We need to pull together

Mary Milne from Traidcraft Exchange reflects on the news from Traidcraft plc

Yesterday, many Traidcraft supporters received an email from Robin Roth, our CEO, in which he explained that because of poor trading results, Traidcraft plc is currently consulting on a proposal to cease trading at the end of this year.

It’s devastating news that we at Traidcraft Exchange, Traidcraft’s sister charity, heard with heavy hearts.

We were founded by Traidcraft, we share their values and work very closely with them. In fact, it’s only in the last couple of years that we have deliberately separated out our communications as two organisations, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that we were one and the same.

If you didn’t get Robin’s email, you can read more about the background here.

I wanted to write this blog to explain what this means for us at Traidcraft Exchange, and what we can do together to go on working for a world where all trade is fair.

Is Traidcraft Exchange affected? Well, no… and yes.

No – because we are a separate organisation, and we have our own job to do. We’re not going to stop campaigning for a world where all trade is fair, nor are we going to give up supporting people in poverty to come together and get a better deal from trade. In fact, we’re hopeful that we may be well-positioned to offer support to some of the producers who could be particularly badly affected if Traidcraft does have to cease trading.

But in the future the answer could also be yes.

A significant proportion of our voluntary income (that’s the money we raise from the public) comes from the activities of the wonderful Fair Traders who buy and sell fair trade goods from Traidcraft plc. And if those people pack up their stalls and wave good bye to Traidcraft Exchange as well, we could be in real trouble.

Traidcraft Exchange was originally set up in the 1980’s by Fair Traders who wanted to make even more difference by giving their end of year surpluses away. We rely on those donations – and everything else that Traidcraft customers give us, from a top-up donation on an order to events like Big Brews, supporting and sharing our campaigns and much more.

We get income from some big institutions and donors which funds a lot of the programmes we run – but this always comes with restrictions and strings about how it’s spent. It’s the support we get from the public that provides us with the flexibility and backing we need to be independent and outspoken, to invest in new projects, to campaign and speak out and make a difference.

So although we are feeling devastated right now, we know there is a need to pull together, to stay hopeful and to keep focusing on what we need to do change trade for the better.

We really hope you will join us.

What help does Traidcraft Exchange need right now?

We all want Traidcraft plc to have a really successful autumn season - have a look at their great range of products.

Here are some other things you can help us with now.

1. Please stay in touch. A really easy way to stay in touch is to sign up to our emails (if you don’t get them already). Sign up today

2. Consider a regular donation to Traidcraft Exchange. A committed gift of £10 a month helps us to plan ahead. People who give regularly really do help us shape and build our future by giving us a sustainable income source to rely on. Donate now.

3. Keep supporting our campaigning work. We’ve got plans for some exciting events later this autumn with speakers coming from Assam to talk to us first hand about the reality of life for the people who pick our tea. Come and join us.

Thank you for everything you do.

Mary Milne is the Head of Communications at Traidcraft Exchange.

J McNaughton