We have just had the pleasure of teaming up again with Robin Sharpe, one of our wonderful Fairtrade Cotton Ambassadors, during the “Go Global” Schools Conference at The Lakes School, Windermere, Cumbria.
Robin has been the epitome of the word “Ambassador” for Fairtrade cotton and Fairtrade education since Andy at Koolskools first spoke to him on 16 October 2015 about the Koolskools project. Robin immediately appreciated what we were trying to achieve with our project. Robin not only grasped the Fairtrade business dimension of Koolskools but also the wider Fairtrade education benefits. As a result of Robin’s initial conversations within The Lakes School – a Fair Achiever award-winning school – an order for Fairtrade polos quickly materialised for Koolskools Fairtrade polos for a school trip to Germany for the summer of 2016.
On the Fairtrade education front, Robin organised our very first visit to The Lakes during Fairtrade Fortnight 2016, when Pamela Intelligent, a seamstress from our Fairtrade-licensed factory, visited the school together with Mike of Koolskools. Pamela talked to the Assembly about her life in sweatshop factories before she found our Fairtrade-licensed factory in 2013, describing the contrast in terms of better pay, working conditions and working hours.
Robin and Koolskools have kept in touch since that first visit, when Robin also introduced us to other schools in the Lake District. Whilst those schools have not yet made progress on introducing Fairtrade uniform, we had another bite at trying to engage with Lake District Schools, again on Robin’s initiative, when we ran work-shops for the schools that attended the “Go Global” conference at the school on 16 June 2017. In the run-up to that Conference the Senior Leadership team at Penny Bridge (Primary) Academy were inspired to order Fairtrade Leavers’ hoodies, so we are now very hopeful that other schools in the area will finally take their lead and embrace Fairtrade cotton, either by switching to Fairtrade uniform or by offering their students and parents a Fairtrade choice.
The future looks bright for Koolskools and our Fairtrade cotton farmers and factory workers in The Lake District, thanks to Robin Sharpe. During the first week of October 2017 we shall be very excited to welcome to the UK the Managing Director of our Fairtrade-licensed factory in Mauritius, Mr Viswaraj Maghoo. Viswaraj will be with us for a week visiting schools in Wales, England and Scotland when with the help
of host Fairtrade-friendly schools we will be running short seminars where students will learn about the inequalities and challenges in the global clothing industry, and attendees will have the opportunity to meet Viswaraj. Viswaraj will share his story and describe his life-changing experiences from working in a sweatshop to being employed by a Fairtrade-licensed Factory, and of course one of those seminars will be held at The Lakes School, with delegations from neighbouring schools in attendance too.
Koolskools would like to put on record our sincere thanks to Robin Sharpe and his very supportive Headteacher, Andy Cunningham, for creating the right sort of environment for Fairtrade to flourish, not only in their own school, but in the wider Lake District schools community.