The Fairtrade Foundation breaks new ground today by launching an innovative digital campaign that sees 8,000 paper characters march on Parliament. Fairtrade Foundation Press Officer, Donna Simpson, explains why this is no run-of-the-mill petition.
It’s 7am and I am standing on a patch of grass on Parliament Square directly outside the Houses of Parliament with celebrities Jonathan Ross, Tulisa, Hugh Bonneville, Harry Hill, Tinchy Stryder, Eddie Izzard, Amanda Holden, Dermot O’Leary and a host of other well known names.
I should add here that the celebrities are all mini three-inch versions of themselves. But the real celebrities have signed an online petition calling for a fairer deal for small farmers, along with thousands of campaigners up and down the UK. Every digital signature has been transformed into a personalised mini character, courtesy of start-up company Foldable.Me, to represent these Fairtrade supporters who have signed the petition and create the first ever paper march on Parliament.
The digital campaign is a partnership between creative agency Karmarama and the Fairtrade Foundation. The aim was to find an interesting new way to petition parliament and creating a mini march representing all the people who are supporting the campaign is an innovative and powerful way to make a statement to David Cameron to go further for small farmers.
Fairtrade is already working in many places around the world but needs a greater international commitment to help empower the people that help put food on our plates. It is hoped that today’s march will urge the government to raise the issue at the upcoming G8 summit. A physical version of the petition will be presented to Number 10 Downing Street ahead of World Fair Trade Day (11 May).
Last week the Fairtrade Foundation launched a hard hitting report, Powering Up Smallholder Farmers to Make Food Fair, that highlights the pivotal role of small farmers in world agriculture. Around 70 per cent of the world’s food is grown by small farmers, most of them women. And yet these farmers do not have enough say in their working conditions or the supply chains they underpin. They have been neglected for far too long and it is hoped today’s march will bring their cause to light.
The Fairtrade Foundation is calling on the government to implement a five point agenda for action to address their needs.
Cheryl McGechie, Director of Public Engagement, Fairtrade Foundation, says ‘This Fortnight we wanted to do something a bit different. Our march on Parliament is an engaging way for everyone to go further to help smallholder farmers combat unfair trade practices.’
We still need you to sign the online petition at www.fairtrade.org.uk/jointhemarch. Although it’s too late to join the start of the march at Parliament Square, you can still create a mini version of yourself to join the virtual march online ahead of the hand-in to Downing Street.