Businesses are being encouraged to lend support to the Fairtrade movement and make a difference to communities growing basic commodities like coffee, tea and sugar.
The call for support comes at the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, a national initiative, that will include backing for the ongoing work under way in Birmingham, a leading city in the campaign. Birmingham City Council has been a long-running supporter of the campaign and employs a sustainability team that focuses on different issues including Fairtrade.
Senior sustainability officer Lorraine Cookson hopes more businesses in Birmingham will want to get involved and see how simply changing coffee and tea drinking habits can be effective.
She said: "We really do hope more businesses will want to get involved but, to be honest, I just think they don't feel it is important. If they look at how they can support Fairtrade then they will see this is how to support sustainable projects."
Victoria Square will be the focus of one major event next Thursday, March 6, when there will be a coming together of the different initiatives going on across Birmingham. The Fairtrade Foundation is co-ordinating the celebration throughout the day that will include live music, games, Fairtrade market stalls and an information bus.
Lorraine works closely with the Fairtrade Birmingham Association and its chair Alastair Gibbons believes this is an opportunity for individuals to see how they can get involved.
He said: "Across Birmingham there is a huge variety of fairtrade products available in shops and cafes but many people have yet to try them. We urge people to come to Victoria Square to see what's on offer and to find out how fairtrade makes a difference." Lorraine hopes it may motivate business people to want to find out more.
"Switching coffee, tea and sugar to a Fairtrade product is one of the easiest steps but for some reason businesses don't seem to take the message on board," says Lorraine. "We hope we can raise awareness and this message will filter through to business people who can invite us in to talk about the different ways of getting involved.
"Everyone of us use coffee, tea and sugar - it is a basic commodity and by using Fairtrade products people will know that it is having an impact on communities."
The Fairtrade campaign through its work with charities like Oxfam is able to make regular contributions to communities that produce approved commodities. These donations enable villages to develop facilities including basics like water pumps and enable farmers to stop being so reliant in fluctuations in the stock markets and weather conditions.
Across Birmingham there are a wide range of groups and organisations already supporting Fairtrade.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) there will be an informal event to celebrate the fortnight at the Guild Hall, Aston University.
Between noon and 2pm visitors can browse stalls selling different Fairtrade goods.
The University of Birmingham, which is a fair trade university, is hosting various events throughout the fortnight, including a fair-trade wine tasting evening, a band night, a themed evening and celebrations linked to the opening of a new fair trade shop at the university.
* For more details about the Fairtrade work in Birmingham go to www.fairtradebirmingham.org. Businesses who want to find out more can contact Lorraine direct on 0121 303 5449.