On Wednesday 14th November Fair Trade supporters took part in the International Festival of Fair Trade Walks by walking from Galgate to Lancaster. Walkers included supporters of The FIG Tree, Fair Trade centre as well as the Lancaster, Clitheroe and Garstang Fairtrade Town Groups. Setting off from The Silk Mill Café in Galgate and suitably refreshed with Fairtrade tea and coffee, they followed the canal to Lancaster. ‘Cotton’ was the theme of the walk. Lancaster once had several mills alongside the canal that sourced their cotton from the Americas often as part of the notorious transatlantic slavery trade. The local Lancaster economy benefitted from this exploitation.
The walk passed the sites of many of these old mills and local historian, Melinda Elder, informed the group on many aspects of their past. Voluntary FIG Tree Director, Graham Hulme said, “Much of the cotton used to make our clothes today is produced using labour forces that are poorly paid, mistreated and/or underage. The result is that these hard-working people live in poverty whist better off people enjoy the fruits of their labour. History continues to repeat itself! Fair Trade is one way that this issue is being addressed as it ensures workers in disadvantaged countries get a living wage from the production of Fair Trade cotton and other products.” The group finished their walk with lunch at The Whale Tale Cafe in Lancaster.