RETAIL co-operatives across the country are showing their support for Fairtrade Fortnight (until 19th March) and Midcounties Co-op has proven it is quick off the mark by unveiling a large banner outside its Oxford headquarters.
The banner is part of the Co-op's campaign to highlight the plight of people in developing counties and show how Fairtrade can help them change their lives around.
It has also installed visually arresting banners, posters and shelving material focusing on the lives of children and communities in developing countries in the co-operative's 150 retail stores.
The aim of the campaign is simply to encourage consumers to make a difference by buying more Fair Trade products.
"Fairtrade is about turning people's lives around," said Steve Moralee, brand manager for The Midcounties Co-operative. "By simply switching a number of items in your shopping basket to a Fair Trade alternative you can really make a difference. Fairtrade guarantees fair prices to farmers, co-operatives and their workers for their product. Fairtrade can end the cycle of poverty for whole communities."
"Our in-store campaign profiles children like Maria aged 11 and working since the age of seven; Tsitsi aged six, a farm worker's daughter and Jose aged 14 and a street dweller since the age of nine. Our message is simple; buying a Fair Trade brand will help improve the situation for many like them.
"As a co-operative, our organisation is based on values and principles, this is what makes us different. As a member owned organisation we campaign on behalf of our members and customers on issues of concern to them. This is the key to our commitment to Fairtrade and why we support and continue to drive Fairtrade awareness in the UK marketplace."
In addition, Midcounties Co-op is encouraging local groups and organisations with an interest in Fairtrade to apply to its Fairtrade Fund. This gives grants of up to £ 500 to local groups, which want to promote Fairtrade locally.
Fairtrade Fund co-ordinator for The Midcounties Co-operative, Nicola Leech said: "If you are part of a locally run Fairtrade group holding an event, have an ongoing Fairtrade campaign in your town or something similar, you could be eligible for one of our Fairtrade Fund Grants. To apply (up to the value of £ 500) simply call 0800 435 902 and ask for an application form."