As part of the Justice Matters campaign, a number of the Traidcraft staff team have been given different themes for a blog post. Mine is “justice and practical community action.”
Born and raised in Liverpool; on 15 April 1989 I was pretending not to watch the large tv screens at the sports shop in London where I worked. They showed the build up to the FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. What unfolded on screen brought the large Oxford Street store to a standstill; customers and staff standing together - united in stunned disbelief. What happened that day came to be summed up by one word – “Hillsborough.”
Hillsborough lead directly to the deaths of 96 men, women and children, devastating their families and for countless others life would never be the same again. The families and surviving fans then had to endure years of ‘blame’ and ‘allegations’ that suggested that somehow the fans had caused the tragedy. This was followed by an inability to get to the truth as the people in charge that day had lied to protect themselves.
Eventually, after 27 years of persistent practical community action and constant fighting, the families, always supported by a groundswell of support from the people of Liverpool have gone some way to achieving justice. They have certainly brought the truth into the light for the 96 and in doing so have exonerated the rest of the fans. In April this year a jury returned these findings:-
- The 96 people who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed, overturning the verdict of accidental death at the original inquest.
- No behaviour on the part of Liverpool fans contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles.
When the verdicts were finally announced, the City of Liverpool welcomed the families to lead an emotional rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ on the steps of St George’s Hall.
What happened in Liverpool in the fight for justice was made possible not just by the families and groundswell of public support, but also public figures who supported the families for decades, plus there actually was a process, albeit protracted and a legal system that ultimately did the right thing.
Our Justice Matters Campaign aims to bring into the light what happens when tragedy strikes and injustice occurs overseas. Specifically, when injustice is caused by British linked companies and there is no process to follow, no-one to go to and any amount of community action and outrage will achieve nothing.
That’s where we come in, the supporters of Traidcraft’s work. We are called to fight for the voiceless, in the same way as we have since 1979. Over the years the practical community ‘call to action’ that Traidcraft requested has morphed; initially we asked people to buy jute baskets from a hand drawn catalogue, then we wanted people who would ‘sell-on’ our products in their communities and act as our advocates. Our phenomenal ‘Fair Traders’ are an inspirational national network, who have lobbied their supermarkets and MP’s. They’ve argued the case for fair trade and generally shouted for the voiceless to anyone who would listen, when people were deaf to the concept. Like ‘Hillsborough’ it took years but eventually, the message was heard and now Fairtrade sales are worth more than £1.5 billion each year in the UK.
But Traidcraft does so much more than just sell Fairtrade Marked goods and our supporters and advocates have championed the cause in their communities to:
- Help sell Traidcraft products from some of the most marginalised groups. Traidcraft works to develop these groups from humble beginnings, but they’re groups who would never be able to trade in the scale required to supply a supermarket.
- Support our linked charity, who work with those in developing countries and help them to learn to trade their way out of poverty. Each of those projects creates justice for those workers, plus they have the satisfaction of taking practical action as communities to take control of their lives, their hopes and dreams
- Campaign to change the rules of trade to bring ‘justice’ to those who cannot fight their way out of poverty without our support. You can add your voice to our petition calling for changes in international trade at www.traidcraft.co.uk
And to all those supporters and advocates we ask that you keep supporting our work and keep promoting our work as a practical action in your community. We need you to support us to support those that can’t stand up for themselves.
“ …… though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone…… you’ll never walk alone”