LAST week I was honoured to attend and speak at the launch of the Scottish Fair Trade Fortnight at Glasgow City Chambers, along with pupils from a number of primary and secondary schools in Glasgow.


Fair Trade Fortnight campaign is a fantastic opportunity to discuss what we in Scotland can do to promote and encourage the funding of fair trade.

It's not just about bananas and coffee - these days you can find many products which have been fairly traded, from chocolate made from fair trade cocoa beans to clothes made from cotton from fair trade farms, as well as tea, jewellery, sugar and make up.

After the launch event I enjoyed a kick about with pupils from Mount Florida Primary School using an ethically produced football made by Bala Sports and met with Pamela L'Intelligent, a factory worker from Mauritius.

Pamela movingly and passionately spoke about the importance of fair trade, telling us of her time as a teenager working in a factory with terrible working conditions, which produced clothes for high street shops.

She now works in a fair trade factory which employs a high proportion of people from disabled communities, and pays all workers a fair wage.

Pamela's experience as a young woman does not stand alone, her story is one of many across the world - in farms and factories - of people working horrendous hours for a wage no one could be expected to live on.

It's not so difficult for us to affect change in these conditions from home; the smallest changes to our shopping habits could have a massive impact on the lives of some of the poorest across the globe.

Another organisation which is doing a fantastic job of promoting fair trade at a more local level is All Saints Community Food Initiative.

Run by volunteer pupils and teachers from All Saints Secondary School, ASCFI collects food from at supermarkets and food drives to be distributed to those in need in their local area.

Congratulations to them for receiving funding from the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, which I believe they will be using to provide fresh (Fair Trade, of course) fruit and veg to families waiting at their food distributions.

I've met with the pupils from All Saints Secondary School on a number of occasions and each time I've been delighted by their dedication to the initiative, and their desire to alleviate poverty within their community.

Now, by incorporating fair trade into their food distribution service, they are not only learning about local citizenship, but being good global citizens too.

Finally, voting to select your Scottish Youth Parliament representatives opens today.

Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) ensure that young people in Scotland have a voice by encouraging youth engagement in political debate, meeting with Cross Party Groups at the Scottish Parliament and campaigning on issues such as the living wage and same-sex marriage.

Polls are open for 11 days so if you are aged 12-25 make sure you take a look at and cast your vote.