There’s something special when schools come together for a common cause. And that’s what happens here at Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, as we get ready for Fairtrade Fortnight.
Each year, as Education and Community Officer for the Abbey, I co-ordinate the Hexham Schools Fair Trade Project which began five years ago as Hexham worked towards achieving Fairtrade Town status.
In early January, just as the Christmas decorations are being put away, teachers from the town’s seven schools meet at the Abbey and we choose an aspect of fair trade as the focus for our project. In the weeks that follow, each school explores the theme with all of its pupils or a designated year group. The children also create artwork to highlight some of the important aspects of the topic. In previous years we have hung homemade bees in the Abbey’s pear tree to highlight fair trade honey, painted with coffee and installed banana trees in the church!
In Fairtrade Fortnight itself, it’s all go. The schools hold non-school uniform days to fundraise and host Big Brews for parents. The Abbey hosts an exhibition of the pupils’ artwork for the wider town to enjoy and compliments this with our own Big Brew. (Nothing quite beats drinking a cup of tea and munching on homemade cake as you soak up at the Abbey’s stunning 12th century architecture!) Most importantly of all, representatives from all the schools come to the Abbey for an informal service to mark our commitment to fair trade and to think of all those involved in helping to make the world a fairer place.
Traidcraft is always part of our planning as we draw on its information and educational resources, and host Big Brews to fundraise.
But this year is special.
We are taking Traidcraft’s Fair Necessities Appeal as the theme for the school's project and hope to make this our 'best-ever’ fundraising year. Traidcraft's Fair Necessities Appeal highlights the shocking number of smallholder farmers in developing countries who are unable to access the most basic of life's essentials. For more than 30 years, Traidcraft has been offering the training, skills, knowledge and investment to enable smallholder farmers to finally escape the poverty cycle they are stuck in and grow more, earn more and eat more.
It’s fantastic to think that every pound we raise for this amazing appeal will be doubled by the government’s UK Aid Match Scheme. And it’s even better to know that lots of children in Hexham will come to appreciate what the true fair necessities of life are this Fairtrade Fortnight.