Trouble’s Brewing. Southwark parishioners protest Sainsbury’s threat to Fairtrade Tea.

CAFOD supporters in Southwark have been protesting against Sainsbury’s decision to abandon the Fairtrade mark on some of its own-brand tea.

Campaigners Andy Wansbury and Josephine Simms have written to Sainsbury’s to express their disappointment with the supermarket’s decision to replace the Fairtrade mark on its Red and Gold Label teas with its own ‘fairly traded’ version.

While Fairtrade guarantees producers a fair minimum price for their goods and an additional social premium to invest in their communities, CAFOD campaigners are concerned that Sainsbury’s scheme could see tea farmers lose control of the social premium and instead have to apply to a UK-based board for the funding.

It’s estimated nearly a quarter of a million tea farmers and producers are affected.

Find out more about this campaign 

Sainsbury_s _Waterloo_ Fairtrade protest-5

CAFOD supporters are protesting against Sainsbury’s plans with protests and letter writing

Both Andy and Josephine are calling on the supermarket to reconsider this pilot scheme, and as part of their protest wrote letters to the managers of their local Sainsbury’s stores.

British tea drinkers account for three quarters of Fairtrade tea sales globally, with Sainsbury’s the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade.

The Fairtrade Foundation was founded in 1992 by a group of charities including CAFOD, Christian Aid and Oxfam, to create a market of better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for small-scale farmers. The Fairtrade Foundation estimates more than 1.65 million farmers and workers in 74 countries now get a better deal from Fairtrade.

Here in the CAFOD Southwark office, we know that buying Fairtrade tea is a proven way to make a difference every time we drink a cup of tea.  The letters written by Andy and Josephine, and the actions staged by other CAFOD Supporters all across the country shows that we’re not the only ones who care.

Sainsbury’s has been a leading retailer of Fairtrade products, making a real difference to the lives of tea farmers and their families in some of the world’s poorest countries. We, and everyone else at CAFOD, would like them to reconsider this decision to remove the Fairtrade mark from their own-brand tea.

If you’d like to get involved then find out more at: 

Help halt the eviction of a community in Sao Paulo

CAFOD supporters in Southwark diocese have recently been responding to the #ficamaua campaign, which aims to stop the eviction of more than 200 families living in an abandoned hotel in the centre of Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Add your name to the petition to stop the eviction

Not only have CAFOD supporters in Southwark diocese been busy preparing for Harvest, but they have also been getting involved with CAFOD’s latest campaign.

Once a trendy hotel, the Maua Building in the centre of Sao Paulo stood empty for 17 years until 2007, when 237 working families moved in.  They lovingly renovated the building and for the last ten years have called it home.  Whereas once the building was squalid, it is now home to a thriving community, providing a social use and revitalising an otherwise derelict area in the city centre.

Ever since they moved in the families have been trying to win the legal rights to their home, asking for the authorities to acquire the building and convert it into social housing for low income families.

Far from being a radical claim, this is a move permitted under Brazilian law, which states that all properties must fulfil a social purpose.  As such, city planning should be organised to ensure cities respond to social needs, not only financial interests.  This is especially pertinent in Sao Paulo; poor families are unable to afford market rents, yet in the city centre there are hundreds of abandoned buildings.

Maua building Sao Paulo

The Maua building, Sao Paulo

Despite what is stated in law, the families in the building face eviction on the 22nd October.  Should the eviction go ahead, almost 1,000 people, including 200 children, would be forced onto the street.  All legal routes have been exhausted and so far local authorities have provided no contingency plan.

Heluiza Soares, a coordinator from CAFOD’s São Paulo partner APOIO, said:

“We cannot stay silent when faced with such injustice, indifference to the plight of the poor, and backlash in Brazil. Housing is a right which must be guaranteed and we must stand firmly together to ensure social justice and the equitable enjoyment of the city, especially by the most vulnerable and disfavoured citizens. Having a decent home is essential to people’s dignity, safety, livelihoods and ability to thrive.”


CAFOD Southwark supporters supporting the #Ficamaua campaign

CAFOD supporters in Southwark have begun to respond to this request, signing the petition that has been launched to try and halt the eviction.  The petition asks that the Brazilian authorities suspend the eviction and negotiate a fair, long-term solution for the families living in the Maua.

Once you’ve signed the petition, we’re also asking you to show solidarity with the community by taking a picture of yourself holding a sign saying #ficamaua to share on Twitter with @CAFOD or Facebook.

Click here to find out more and to sign the petition

Campaigning on behalf of the world’s poor: CAFOD’s MP reception at Parliament

Two parishioners from Southwark, David Murray and Thomas Kimaru, have spoken with MPs in Parliament to ensure the interests of the world’s poorest people will be kept in mind during the upcoming general election.

On Monday 24 April, sixty supporters of  CAFOD travelled from across the country to meet with MPs from different political parties at Speaker’s House in Parliament. David and Thomas met with MPs to speak to the politicians about maintaining commitments to supporting people living in poverty through UK aid and action to tackle climate change.

David said: “We have to make sure that when we make trade deals, there is not a trade off with climate change. We have to make sure that the aid budget is not watered down and make sure that we are the ones holding the government in power to account.

“I have written and also spoken to my MP, Liberal Democrat Tom Brake, many times about the climate and the importance of the aid budget, both of which I believe he is in favour of protecting.”

Thomas Kimaru and Fiona

Thomas Kimaru supporting CAFOD’s campaign ‘Power to Be’

Thomas added: “I have been giving money to charity for over ten years, but I think campaigning for charities is worth so much more. Time is so precious and it is the little things you do that can make a massive difference.

“It was so great to meet with MPs tonight and speak about the effects and impacts of international aid around the world.”

Commons Speaker the Rt Hon John Bercow MP told the reception:”For my part, I always think the greatest moral challenge of our times is to try to do something about the gross crisis and disfiguring scar of global poverty.

“The fact that 1,000 million people around the world exist on less than a dollar a day and very, very, very large numbers of people besides exist on only moderately more than that is, frankly, a source not only of anxiety but of real shame to us all.”

The campaigners at the Parliamentary reception are CAFOD ‘MP Correspondents’, supporters who write to MPs on international development issues such as the impact of climate change and trade practices.

CAFOD is encouraging Catholics to ask election candidates to support UK commitments on tackling poverty overseas and climate change, as well as working to ensure that Britain remains an outward-looking and welcoming nation.

speaker of the house

Speaker of the House, John Bercow

Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy, said: “It is so great to see local constituents raising their voices before the general election and making their local political representatives aware of issues that are important to them.

“Pope Francis himself warns that people living in poverty can often be an ‘afterthought’ in political discussions and that’s why it’s so important that we remind candidates of the need to remain an outward-looking nation – one that cares for the interests of people in the world’s poorest communities.

“This is why the commitment to maintaining UK support for overseas aid is crucial for saving lives and pulling people out of poverty.”