Committed Holme Valley Fairtrade member, Peter Beetlestone, writes below of his experience and thoughts from the day.
Helen Robinson and Sophie Bebb have encouraged Jason McCartney (Conservative, MP for Colne Valley) and Holly Lynch (Labour, MP for Halifax) to set up this parliamentary group whose aim is “to promote Fairtrade within Parliament; to deepen the relationship between local Fairtrade organisations and parliamentarians and to further raise awareness of the importance of Fairtrade.”
When we arrived we were treated to a mini tour of Parliament by Jason. We were given passes to hear the emergency debate on Syria from the Public Gallery, we went on the terrace with fantastic views of the Thames and the buildings along the waterfront, we met Boris Johnson and David Blunkett (I nearly fell over his dog on the stairs).
At the two hour launch in the Jubilee Room we were joined by 37 MPs, representatives from the Fairtrade Foundation (including Tim Aldred), representatives from the Co-operative Group (including Kerry Stower, the store Manager in Holmfirth) and many others.
Over a Big All Day Breakfast (the theme for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight) there were short speeches from MPs Jason and Holly, from Holme Valley Fairtrade's Chair Helen, from the Minister of State for International Development, from Mike Gidney (Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation), from Brad Hill (Fairtrade Strategy Manager for the Co-op) and most importantly from Patrick (a tea farmer from Kenya) and Julio (a banana farmer from Columbia).
The two farmers spoke very movingly about how Fairtrade had brought great benefits to their families and their communities. One of the pupils said afterwards “he made me want to cry.” They made us all realise how important it is to keep promoting Fairtrade – helping people work their way out of poverty.
We can all take little steps to change to world.