Magazine Article – Fair Trade at St Marys

St Mary’s Church has promoted Fair Trade for many years, primarily by offering specifically ‘Traidcraft’ grocery and seasonal goods for sale after selected Sunday morning services and at certain events at the church.

Taking over from her predecessor, for a long while Catherine Burchell brought such goods from the ‘New Roots’ shop on Glossop Road, on a sale and return basis. When the shop closed, it was decided to continue offering ‘Traidcraft’ merchandise by setting up an account directly with them and for over 3 years now I have sold ‘Traidcraft’ products on behalf of the church.

But what is ‘Fair Trade’? In simple terms, fair trade benefits producers in a number of ways; it guarantees: –

1. Farmers a fair and stable price for their products.
2. Extra income for farmers and estate workers to improve their lives and communities.
3. A greater respect for the environment.
4. Small farmers a stronger position in world markets.
5. A closer link between consumers and producers.
6. Decent working conditions and no exploitative labour.

Along with quarterly catalogues, I receive quarterly ‘Traidcraft’ magazines and monthly bulletins. These regularly include stories illustrating the benefits realised by producers in those third world countries with which ‘Traidcraft’ has established links. ‘Traidcraft’s’ strategy is to maximise its impact in those particular countries with which it works and in practical terms this also means that ‘Traidcraft’ cannot spread itself too thinly (unlike the ‘Sweet Justice’ ‘Traidcraft’ honey that you might spread on your morning toast!)

Here is just one example of the many real-life stories given to us: –
Mwathi Musyoka and her family are from Kenya. Mwathi took part in ‘Traidcraft’s’ Flourishing in Vulnerable Environments (FIVE) programme. She joined the programme to improve her farming technique and knowledge. Previously she was only able to sell one bag of maize for 1250 ksh. Her land had a lot of erosion leading to low production. Since receiving training on soil conservation her production has improved and now sells two bags of maize and two bags of cow peas thus earning 6100 ksh and also grows beans, greens grams, sorghum and pigeon peas. Mwathi sends her children to school but had incurred a debt to the school of 24,000 ksh and her children used to miss entire terms. With her increased income, she is starting to pay off her debt and doesn’t have to buy a lot of food from the market. Because of the poor harvests previously experienced, some days the family had no food. Now the family eats every day, three times a day. Mwathi is now passing on to other growers what she has learned about soil conservation.

‘Traidcraft’ products are often more expensive than their nearest high street non-fair traded equivalent. The reason is explained by the previously-listed, and other, factors and is evidenced by stories like that of Mwathi. The more fair trade products that are sold the more ‘Traidcraft’ can work with families like Mwathi’s to help them grow more, earn more and eat more.
Unfortunately, St Mary’s cannot operate on a sale and return basis. If products do not sell, St Mary’s makes a loss and I am forced to withdraw such products from the range sold at church. Regular supporters of ‘Traidcraft’ at church will have noticed this decline. If you would like me to source other products not currently sold, please let me know and if you don’t currently make purchases, please think about doing so and the benefits this is likely to bring, such as that experienced by Mwathi.

Geoff Vause

Magazine Article – Friends of Walkley Cemetery

Our AGM will be on Friday 23 June this year. This is always a great opportunity to get a good idea of the whole range of activities under-taken by the Friends. Hugh Waterhouse will be giving a talk in the first half of the meeting followed by the AGM business after a break.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission sign has now been affixed to the gatepost at the cemetery entrance.  It looks good and helps to advertise the presence of war graves on our site.

We have several events that are part of Walkley Festival – please consult the Festival programme for details.  One new venture will be the Big Draw on Saturday 1st July.

The Bracken Bash is this month. This helps keep the bracken under control and prevents it spreading.

Do join us for any event. No experience necessary!


Forthcoming events in the cemetery 

AGM:  FRIDAY 23 June 7.30, St Mary’s Community Hall (Refreshments available before and during meeting)

WORKDAY: Bracken Bash THURSDAY 22 June 2-4pm

TOURS:  SUNDAY 2 July (Walkley Festival Tours)

                    2pm and 4pm

FESTIVAL EVENT:  SATURDAY 1 July  Big Draw 12-4pm


Magazine Article – Manifestations

Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.  This fifth commandment was issued to the Israelites during their exodus and search for their promised land.

