The Fairtrade Cotton Ambassadors – 5

This week, after a bit of a blogging break, we are back with a bang! We feature one of our longest-standing and devoted Fairtrade cotton Ambassadors – Angela Oakley of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum (SFTF).

Angela (to Andy’s right) after a talk to Scottish school students by Pamela Intelligent from the Koolskools factory in Mauritius.

Our Fairtrade cotton project continues to be brilliantly and enthusiastically assisted by many excellent advocates up and down the country, as our Fairtrade Cotton Ambassadors blog series is showing. Angela Oakley really is in the vanguard of those wonderful supporters.

We first met Angela in 2011, before we had a single client school in Scotland. Angela was the catalyst for our very first client school in Scotland, Craighead Primary, and this year we are hoping to reach over 50 client schools, many of whom have heard of us through the efforts of Angela and the SFTF.

Angela’s Interest in Cotton… 

…started when she became Schools Advisor for the Scottish Fair Trade Forum in 2009. Angela wanted to advise schools on how to embed the Fairtrade ethic into all parts of school life, including schoolwear.

This interest grew when Angela researched cotton and became aware of the problems with current cotton cultivation in some parts of the world.  She was shocked at how cotton growing had needlessly ruined the lives of so many farmers, and how it had wrecked ecologies.

Angela introduces the iniquities of global cotton sourcing to an Edinburgh Fairtrade Schools SFTF Conference work-shop before a talk by Vishwaraj from the Koolskools factory.

Angela’s Cotton Advocacy…

…started with involvement in with People and Planet’s Wear Fair campaign and she started to extend this campaign into Scotland, working with the Scottish Fair Trade Forum and organising a pilot campaign in her home area of East Dunbartonshire, which was then extended to the whole of Scotland.

This was the SFTF’s Fairtrade Cotton Schoolwear Campaign. Angela now finds that teaching about cotton and the garment industry is one of the best ways to deliver messages of responsible global citizenship to children.

Angela wanted to share the information she had discovered through her research so created an on-line exhibition entitled Cotton Unfolded which is displayed on the SFTF’s website.  This tells the story of cotton, past, present and future and describes the main issues and how Fairtrade cotton, including Koolskools’ schoolwear, addresses these.


Angela’s working relationship with Koolskools…

In recognition of Angela’s amazing work as a Fairtrade cotton advocate, she carried the Olympic flag in Barrmill in Ayrshire. It is not Angela’s home area, she had never been there before, but the village welcomed her and her family warmly.

…helped the campaign in Scotland, she asserts. Angela acknowledges that Koolskools raise awareness of the injustices surrounding cotton production and feels that KS make switching to Fairtrade cotton schoolwear easy for schools. Meeting Pamela and Vishwaraj from our factory in Mauritius, and hearing their personal stories, has strengthened Angela’s commitment to spread the word about how our clothes are made. So we are delighted that we have made a contribution to reinforcing this inspiring lady’s crusade on behalf of down-trodden cotton farmers and clothing factory workers.

Angela on Fairtrade school uniform…

…“It has been wonderful to see local schools switching to Koolskools Fairtrade cotton schoolwear and being comfortable in all ways with their switch.  Crossing the playground at my local school with Pamela and witnessing her delight at seeing the pupils happily wearing the shirts she had made is particularly memorable”…

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