Charity, Education, Shop

Our 20th year to heaven!

Our anniversary logo

To paraphrase a line from Dylan Thomas’ poem, Poem In October, August 31st is our 20th anniversary of being a shop and charity in Paisley, Renfrewshire. We have had an incredible journey over these last 20 years and it’s amazing that we’re still here.

We started back in 2002, when four friends – Liz Cotton, Phil Cotton, Kate Cox and Alison Patrick – had this exciting idea to move from running stalls in church halls to open a fair trade shop in Paisley. Those early years were about stepping out in trust, not knowing what the outcome would be.

We went through the heady years of growth, when we had a warehouse in Paisley and shared it with JTS, the importer and distributer of WFTO foods. Then our periods of financial difficulty when we looked like closing and had to pull back to just the shop again. Days when we were deep in our overdraft and didn’t have enough to pay the staff the next day. There was the impact of Covid when we didn’t know if we’d open again…

And yet we are still here, selling fair trade goods from our delightful Paisley shop and educating the young people of the west of Scotland about fair trade. We’ve welcomed rice farmers from Africa, honey producers from Guatemala, clothing makers from India, and who can forget Foncho our banana farmer from Colombia? We’ve even helped in making Paisley a fair trade town and Renfrewshire a fair trade zone. Last year we hosted Mauro Pereira from Brazil, a delegate at the COP26 conference in Glasgow who gave an impassioned talk on our podcast.

With all our ups and downs, recently one volunteer described Rainbow Turtle as the Miracle Shop. It’s been a constant theme throughout our existence, that when we’ve been at our lowest, and everything is bleak, something miraculous happens to revitalise us.

Along with our miracles we wouldn’t be here without the assistance of so many people and organisations. Primarily we’re grateful to our volunteers who bring their smiles and their enthusiasm to the shop. We particularly remember those who have passed away and are no longer with us. Many’s the time we’ve had positive feedback for the helpfulness and friendliness of a particular volunteer.

RT staff and volunteers at our fair trade meal in 2016

We’d never have started without the vision of Liz, Phil, Alison and Kate and the help of the Paisley Methodist Central Hall, who kindly offered us accommodation on a very low rent. We’re grateful to all the schools and church groups who’ve supported us by ordering fair trade stalls or inviting us in for talks and conferences.

Finally, we can’t forget the people of Paisley and the west of Scotland who’ve embraced us and shopped at 7 Gauze Street. It’s by buying our fair trade goods that we can help farmers and producers in developing countries. Through them we create this global bridge between Paisley and other parts of the world. The tiny actions of individuals here make a massive difference to others elsewhere.

Our delightful Paisley shop with shop manager and volunteers

What’s next? To celebrate our anniversary, we’ll be holding a cake cutting in the shop on the 31st August 2022, and a ceilidh (but of course!) in the Paisley Methodist Central Hall on Saturday 3rd September. Watch this space for more details and how to book for these events.

Education, Shop, Uncategorised

Rainbow Turtle in Love Paisley magazine

The new summer edition of Love Paisley, the magazine produced by Paisley First, featured an article on Rainbow Turtle on page 11. It explains why we believe that fair trade is so important and how Paisley’s past links well with what we do. Click on the image below and it should take you straight to page 11. In order to read the article you’ll probably need to maximise the screen (there is a little frame icon in the bottom right of the magazine window. Alternatively, you can read a fuller version of the article if you click here. Enjoy!

Education

Remembering Molly McGavigan

Molly McGavigan in the RT warehouse

It’s with real sadness that we announce the passing of Molly McGavigan last Sunday (27th March). Molly was a great fair trade campaigner and supporter of Rainbow Turtle. As a volunteer, Molly originally set up our education programme where she would go into schools and teach them about fair trade. Now we have a full time education officer, but we wouldn’t have this if Molly hadn’t have set it up at the beginning.

We would like to collect memories and photos of Molly that you may have so that we can share them on our website. If have you have any stories or pictures of Molly please send them into our office email address.

Molly’s funeral will be on Wednesday 6th April at 11am. You can watch it online here:

http://www.westreamitstreams.co.uk/mcgaviganm

Education, Podcasts

Part 2 of a throwback to the original podcast, episode 1, from 2016

Original podcast creator, Josh Brown

We’re back to February 2016 to the original Rainbow Turtle podcast series which was previously thought to be lost. This is part 2 of that first episode which takes us to an number of interesting places:

  • Josh interviews Martin Rhodes and Graham Clark of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum at their AGM, where he also meets fair trade campaigner, Mary Alice Mansell of the Lochwinnoch fair trade group.
  • He talks to rice farmer, Howard Msukwa, from Malawi, to Ishmael Diaz, a honey producer from Guatemala, and Liam McLaughlin, former warehouse manager at JTS, the Scottish fair trade importer and supplier. 
  • Josh records MPs, Gavin Newlands and Mhairi Black, answering questions from pupils from Gryffe High School in Renfrewshire. 
  • Finally, there is a wee piece from Jings and Scrivens talking about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Please subscribe to our podcasts on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google podcasts. If you like us give us a 5 star rating or leave us a comment.

