Hebden Bridge - A Fair Town

Hebden Bridge has been awarded national recognition for the way in which its people have embraced fairtrade in their shopping and eating habits.

From now on it's officially "Hebden Bridge: a Fairtrade Town", following the issue of a certificate by the Fairtrade Foundation. This is the body which awards the Fairtrade Mark, an internationally recognized label for food products showing that producers have been paid a fair price for their goods. Hebden Bridge joins the growing number of towns and cities around the country which have committed themselves to this fairer way of trading, by offering an alternative to the large multi-national suppliers which often use their buying power to exploit third world producers.

Fair TradeTo qualify for the award, the town had to show that a certain proportion of its shops and cafÈs offered fairly traded goods for sale. In Hebden Bridge, fairtrade products were already available at a few outlets, and there are now at least eight shops and cafÈs offering a wide range of fairtrade goods. The award also recognizes the number of businesses and other organizations, such as churches, using fairtrade products for their own use. This includes the Town Council, which has given its official support.

A steering group was put in place to promote and monitor the progress of the initiative. Roger Munday, the chair of the steering group, said that the town had passed the Foundation's targets by such a margin that the award had been granted at a higher level, for the wider area of a "Fairtrade Zone". The award will be officially recognised by local MP Chris McCafferty at a launch ceremony on 18th October at 11am in the foyer of the Hebden Bridge Picture House (where all tea and coffee served is now fairtrade!)

The group is about to publish a directory listing sources of fairtrade goods in the town and giving information about the project. As the Fairtrade Mark only applies to foodstuffs, it will also include retailers of some items, such as clothing and gifts, which don't bear the official mark, but which have been sourced from fairtrade suppliers.

Rachel Terry, a member of the group, said, 'Hebden Bridge seemed like an obvious place to start this sort of campaign, as it's full of people who care about global issues and about where their food comes from. The growth in organic producers and farmers' markets is a clear sign of this.' She is aware that some people may be put off by the slightly higher price of fairtrade products but says, 'a few pence more to us, which is in fact the fair price to pay, can make the difference in a developing country between whether or not you can afford to send your children to school. And fairtrade goods are now often for sale at the same price as other brands of similar quality'

Hebden Bridge is the first fairtrade community in Calderdale, and believed to be the first town in West Yorkshire to be awarded this accolade. The Hebden Bridge Fairtrade Forum can be contacted c/o Hebden Bridge Council Offices.

Thanks to the Hebden Bridge Fairtrade Forum for this item

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