- Lorna Strong
- email: email@example.com
Seeped in history, the 2,000-year-old Border City has a turbulent past. Part of the debatable lands during the time of the Reviers, the city has been in both English and Scottish territory. Carlisle Castle was briefly home to Mary, Queen of Scots. During the Stuart Civil Wars, the City was staunchly Royalist and endured a long siege at the hands of the Roundheads. Industry boomed during the industrial revolution causing the city to expand.
However, Carlisle is not fixed in the past. Castle and cathedral sit side by side with fantastic shops and galleries. Three university campuses ensure a student population which has produced a lively social scene and buzzing nightlife. A feast of cultural events takes place throughout the year in the centre. There are also many cafés, some of which offer a Fairtrade alternative.
The Carlisle Fairtrade Group, under the umbrella of the Carlisle One World Centre, represents retailers, schools, colleges, churches and the local government. The campaign for trade justice in Carlisle began with the opening of the One World Centre in the Church of Scotland roughly 10 years ago. Today, the One World Centre has its own premises on Lowthian's Lane adjoining the Carlisle World Shop, a Fairtrade shop accredited by British Association of Fairtrade Shops (BAFTS).
Fairtrade products are now readily available in many other city centre shops and cafes. A number of local businesses and organisations have now signed up to use and promote Fairtrade products.
Inspired by the opening of the Carlisle World Shop in September 2003, a small group decided to take on the challenge of making Carlisle a Fairtrade city. It began as small group of activists who each brought their own skills to the campaign. This group applied for funding in 2004 which enabled them to campaign more effectively. With the support of the Judith Pattinson, the outgoing mayor, the group gained the resolution from the City Council needed in support of Carlisle as a Fairtrade City.
In March 2005 Carlisle became one of the first 100 towns to receive Fairtrade status. The Mayor, Councillor Ralph Aldersey, officially marked Carlisle as a Fairtrade city at a special celebration on Monday 7 March. Councillor Aldersey said: “I am very proud that our city wishes to uphold the aims of the Fairtrade Foundation, which exists to improve the position of poor and marginalized producers in the developing world. The City Council is committed to helping to promote Fairtrade wherever we can.”
At this event in the Tithe Barn, guest speaker Tadesse Meskela presented the Mayor with a certificate from the Fairtrade Foundation. Mr Meskela is the General Manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers' Co-operative Union in Ethiopia. He works to market Oromia's coffee to Fairtrade, organic and speciality buyers around the world so that his members will get a just reward for their crop. Look out for Black Gold, a new documentary which follows Tadesse as he tries to get a fair price for his farmers. It will be coming to UK cinema's in June 2007.
Since gaining Fairtrade status for Carlisle, the group has continued to campaign for increased awareness of the Fairtrade mark.
In August 2005 and 2006, Carlisle Cathedral has hosted Carlisle's Great Fair Trade Fair; twelve stalls selling a wealth of products from a variety of countries - Malawi, Manipur, Ecuador and Thailand to name but a few - all produced and traded under fair conditions.
Also in 2005 and 2006, the group have attended Freshers' Fairs in each of the three city campuses to encourage students to become involved in the campaign. In addition, the work with young people has vastly increased through workshops with Primary schools during One World Week and competitions during Fairtrade Fortnight as well as assemblies, lessons and other work with secondary aged students. It is hoped that there will soon be at least one Fairtrade Secondary school in Carlisle.