Guest blog: Bruce Crowther, Fairtrade Towns Co-ordinator

Bruce Crowther, creator of the Fairtrade Towns idea, and Fairtrade Towns Advisor at the Fairtrade Foundation blogs on his recent visit to Oxford.

I had the great pleasure to attend and speak at the first of the EU ‘Local Government Meeting the Millennium Goals’ seminars hosted at Oxford Town Hall in November last year. As well as hearing from fair trade pioneers such as Jon Danzig (co founder of Campaign Coffee) it was great to hear how Oxford is working to promote Fairtrade with its partner cities in Germany, Austria and Hungary and in particular to learn how the City Council continues to show its support for Oxford as a Fairtrade City. I have fond memories of Oxford declaring alongside Cambridge as a Fairtrade City as part of the Ten Cities initiative, when five pairs of ‘rival’ cities agreed to make their declarations on the same day during Fairtrade Fortnight 2004.

But as the home of Oxfam it is not unusual for Oxford to be at the forefront when it comes to promoting fair trade and trade justice. During the seminar Carol Wills showed us the first fair trade product to be sold in the UK, which was a pin cushion
made by refugees in Hong Kong and sold in Oxfam shops in the 1950s. Along with Traidcraft, Oxfam was one of the first to market fair trade goods through their shops and mail order catalogues in the 1960’s and of course as Jon reminded
us Oxford was the home of Campaign Coffee. I also had the enormous pleasure to attend the first Patron Roadshow when George Alagiah, then Patron for the Fairtrade Foundation, visited Oxford in 2003 and in the same year I had the honour
to present the first Fairtrade Universities certificate to Rex Knight, then Deputy Vice Chancellor and Registrar of Oxford Brookes University. Finally, and much closer to my own home, it was the Oxfam group in Garstang that gave rise to the international movement of over 1,000 Fair Trade Towns in 23 countries when their campaign led to the people of Garstang declaring their town the world’s first Fair Trade Town in April 2000.

So long may the Oxford Fairtrade City campaign continue and I wish the Oxford Fairtrade Coalition and Oxford City Council every success in continuing to promote Fairtrade in 2012 and beyond.

Bruce Crowther
Fairtrade Towns Advisor
Fairtrade Foundation
January 2012


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