The work of several groups of students at Croydon College has been recognised in the Croydon Eco-citizen awards 2009. The award, for “Best Environmental Message/ Campaign” was made to Croydon Fairtrade Network.
Christopher Hunt, who received the award from Deputy Mayor Russell Jackson in a ceremony at Croydon Clocktower on Wednesday 14th October, explained, “we ran a very ambitious campaign during Fairtrade Fortnight this year, and the hard work of students at Croydon College was a major contributing factor to its success.”
Highlight of the campaign was a visit to Croydon by two Ghanaian cocoa farmers. They are members of the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative who grow and sell cocoa on Fairtrade terms to Divine Chocolate (which they also own 45% of) and Cadbury, and cocoa-butter to the Body Shop.
The farmers had a very busy day, addressing local environmentally-minded business people at a “Business breakfast” organised by “Envibe”, the Council’s Environment in Business group. The breakfast – using Fairtrade ingredients as far as possible – was prepared and served by students from the Hospitality and Catering courses, part of the Skills and Enterprise College.
This was an excellent opportunity for the students to showcase their talents to local employers – including managers from Jurys Inns who even indicated that they would be interested in using the College as a venue for meetings. The farmers then spoke to all the vocational and A-Level business students in a lecture theatre at Croydon College, before making the short trip to Trinity School where, after lunch, they spoke to two groups of students.
Next stop was a well-deserved meal at the Gold Coast pub in South Norwood, with leading members of the Ghanaian community resident in South London, before they made a flying visit to the Mayor of Croydon, and finished their day with a service at Bible Life Ministries Church in Windmill Road.
“The IT students used their skills in word processing and spreadsheets to produce invitation letters to all the churches and faith groups in Croydon, inviting them to the celebration of Fairtrade. The group included students from most parts of the world, including Uganda, Sri Lanka, and Aghanistan. Most of them were able to find Fairtrade products grown in their region, if not their country”.
As well as producing the letters, they performed a mail-out. “We worked closely with the Environment & Sustainability Team at Croydon Council. The council agreed to pay postage if we included some information about other environmental projects, e.g. home insulation discounts. The students were organised in production lines, gathering together all the components of the mailout, including the letters they had produced, then putting them into envelopes and putting on the labels. It was a very realistic introduction to the world of work”, said Christopher, who is a lecturer in vocational Business & IT at Croydon College.
The second major strand to the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign in 2009 was the banana eating challenge. Over 450 students ate a Fairtrade banana, distributed by another group of IT students who collected a small donation for each banana and raised £46 for promoting Fairtrade. Altogether, the Network recorded over 2,020 Croydon citizens who ate a banana during the 24 hours of the challenge.
“This was a magnificent achievement, contributing to the national total of over 400,000 bananas”, said Christopher. “Our next aim is to make Croydon College a Fairtrade College. Trinity School and a couple of primary schools are also working towards Fairtrade status, so there really is a bit of a challenge to see who will be the first Fairtrade school in Croydon – though, in the spirit of co-operation, we all seek to work together. It is the farmers who will benefit after all”.
Planning to make next year’s Fairtrade Fortnight even better is already starting. The steering group of the network is meeting on Thursday 22nd October, 8pm at Croydon Town Hall. “We are particularly looking for somebody who can take on the role of communicating with the press to publicize Fairtrade activities in Croydon”.