Fairtrade Nation

On 6th June 2008 Wales made history by becoming the first ever Fairtrade nation.  Chris Pilsbury, former senior community organiser for TCC, recalls how it all began.

"TCC, Together Creating Communities, is a broadbased community organisation.  10 years ago, we called together a very broad base, for instance, Wrexham football club, the university, the farmers union among others, not necessarily who you would expect. The Co-op were integral but the heroes we recognised and brought together were the men and women who had been selling Fairtrade from the backs of their churches individually for years, and of course our own very committed TCC membership.
Together we had a vision for Fairtrade at home and overseas.  We knew we had to get recognition for overseas first.  Part of that, again organising teaching, was to help Wrexham Council see it was in its self-interest to actively support and make policies to do so, which it did.
We developed a pattern to make Wrexham the first Fairtrade county in Wales.  Not without difficulty because the English Fairtrade Foundation was very precious and did not want to recognise our initiative.  We were of course successful and within one more year we replicated county status in Flintshire and Denbighshire, with all 3 counties supporting and working together.  This pattern was then used across Wales and formed the basis from which Wales became the first Fairtrade country in the world 5 years later. 
TCC is very proud of this achievement, whilst recognising it did not do this alone and others elsewhere achieved different aspects e.g. working with the Welsh Assembly, obtaining a grant for a full-time dedicated worker etc.  Nonetheless, it was TCC that forged the way.  It was hard work, great fun and a matter of integrity that continues and is as important today."

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TCC members, MPs, councillors and local residents packed into St. Margaret’s in Wrexham for TCC’s Spring Public Assembly. 

Ysgol y GrangoThe evening opened with entertainment from incredibly talented students from Ysgol y Grango – Tom showed off some of his dancing skills as seen on Sky 1’s ‘Got to Dance’, Chloe sang a stunning version of ‘Skinny Love’ and Robert sang a beautiful Welsh nursery rhyme a cappella. 

Tracey Day, pastor of Penycae Church of the Nazarene and Rob Owen, leader of Transition Holywell welcomed the audience and explained how TCC works – using community organising to bring groups together, building power in the local community so that people can take action on issues important to them.   

DSC 7916Inspector for Wrexham increases police presence

The first issue of the evening was presented by Ann Owen of St Giles in Wrexham.  She showed how church members and local businesses were concerned about anti-social behaviour, and had seen a decrease in police presence in recent months.  Ann gave her own testimony of those in the church having to clear up drug needles and broken glass, and told stories of local shop owners in the town centre who have had people openly injecting drugs in their shop doorways during the day.  Ann then offered Inspector Mark Williams a chance to explain a pilot scheme which Wrexham PCSOs are currently participating in, which has changed the areas in which they patrol.  Inspector Williams was put on the spot by Ann, as she “detained him” on stage, and got a commitment to have PSCOs patrol St Giles and into the town centre. 

Mark Isherwood AMFuneral issue success

Valerie Williams, Yvonne Pryce and Gerald Griffiths highlighted TCC’s work on funerals, and a fantastic success of getting every funeral director in Wrexham to commit to giving out their prices.  Mark Isherwood AM, chair of the cross party group on funerals and bereavement, spoke on his work, and pledged to raise the issue of regulation in the funeral industry at the Welsh Assembly.   

New doorstep loan action launched

Eulina Harper spoke about the impact of payday loans, and how TCC’s meeting with the Money Shop executives got them to change the way they lend online, making it less likely that people will borrow more than they need.  Maria Pizzoni went on to tell some shocking stories of people locally who had taken out doorstep loans – one lady she had spoken to had been paying off the same doorstep loan for over 20 years.

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Greg Brown, community organiser for Thrive, part of the Powered by People UK National Community Organising network, shared some stories from Teeside, where one person was paying £308 to various lenders, on an income of just £405 a week.  Greg launched the issue as a joint action between TCC and Thrive.  

Susan Elan Jones MP spoke passionately, expressing her surprise about the reluctance to bring in a cap on the total cost of credit, especially as the effects of high interest credit are impacting upon the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. 

Living Wage success at St Joseph’s High School

Maria Rimmer, head of St Joseph’s Catholic and Anglican High School, celebrated the fact that the school is now paying all of its employees a Living Wage.  This means that 12 members of staff have had a pay increase, allowing them to keep up with the cost of living.

Maria Rimmer

She spoke about TCC’s work with Wrexham and Flintshire Councils, with a statement from Councillor Mark Pritchard, deputy leader of Wrexham Council saying he hoped that Wrexham could become the first Living Wage Council in North Wales, if TCC continues its work. 

Councillor Arnold Woolley, Flintshire County Councillor spoke about how he had recently tabled a Notice of Motion, which resulted in an official recommendation from the full County Council to the Cabinet, to work towards the Living Wage – a great step forward.

Ian Lucas MP spoke about what a powerful and simple idea the Living Wage is, how important it is for workers’ respect and dignity, and the benefits it brings to the local economy, saying “together we can achieve a huge step for Wrexham”. 

5 day national community organising training

Ian Lucas MPThe meeting concluded with a video of the recent Powered by People UK national five day training, with Greg Galluzzo from the US, and testimony from some of those who took part.  Video available online soon!

An invitation was extended for people to get involved with TCC, either through taking up membership as a group, or supporting TCC’s work individually with a monthly donation. 

Thank you to everyone who attended and worked hard to make the night a fantastic success.  If you are interested finding out more, or supporting TCC in some way, please contact TCC’s lead organiser.  

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