Sunday, 23 December 2012

Response to Fairtrade Teabags

A week or so ago I had a discussion with a couple of friends on twitter about Fairtrade and how Sainsbury's were able to sell teabags at their local store in Coundon for 27p and call them Fairtrade. I contacted Sainsbury's and Fairtrade, here are their responses which were received via email.


Dear Mr Mitchell

Thanks for your email and patience whilst we looked into your query further regarding the pricing of our Fairtrade tea bags.

As mentioned with my colleague Kevin, we contacted the relevant team who has advised
we are absolutely focused on providing Fairtrade to our customers for free. So where Fairtrade is the only own-brand option in our stores, as is the case with bananas, we make sure that our prices remain on a par with those of our non-Fairtrade competitors. This encourages customers to continue to shop with us and to continue to buy Fairtrade.Our tea bags may be cheaper than other retailers however; we still pay the fair-trade premium.
Sainsbury's has become the world's largest retailer of Fairtrade products. Almost one in every four pounds spent on Fairtrade in the UK is spent at a Sainsbury's store, and the supermarket's annual Fairtrade sales have increased by around 10 percent on this time last year, up to £218m.Please have a look on to our cooperate website were you will learn lots more about the work we do.I hope this information is useful, however If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to help. We take all our customer feedback seriously as this allows us to constantly improve our products and services.

Fairtrade Foundation

Dear Andy,
Thank you for your enquiry regarding the pricing of Fairtrade products.
As I am sure you are aware the FAIRTRADE Mark is an independent product certification label which guarantees that disadvantaged farmers in the developing world at the very bottom of the supply chain, are getting a better deal - recognising that they are at the sharp end of exploitation and injustice in international trade. Fairtrade works to ensure these farmers are receiving a fair and stable Fairtrade price and Fairtrade premium.
We are not, however in a position to dictate the retail pricing policy of any company in the UK market. A higher price for the producers of raw materials doesn’t necessarily result in a higher retail price. This depends very much on the company’s retail strategy. In other words the final price of a product is not a reflection on how fairly the product has been produced. I am sure you can think of plenty of examples where conventional ‘non-Fairtrade’ products are traded at extortionate prices yet are still produced on exploitative terms.
Often companies see it as advantageous not to increase the relative price of Fairtrade products. A good example of this is when Sainsbury’s switched to 100% Fairtrade bananas, they did so without raising the retail price, instead they chose to absorb the cost themselves.
We are always keen to hear the views of our supporters, please get back to me if you have any further questions.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Stoptober: Breaking the habit of a life

I was prompted to write this blog post because it's NHS Stoptober. Where smokers all over the UK come together during October to become smoke free for one month. This event reminded me about the positive side of being smoke free and how easily we fall into habits, without realising they become part of our lives. This post is not about me being a reformed smoker and getting all self-righteous because I remember too many times, all my failed attempts at stopping. It's actually more of an account of how easily in life we can slip into habits of behaviour that we think we are in complete control of, when we turn our back, suddenly that habit becomes a way of life.
I started smoking at Uni, something a lot of people did, well at least the people I hung around with. Smoking came with coffee and a chat or a beer depending on the time of day. Without even realising, the move from a 5 a day man to 10 a day and then 20 was made with ease. Something that I appeared to be in control of, moved into being a major religion in my life. 
There was always something about going to a stressful meeting at work and then ending up in the smoke room to relax. Well that was my thinking at the time. The scary thing was that the damage to my body was never considered. Even with the government health warning that death was inevitable didn't scare me.  I decided to stop for the first time pretty much straight away. This was very difficult especially when every cell in my body cried out "cigarette". At the time, people seemed more friendly in the smoke room at work and I had to say goodbye to all of my smoking buddies. So I moved to the room where "no-one talked" (sounds crazy now). Unfortunately the cravings were too hard for me to handle, so I started smoking again.
Life threw out more stressful situations and the temptations of smoking were greatly increased. The cigarette had become a coping mechanism and I suppose it became the catalyst for the start of the day with a cuppa. The thought of giving up just wasn't there. When people said to me, "You should stop, don't you know it's killing you" or "Why do you smoke when you can see that government health warning" and many more statements of truth that fell on deaf ears. A feeling of guilt was enough for me to nod in the right places after receiving thiscadvice. The habit was becoming entrenched. I had been completely caught up in the ritual of getting up in the morning, having a cigarette; going to work and having one on the way; arriving in the office, grabbing a coffee and having a smoke; or generally any other excuse to light up. You could pretty much set your clock to my smoking activities.
Okay just in case you have switched off, I had better tell you the reason for stopping. Each  reason is personal and very complex for to the individual and not necessarily about health, wealth or family. I woke up one morning with a realisation that I no longer wanted to be trapped by this habit that had gripped my life for so long, and wanted to be free from the religion of smoking. I didn't stop straight away, but made plans and set a date with real hope. Being aware of all the traps from my previous attempts at stopping, meant there were things I could preempt. I put a support mechanism of friends and health services like the NHS in place and off we went on this smoke free journey.
The first few days were intense with physical and psychological cravings, but I managed to get my hands on a leaflet from the NHS that explained the changes happening in my body and some of the symptoms of stopping smoking. That really helped me put things into perspective. It wasn't an easy road to travel, because it involved me avoiding situations where I would be tempted to smoke and plenty of early nights. The journey does become easier and now I am smoke free for 3 years +. My advice is get help from the NHS smoke free services. Here is the link

Friday, 17 August 2012

Deafened by the darkness

A life of service to the Shepherd or is it about fulfilling our own selfish desires?
We are not serving Him but our endless all encapsulating fear.
Sometimes we are so far away, an outpost on the edge;
Shattered and torn apart we sit and wait.
Grasping at anything that is tangible, measureable and acceptable to the world,
Sitting in this place like a carcass, an empty shell, waiting to be devoured by the darkness,
A place where the shadows seem more irresistible and the pull into the abyss is inevitable,
As we move deeper into this pit the ease at which we accept the tainted deception is frightening.
Where the light and the dark, merge together and become so hard to distinguish- who can tell?
Hearing the impatient finger tapping- are we waiting for more or simply procrastinating?
The pit calls again and we respond with ease,
Familiarity with tainted deception, pulling ever deeper,
Arrogance, insecurity, anger, self-pity and a controlling nature become gifts of the shadows.
Deafened by the darkness, we are in our own Gethsemane, abandoned by all.
People are no longer the problem
Are we alone?
Listening to our inner compass turning us 180 degrees
Finally seeing the darkness, we head back to the light.
The deception is over, for now.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Keith Getty Interview

Recorded on 3 May 2012 using Skype. Keith discusses Getty Music's Northern Celtic Island Tour, writing 'In Christ Alone' with Stuart Townend. He also discusses worship music in the 'modern' church, the mistakes in using music to attract "the next generation" to Church and more. I hope you enjoy the as much as I did doing it.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Music with Meaning interview: who are Rend Collective Experiment

This interview was recorded via the telephone for 105.9 Bishopfm's Music with Meaning on Wednesday 11 January 2012 with Chris Llewellyn from Rend Collective Experiment and if you want to know who did the interview it was me :o)