Education, Fair Trade Fortnight, Shop

Fair Trade Fortnight Tastings

Volunteers, Steph Mayo (left) and Clotilde Rayon (right), with education officer, Linda Okhuoya-Ologe (centre)

To celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight, Rainbow Turtle is hosting a series of tastings of fair trade goodies and home baking outside its Paisley shop in Gauze Street. If you come down to the shop between 10am and 2pm on Saturday 26th February, Friday 4th or Saturday 5th March you’ll be able to meet some of our wonderful volunteers and taste the delights of some of the products we sell in the shop. The home baking includes ingredients made with fair trade sugar, chocolate, olive oil and even beer bread mix! Also, on offer is fair trade coffee and hot chocolate.

The tasting is free but we also hope that you’ll like the products or ingredients so much that you’ll want to buy some for yourself inside the shop. Failing that, come and chat to our volunteers and staff at the stall, they’d love to meet you. Also, you’ll be taking part in one of our events to mark Fair Trade Fortnight where we remember the producers in developing countries and everyone that makes fair trade possible.

Our thanks go to all the staff and volunteers who prepared the stall, cooked the home baking, looked after the stall and encouraged passers by to try the food.

Education, Podcasts

Throwback to original podcast episode 1 part 1 from 2016

Original podcast creator, Josh Brown

This episode takes us back to February 2016 to the very first Rainbow Turtle podcast which was previously thought to be lost. Part 1 of this episode takes us on a fair trade journey:

  • It starts with founder, Liz Cotton, talking to school pupils.
  • It then chats to attendees at the Scottish Fair Trade Forum AGM,
  • Before Ross Beattie looks at fair trade in Uzbekistan and Lynsay Bellshaw talks about her average day at Rainbow Turtle. 
  • The episode finishes with an interview with rice farmer, Howard Msukwa, from Malawi.

Please subscribe to our podcasts on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google podcasts. If you like us give us a 5 star rating or leave us a comment.

Education, Shop

Jenipher Sambazi video

Following on from Jenipher Sambazi’s talk at our COP26 event, and our recent news item about Jenipher’s Coffee being stocked by Rainbow Turtle, we thought you’d like to hear more about her and the amazing work that she does in Uganda. Jenipher is an inspiring person who talks about how fair trade has changed the perception of women in Uganda. She also shares what she is doing on her coffee farm to combat the effects of climate change. Click on the video below, sit back with your cup of Jenipher’s Coffee, and relax…

Please note that Rainbow Turtle will be reopening for business on Saturday 8th Jan at 10am. You can not only buy her delicious coffee but you can peruse our extensive stock of fair trade drinks, food, crafts and gift cards.

Shop

Jenipher’s Coffee on sale at Rainbow Turtle

Jenipher’s Coffee

We recently met Jenipher Wettaka at Rainbow Turtle’s COP26 event. She spoke about the coffee that she grows on the slopes of Mt Elgon in eastern Uganda. We’re delighted to say that we’re the only retailer of her delicious coffee in Scotland. Come and buy her coffee in our Paisley Shop for your own kitchen or make it a very different gift for that coffee lover in your life.

You can find out more about Jenipher in this short video clip that played in her talk to us in Paisley back in November. Look out also for our next podcast episode where we replay the whole of that talk.

Education, Podcasts

Pauline Tiffen interview

Welcome to this special Christmas episode of the Rainbow Turtle Rebooted podcast where I’m delighted to be able to interview Pauline Tiffen of the Journal of Fair Trade. Ever since I started this series I have been trying to get Pauline onto it. I first heard her speak at a Scottish Fair Trade Forum lecture back in the summer of 2020, at the height of lock down, when she spoke about the future of fair trade. It struck me then that her thinking about fair trade was on a different level to mine. 

She’s been involved in fair trade, or earlier versions of it, since the mid 1980s. She helped set up Cafe Direct and Divine Chocolate. Pauline was head hunted by the World Bank to look at ethical financing. And she currently edits the Journal of Fair Trade and is involved in the setting up of a business to business project, which links cooperative coffee farmers in landlocked Uganda and Rwanda with small coffee roasters and coffee shops around the UK.

We had a fascinating chat where she talked about her early bohemian childhood following her travelling actor father, to her studying russian in the old Soviet Union and then moving to Poland when Lech Walesa started the Solidarity revolution. I’ve decided to keep this longer podcast together in one episode just to maintain the fluidity of her interesting story. I do hope that you can find the time to listen to it and enjoy her story like I have done.

My thanks to Pauline for sharing her thoughts on fair trade and on her interesting life experiences. It was a real pleasure to interview her and I hope that you have enjoyed this episode as much as I have done. Listen out for more of our episodes, particularly for a series of talks we recorded during COP26.

Please subscribe to our podcasts on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google podcasts. If you like us give us a 5 star rating or leave us a comment.

Education, Podcasts

Martin Rhodes talk on COP26 and Fair Trade Part 2

This is the 2nd part of Martin Rhode’s talk that he gave to Rainbow Turtle at their AGM back in October. In part one he talked about the links between COP26 and Fair Trade. In this episode he answers questions from the audience and goes into some of the areas more deeply. Some of the questions he dealt with were:

  • How did we prevent the global south paying for the cost of the climate emergency, 
  • What was happening to tariffs that was preventing producers from exporting finished products rather than raw materials, 
  • And, what was the Scottish Fair Trade Forum doing after COP26?

So pour yourself a cup of tea, sit back and relax…

Please subscribe to our podcasts on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google podcasts. If you like us, please give us a 5 star rating or leave us a comment.