Meet Tracy Mitchell, a hugely influential Fair Trader based in Glasgow who has been involved in fair trade in too many ways to count…
How did you first get involved with Traidcraft?
For as long as I can remember I have been interested in environmental concerns and practical ways of helping others. Whilst my church youth group leaders in Bristol encouraged these interests, I became specifically interested in fair trade through others in my church in Glasgow in the 1990s. I became a Fair Trader in 2003 essentially as part of a “job swap” – the folks that had started the Traidcraft stall in our church in the mid-1990s stood down so one of them could take over the church treasurer role from me and with my free time I started helping on the stall instead and a short while later took on the Fair Trader role.
How has your involvement with Traidcraft changed over the years?
My involvement has grown and grown! Initially we ran a stall probably once a month or so after the morning service and a few additional events. We became a Fairtrade Church in 2005 and (partly based on asking for help when I was pregnant/had a very young daughter) I now have a small team helping with the stall on a regular basis, including several children (as well as my daughter now aged 7). We have grown our sales 5-fold in the last 10 years and now regularly stock items from JTS (our local fair trade importer based in Paisley) as well as Traidcraft and occasionally from other suppliers such as Bala Sport and Carishea.
Do you do anything different on the run up to Fairtrade Fortnight?
Each year we hold a fair trade breakfast/coffee morning in or around Fairtrade Fortnight, as well as running additional stalls and producing ‘ideas for action’ flyers for the church notices for that period.
What motivates you to do what you do?
Micah 6:8 – My passion for fair trade comes from my faith in a generous God who has loved us in sending Jesus Christ, and calls us now to love our neighbours. I find the idea of trade not aid as a sustainable solution to poverty very inspiring and now devote a large part of my daily life to fair trade related projects.
I worked for Shared Interest (the world’s leading fair trade lender) from 2005-8 and through this I developed a real appreciation of and belief in the impact of fair trade organisations around the world; visiting producer groups in West Africa, speaking at fair trade conferences around the world and working in partnership with the Fairtrade Foundation & IFAT (now WFTO) and the wider fair trade movement. When I left Shared Interest I was keen to remain involved in fair trade and, as well as now working with JTS on a regular basis, I remain an Investor & Ambassador with Shared Interest; I am on the Board of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum and I now coordinate my local Fairtrade Town group. Inspired by my daughter's recognition of the Fairtrade Mark well before she was 2 years old, we piloted a scheme locally for promoting fair trade at Nursery level which has since been rolled out across Scotland. In September I was elected as Scotland’s rep on the Fairtrade Foundation’s National Campaigner Committee.
Do you have an anecdote about anything you’ve done that worked particularly well or was unique to you?
Not exactly an anecdote but a story of gradual growth - fair trade has become a core part of the life of St Silas’ Church with our fair trade work being at the start of numerous aspects of our outreach. Our presence at the local Gala started with the giving away fair trade items outside the church (and now we welcome in excess of 2000 visitors into the church for our free fair trade cafe each year) and the church’s Christmas Craft Fair started life as a Fair Trade Breakfast with a few fair trade Christmas items for sale. More recently we have supported the Meaningful Easter Egg and Advent Calendar campaigns, launched Clean and Fair household products and taken part in the 90kg Rice Challenge! In October 2014 we became the first church in the UK to sell over a tonne of fairly traded Kilombero Rice from JTS, thereby making a significant difference to the lives of smallholder famers in Malawi and enabling those farmers to send 11 children to secondary school. In 2015 we called on the congregation to support Traidcraft in their campaign to Show you Care by asking people to “swap your shop” and through this saw a significant increase in the purchases being made at our fair trade stall.
Where next? Who knows?
Thank you Tracy – what you do is truly inspirational. You’re a Pioneer!