Image: Fairtrade Fortnight 2018


Rainbow Turtle is a social enterprise in Paisley who provide their local community with the opportunity to purchase Fairtrade goods and, in doing so change lives all around the world.

‘You can change the world, providing you have the determination and the clarity of what it is that needs to be changed’. So said Precious Ramotswe, Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Lady Detective, in her characteristic way of bringing gentle wisdom into whatever situation she came across.

When we look around the world there are so many things that we might want to change it can be so overwhelming it becomes paralysing.

For the last 22 years I have been a Fairtrader with Traidcraft – the pioneering organisation that brought ‘Fair Trade’ to our vocabulary, delicious foods to our tables, and craft ware to our homes. Fifteen of those years have seen me helping run a fair trade shop, Rainbow Turtle, in Paisley.  A social enterprise that brings together supplier, customer, volunteer and staff – growing, creating buying and selling products that change people’s lives.

 I have visited many fair trade projects around the world and have seen people flourishing through the provision of health care and sanitation, receiving a decent income, women gaining recognition and respect,  children receiving education, young women freed from the fear of trafficking, and whole communities being uplifted. And all this simply because people like us choose to buy a product with a different label, a label that isn’t about what a bargain we are getting but about justice and dignity for the human faces behind it.

Some years ago I chatted with Chino, a charismatic farmer from Chile who grew blueberries and produced honey. He asserted that the Fair Trade movement should be nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. His reasoning being that, instead of putting things right after a conflict, Fair Trade creates an environment where peace can thrive.  People are given purpose, a decent standard of living and security, and these things go a long way to remove the need for violence.

Recently the question that is more often in my head is ‘What are the consequences of not buying Fair Trade?’ How is the world changed when we look for cheap products and those made from non sustainable materials? How many of the things we buy  have been made using exploited labour,  have messed with people’s physical and mental health  and our planet’s future?

It becomes clearer to me each day that injustice in world trade and chasing profits at the expense of humanity are the things that need to change.

The parliamentarian Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

This Fairtrade Fortnight we can all do something and participate in changing the world by buying Fairtrade products - especially supporting 100% Fair Trade organisations like Traidcraft, Divine or Cafedirect  which  go the extra mile, investing their profits back into small holder farmers and producers in the developing world. 

And remember Fair Trade is for life – not just for Fairtrade Fortnight!

Image: Young Activist Leading the Way on Homelessness


Jack Cairney is a pupil at St Peter the Apostle Secondary School and writes this week's blog.  Jack is another inspirational young person taking the lead in his community and determined to make tangible improvements in the lives of those less fortunate.

A year ago in school I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer in the east end of Glasgow with my peers and my teacher Mr Sangster, to help at the Bellgrove Hotel (a homeless shelter) and at a Salvation Army hostel, assisting the Sisters of the Mother Teresa missionaries to offer aid to the homeless who are taking shelter there.

I had no idea what it was going to be like. However, upon arrival, I soon realised that it was nothing like I had imagined.  I was given a bag of toiletries to hand around to the men who were staying there. This was real eyeopener for me personally, as it showed me the true extent of these people’s hardships and deprivation, and that something as simple to you and me, such as toothpaste was almost a luxury for these poor men. As much as they greatly appreciated the donations we gave them, almost all of them come down from their rooms just to have a conversation with another person. Getting the chance to speak and to know to these men is a truly humbling experience and made me appreciate everything that I have. Each man has a completely different story from the next, from people struggling with addiction to people who’ve just fallen on hard times, you name it.

My teacher organises a bi-weekly visit and ever since that first opportunity, I’ve made sure to go to the hostel each Saturday, as I believe it is the utmost important thing in life to give back to the community by helping those less fortunate.

When we visited the hostels, all the donations came from either teachers and pupils, parishioners of St Euanan’s and from the Sisters of the Mother Teresa Missionaries. Although we were taking a variety of donations with us, I couldn’t help but feel that we needed more. So I thought I’d show a little initiative and thus decided to run an appeal during the season of Advent in St Mary’s, Duntocher. 

With a little inspiration, I had the idea to have a Christmas “giving” tree at the back of the church with the decorations being Christmas labels attached with a desired item on it, where the parishioners could take one and hopefully bring said item to be collected at the church. This was just a form of symbolism for the parishioners.

In order to raise awareness for my appeal and generate some buzz, I attended each of the Masses on the first Sunday of Advent and gave a short speech explaining what the appeal was all about. The sheer level of support blew any preconceptions out of the water. On the first day the appeal was announced, we received a cash donation of £75. By the end of the two-week period, we had amassed an incomprehensible amount of donations ranging from hats, socks, gloves, scarves, jumpers, t-shirts, chocolate bars, biscuits, toiletries and a further £50 in cash.

I have to say that the parishioners of St Marys’, Duntocher, are a credit not just to the community, but to society. The generosity expressed by the parishioners will go a long way towards bettering the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. I intend to continue running this appeal for many advent seasons to come. Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.

Image: The Give Me Five Campaign

by Emaan Basat - Caritas Sudent

Emaan Basat is a pupil at Notre Dame secondary school in Glasgow and for this week's Justice and Peace Scotland blog Emaan shares the report she wrote for her Caritas Award class evaluating her participation in the Give Me Five Campaign.

In school I have taken up a project promoting awareness of the Justice and Peace Scotland ‘Give Me Five’ Campaign which was created to alleviate child poverty.

This project was quite close to my heart as my family is not well off and we often used to struggle for simple things. My mum struggled to make ends meet which made me even more passionate about this issue. I began teaching classes with a PowerPoint I had produced and tried my hardest to keep the message sincere. The message being that through our many privileges we must try to help those who don’t have many.

We were lucky enough to have someone from Justice and Peace Scotland (Dorothy McLean) to come in and help with child poverty workshops that I organised for the whole of first year, with help from the Caritas class to implement them. The workshops not only raised awareness but made me realise that you do not need to move mountains to prove your love for a cause, you just need to work hard to awaken that love in others, which is precisely what Caritas made me do. I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to promote a social issue so close to my heart with Justice and Peace Scotland and this journey will forever be memorable to me throughout my life.

I have learnt that you don’t need to be well known or older to make an impact – a little can really go a long way. As long as there is passion to pursue something it can always be achieved. I would tell everyone to take the leap and campaign for what you believe in because it will change your life for the better.
Emaan Basat (Caritas 2018)

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