The South West Fair Trade Business Awards are officially open for applications with Bristol’s own Bake Off star, Briony Williams, set to host the ceremony in May. Danni Rochman – coordinator of Bristol Fair Trade who organise the awards each year – reveals what’s in store this year and tells us how Fair Trade is playing a part in Bristol’s Gold Sustainable Food City bid.
We were so excited when Briony fromThe Great British Bake Off agreed to host the South West Fair Trade Business Awards (SWFTBAs) this year. Bake Off is the only bit of reality telly I still do, so I already had a soft spot, but I think the programme is so good natured that its stars make great spokespeople for causes such as Fair Trade. Social causes are best conveyed by people who are relatable, and Briony is definitely that!
The SWFTBAs began eight years ago – they were the idea of my predecessor at Bristol Fair Trade, Jenny Foster. She’d seen how organisations have huge potential to support Fair Trade supply chains, and to get the word out about Fair Trade issues to their staff and customers. The awards are designed to celebrate those businesses that are advocating for Fair Trade, rewarding them for good practice, and hopefully inspiring and incentivising others to do the same.
The best thing about the awards is how inclusive they are. We don’t charge organisations to enter, meaning that they’re as accessible to tiny businesses and non-profits as they are to big organisations. We also try and cater for as many types of organisation as possible across our ten categories, recognising that Fair Trade is something that every organisation can be part of. We get a huge array of entries – from cafés using Fair Trade ingredients and selling Fair Trade products to their customers, to solicitors who promote Fair Trade campaigns across their networks and make sure their staff room is kitted out with Fair Trade drinks. This year we’ve created new categories for caterers, manufacturers and visitor attractions.
The ceremony in May is shaping up to be a proper celebration. As well as Briony at the helm, Tony’s Chocolonely will be speaking about how they’re working to make slave-free chocolate the norm in the cocoa industry. Guests will get ample opportunity to try their wares, not least as part of the afternoon tea-style lunch. Papadeli are catering the awards – they’re a brilliant example of how Fair Trade and local can go hand in hand, making use of Fair Trade ingredients and equipment where they can, and championing locally sourced produce throughout the menu. It’s great to be able to support local organisations as part of the Awards.
It’s that connection between fair and local that makes Bristol Going for Gold a perfect fit for Bristol Fair Trade and the SWFTBAs. Whether you’re buying a bag of kale that’s grown just a few miles from the city, or a bar of chocolate full of ingredients grown all over the world, the important thing is transparency – knowing who has produced your food, how they’ve produced it and that they’ve been paid and treated fairly. Fair Trade and local trade are both an important part of what makes a good food system for Bristol, and so we’re really proud that the SWFTBAs are recognised as an action that organisations can take to show their support of Bristol Going for Gold.
Hopefully the connection will create a bit of cross pollination between Fair Traders and people in the local food scene. We’re hoping to see lots of new faces at the awards who might not have thought about how they can promote their support of Fair Trade, and of course we’ll be there to reward them with a slice of Fair Trade cake!
Applications for the South West Fair Trade Business Awards are open until Friday 3rd April. You can log your entry to the awards as an action for organisations on the Bristol Going for Gold website. If your organisation is yet to start their Going for Gold journey, it only takes a minute to register here. Individuals can also log the action to buy Fair Trade certified products for Going for Gold.