Buxton & Leek College is still the only College nationwide to have achieved Fairtrade College status. It has now been upgraded to a One-Star College Award, after being audited as part of the University of Derby for the academic years 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Now in its fifth year, this prestigious award is delivered as a partnership between the Fairtrade Foundation, the National Union of Students and Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK). The Fairtrade University and College Award gives recognition to institutions that have embedded ethical and sustainable practices through their curriculum, procurement, research and campaigns.
Over the past two years, BLC staff and students have taken part in a wide range of activities to promote Fairtrade.
Lockdown had a detrimental effect on sales of Fairtrade products such as tea, coffee and chocolate through the College’s catering outlets but staff are keen to build sales back up. Chaplain Ingrid Keith, who co-ordinates Fairtrade promotion at BLC said, “It will take hard work and commitment to get these sales back to what we’d achieved before the pandemic. Lockdown couldn’t quell our students’ determination to spread the word about Fairtrade. Our Learning for Living and Work students made a video about their Fairtrade catering events, which was shown at the Fairtrade Foundation’s online festival in 2021 and earned points in the audit for sharing good practice. These students have led the way to the award-winning success of BLC as a Fairtrade College”.
Hundreds more staff and students were involved when the College demonstrated its commitment to Fairtrade with an all-College six-week Fairtrade Induction Project last Autumn, bringing staff and students together in a common purpose as they started the new academic year together. The activities reflected the different curriculum areas, and the project culminated with Fairtrade Celebrations at each campus, where students showcased their work. This included Fairtrade podcasts made by media students, Fairtrade hair and beauty products hand-made by students, Fairtrade computer games, and Fairtrade skewers based on the appetite of the Hungry Caterpillar made by the childcare group. Students were on hand to demonstrate their creations to the two guests of honour, Cllr Susan Coleman, Chair of Leek Fairtrade Town, and Rob Harris, Morrisons Community Champion.
Chaplain Ingrid Keith said, “The achievement of our one-star Fairtrade Award is a real credit to the staff and students at BLC. At a time when young people are forming their values and shaping their future careers, it’s essential that they are given opportunities to engage with the biggest issues affecting our global community. The upgrading of our award demonstrates that despite how tough the last two years have been, our students are nevertheless thinking beyond their own personal challenges and are ready to choose the world they want. Congratulations to all involved!”