk Fairtrade Town Group.