This month, we want to welcome our latest member of staff and new Head of Fair Trade Wales, Sarah Stone – croeso! Get to know Sarah…
Who are you, and what is your background before Fair Trade Wales?
I’ve worked in the third sector for most of my career. My first involvement was as a volunteer at a Cardiff community centre and my early experiences showed me the huge asset that community action is, and the power of information and practical support for people in times of need. Most recently I worked for Samaritans, a charity made up mainly of volunteers, with a strong local presence in communities across Wales, the rest of the UK and Ireland. Samaritans is an example of an idea, in this case about the importance of listening and empathy, inspiring people to come together, give their time and form a movement of lasting value.
I love writing and have just spent a year studying creative writing at Bath Spa University. I believe that story telling in all its many forms is a way of making sense of the world, understanding other points of view and has a contribution to make to campaigning on social justice.
Why is Fairtrade important to you?
I have been aware of the work of Fairtrade for a long time and see it as showing what is possible, through connecting producers with consumers to the benefit of both. It is a beacon for fairness and a demonstration that addressing exploitation is practical and commercially viable. I am so delighted to have an opportunity, in covering for Aileen’s secondment, to be a part of the Fair Trade movement. It contributes to the positive and practical vision which we need in Wales, and globally, to address climate change, lack of sustainability and inequality. We need to tackle these issues with urgency in making a future possible for the next generations, and the actions of individuals, added together and coordinated, have such a central part to play.
What are your visions for the future of Fairtrade in Wales?
It is early days for me, but I am so impressed by the diligence with which Fair Trade Wales is run, by the partnerships it is a part of and the community action it supports. My first priority is to ensure that we maintain and build on that, and I will be speaking with many people, and listening to them over the coming months. Fair Trade Wales has a strategy which sets out three priority areas, to support, grow and promote the Fair Trade movement in Wales. I want to make progress on all these areas in the coming year, increasing understanding of the Fair Trade vision as we go.
We are also very excited to launch our new Fair Trade celebration grants, to celebrate 15 years as the world’s first Fair Trade Nation. I would like to encourage as many people to apply for these, and I’m looking forward to meeting you at your local celebration event.
What is your favourite Fairtrade product?
Divine dark chocolate with fruit and nuts!