Two major events to promote Fairtrade Fortnight in York drew in the crowds.
The Women in Fairtrade Coffee Tasting event went very well at York St John University, with plenty of passers-by enjoying a coffee sample and a bit of Fairtrade baking. A big thank you to Sue and her team at York St John for planning and hosting another interesting and varied Fairtrade Fortnight programme at the University. At the event Kathryn Tissiman of York Fairtrade City Steering Group presented the certificate of the renewal of Fairtrade City status to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of York.
SUSY event: This speaker event at the Friends’ Meeting House was very well attended. Our speakers, Veena from India and Manal from Palestine certainly held our attention; it was fascinating to hear about the challenges and rewards of Fairtrade production in two very different producer environments. Veena spoke about her research into Co-operatives working in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands – this is mainly coconut farming but also takes in all aspects of island life including education, construction and healthcare. It was good to learn more about the SUSY (Sustainable and Solidarity Economy) project too – a very encouraging and exciting new initiative supporting more sustainable trade.
However we were saddened and angered that the two women who were meant to be visiting us from Palestine – Bassema, olive farmer with Zaytoun, and her translator Lamis – were unable to come and address the meeting in person due to the last-minute Home Office refusal of their visas. We feel that the reasons given for refusal were spurious and patronizing, and the women were very shabbily treated by being given no opportunity to resubmit their applications. Despite the fact that the decision to refuse them was made more than a month before their travel dates, the women were not told until a couple of days beforehand, and their attempts to get information in time were constantly thwarted. This is not the first example of Palestinians finding it extremely difficult to travel to the UK for trading purposes. Here is the link to Zaytoun’s website for ways you can protest about this decision: http://www.zaytoun.org/news. php and see below for an email/letter text you can adapt and send to your MP and to the Minister for Immigration.