Community has fair chance for special status

A CAMPAIGN group is confident that Ponteland will soon be called a Fairtrade Town.

Community groups and institutions, along with the Town Council, are all supporting the movement which helps farmers and other food producing workers in the developing world.

And now the Ponteland Fairtrade Steering Group is almost ready to submit a bid to the Fairtrade Foundation for the specialist status.

Chairman Steve Helm said the four churches in the town — St Mary’s Parish Church, Ponteland Methodist Church and St Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church all in Ponteland Village and the Ponteland United Reformed Church in Darras Hall — have backed Fairtrade for a long time and 18 months ago Ponteland Town Council formally declared its support.

“Many of Ponteland’s community groups such as the U3A, Photographic Society and the Girls’ Brigade are on board,” he added.

“The schools have also been very supportive, with Richard Coates Middle School itself working towards getting Fairtrade School status and Ponteland High School running very successful Fairtrade tuck shops during last year’s Fairtrade Fortnight.

“I’ve been visiting supermarkets and food shops to get a list of the Fairtrade goods they sell and asking them to put up posters to support the latest fortnight, and we’re also trying to get more catering outlets selling the products.

“Dobbies and the Deli at Darras are doing so and we’ve had encouraging talks with the Diamond Inn about it selling Fairtrade coffee and tea.

“If we get a couple more on board then we will apply for the status, as we are confident that we meet all the criteria.”

Fairtrade goods are purchased from food producers at sustainable prices, which must never fall lower than the market price.

There will be ‘Big Brew’ coffee mornings at Ponteland’s churches to mark this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from February 28 to March 13. Schools will also be holding assemblies and other events.

For more information, telephone Mr Helm on 01661 824109 or e-mail s.helm@virgin.net