Fair trade - because justice matters

June 11, 2015 - Martin Charlesworth

On 2 July, Traidcraft will be holding 'Justice Matters' – a service to reflect, pray and act for justice in international trade and business – in central London. Our preacher will be Martin Charlesworth. Here he offers his first thoughts on the theme.


I am of the generation that set the course of my ethical outlook mostly in the 1980s. University life, faith, marriage, life experiences, politics, career choices – they were all in the mix in that complex and intriguing process! Life experiences in particular had a big part in shaping my outlook. Formative years spent in Pakistan and a gap year spent in rural South Africa during the latter days of apartheid had a big impact. My wife’s upbringing in Uganda and war-torn southern Sudan also had their place in forming our values.

It was in that context that we first encountered Traidcraft. The vision and methodology immediately made sense – even though it was, of course, very formative in those days. We were amongst the first to buy fairly traded tea and coffee from church stalls. Some readers will remember those days! The products weren’t quite what they are now – but the values were!

In my thinking, trade justice has always been a vital part of the wider cause of social justice across the continents. However, what Traidcraft has done so admirably over the years is to demonstrate its message mostly with actions. Any campaign it has undertaken has always been matched with a robust track record of enabling fair trade to actually take place on an ever greater scale.

Looking back over the years it is amazing to see the advances made by the fair trade movement, to which Traidcraft has made a significant contribution. It was hard to imagine in those early days that fair trade products would become ‘mainstream’ and take a significant place on the shelves of supermarkets and high street retailers. Yet that is exactly what has happened.

Traidcraft was birthed out of a Christian social and economic vision. It is to this vision that many of its supporters will turn again when they gather at St Margaret’s, Westminster, for the Justice Matters service on Thursday 2 July at 6.00pm. It is my great privilege to give the address on that occasion. I shall be reflecting on the great prophecy of the Messiah Jesus, in Isaiah chapter 42, in which Isaiah states:

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter till he establishes justice on the earth.”  


Martin Charlesworth, is the Executive Director of Jubilee+ and a long term supporter and friend of Traidcraft. Martin was the pastor of a community church in Shrewsbury for many years before founding Jubilee+, which helps churches to engage with social action and social justice. He spent his early years in Pakistan and has been involved in development work in South Africa and Eastern Europe.

Find out more about Justice Matters and book your place now.