Chocolate focus for Fairtrade Fortnight

We had two excellent events during Fairtrade Fortnight. Firstly, we were privileged to be selected by the Fairtrade Foundation as one of only 5 venues across the UK to hold a “sofa session”. It seemed particularly appropriate to hold the event in York with its long and continuing association with cocoa and chocolate. The informal panel session featured the following women:

  • Cocoa farmer Rosine Bekoin from Côte d’Ivoire (and her interpreter)
  • Rachael Maskell, York Central MP
  • Sarah Wakefield, Food Sustainability Manager, Co-op
  • Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Divine Chocolate
  • Sophie Jewett of York Cocoa House.
  • Fairtrade Foundation’s Julia Nicoara, Director of Public Engagement (chair)

The evening highlighted the inequality experienced by the women and girls behind the $1billion global chocolate industry and told inspiring stories about individuals who are against the odds becoming entrepreneurs and leaders in their local communities. We each eat on average 8.4kg of chocolate a year: Rosine helped us understand what the reality is like for the people behind our chocolate bars and how she has been supported by the Fairtrade Foundation. The other speakers gave their perspective on issues around ethical production and trading, and the people involved in the supply chain. The large and engaged audience then had chance to put their own questions (and to partake of samples of Divine chocolate).

Our second event was, like last year, a film showing at Clements Hall in association with South Bank Community Cinema. This was very successful with about 60 people coming along to see The Kite Runner, preceded by a moving, informative and inspiring talk by Joanna. She spoke about child labour on West African cocoa farms, where 1.2 million children are involved in harvesting the beans. This echoed the panel session when Rosine explained how employing and paying women properly benefits their children. Then Joanna shifted our attention to South Asia and the work of Child Rescue Nepal in conjunction with fair trade supplier Namaste in saving children from exploitation and giving them a better life.