As the build up to the forthcoming general election gains momentum, I’ve been reading the manifestos of our political parties with more than a passing interest.  I’ve also followed the arguments and debates that have raged about how the costs of each party’s proposals might be met.  Have they all forgotten that Brexiteers promised us savings of £350 million per week?  Won’t that go a long way to re-nationalising the railways, improving our schools and health services?  Having prevailed on 23 June 2016, where are Messrs Farage and Johnson when you need them?

What all the parties seem to agree on, however, is that it’s going to cost one heck of a lot to provide for the UK’s ageing population.  Without really noticing it ‘til now, I’ve become one of ‘em; the pensioners that they have in their sights.  Old age has snuck up on me, making this the second election at which I’ve been a pensioner.  And, I don’t really get a warm feeling from what I’m reading.  Looks as if my triple-lock and winter fuel allowance might go, but thankfully there’s been no mentions (yet) of any threat to my free travel pass.

How we provide for people in their old age, of course, affects all of us.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve been arguing against the rising charges raised by the care home in which my mother resides.  I’m under no illusions about how much getting old can cost.  But it’s important that we, as a nation, enable people to live with dignity, whatever their needs.  This is a huge challenge for all political parties that will require consensus.  And its starting point should be the fifth commandment, Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.  Only by honouring, in every sense, those older than us will we have any chance of success.

Irving Smith


Magazine Article – Christian Aid May Day Trek

For many years now, Helen and I, accompanied for a time by our son, have participated in the Christian Aid May Day Trek held each year, strangely enough, on May Day!

Each trek takes the participant into the beautiful countryside surrounding Sheffield and, until recently, there has been the choice to do 5, 10 or 15 mile routes. When our son was young we opted for the five-mile route but as our son got older we progressed to 10 miles and then to 15 miles. We have experienced all the weathers that you could imagine but have always completed the walk and over the years I guess we must have each individually walked in excess of 200 miles.

Although we do not have any record as to the amount that we have raised over the years for Christian Aid through our efforts, the total undoubtedly runs into several thousands of pounds, in no small part thanks to the generous sponsorship of our friends here at St Mary’s for which we remain extremely grateful.

Unfortunately, during our time participating in the May Day Trek, the numbers taking part has declined and consequently the total amount raised through the Trek and its sibling Night Hike has also reduced but nevertheless the total raised still runs to well over £10,000 per year.

We have registered to do the Trek again this year and on this occasion, we intend to attempt an 11-mile option. We hope it will be as enjoyable an experience as it usually is and that the weather will be kinder than last year when we were subjected to and soaked by a heavy prolonged rain shower whilst walking along the exposed top of Stanage Edge!

All the money raised by this event goes towards the work of either Christian Aid or that of CAFOD, its Catholic-equivalent charity. The promotional material accompanying this year’s May Day Trek information focuses on the plight of the tens of millions of refugees around the world fleeing conflict and disaster in search of safety.

A quick scan of the material on the Christian Aid website reveals the long list of emergencies and disasters that the charity is seeking to alleviate, several of which will be familiar to you from some while ago as those affected by disasters continue life’s struggle to survive amidst ever challenging circumstances. These include the Nepal earthquakes, the aftermath of hurricane Matthew in Haiti, refugees from crises and conflicts in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Nigeria, etc., etc.

As I am sure you have become aware recently via your television screens, we now learn of the plight of many millions of people in the East African countries of South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia faced with starvation brought about by severe drought and/or by devastating conflict. The pain and suffering being experienced by so many is practically unimaginable to us but the need is manifestly portrayed by the images we see in the media. Christian Aid’s current East Africa Crisis Appeal is part of a national appeal by members of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and St Mary’s is seeking your donations to this. The UK government will match fund the first £5m donated by the public to this appeal.

Unfortunately, the trials and tribulations of so many from the poorest countries of our world will continue long after the current crises and disasters fade from our memories and the need for humanitarian support will be ever present.

Geoff Vause