It’s Fairtrade Fortnight again…..

….and we’ve lots of things going on in Brighton and Hove

Brighton and Hove Fair Trade Steering Group are hosting 4 meetings over Fairtrade Fortnight

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My Fairtrade Stall is now on You Tube!

I’ve just done my first ever YouTube film of the video I did for our talk in Brighton with Matt Oliver, where I’ve taken over my daughter’s bedroom as a temporary shop, while she’s in Spain teaching, as I can’t sell it in my normal place in Brighthelm URC Community Centre’s cafe because it’s still closed because of the covid situation

Anyway here is the amended version to go out to people who couldn’t attend, with extra explanations of how to order. It’s silent for the first few slides, but don’t worry there’s a commentary coming

If you’ve any friends in Brighton & Hove you can send it on to them

Click or paste this link below to see the real thing

Getting ready for our talk and my home shop

I’ve spent most of the last two days reorganising my daughter’s bedroom into a display room for all the crafts we had to bring back from Brighthelm for the second lockdown, seeing as I’m not going to be able to do any of my usual Fairtrade sales in various churches around Brighton and Hove, instead we are doing online events and Matt Oliver has kindly agreed to do a talk with me. Normally I’d do the sale in my studio downstairs but as people aren’t allowed to come into our house now this is a better solution for the next few weeks at least!

So this image is of part of the room not quite ready but getting there, I hope to post more when I can photo things tomorrow in the daylight!

Let me know if you’d like to come and I can send you a link to the zoom meeting

Happy Easter

Thank you everyone who has bought food and Easter Eggs the last few weeks. Traidcraft have been really busy processing lots of extra orders, it’s not been immune to the panic buying, so they’re working overtime trying to get on top of the new customers.

So I’m sorry a couple of you are still waiting for a few items, one of my parcels has gone astray, weirdly my second order came a few days ago but the first one I can’t trace at teh moment. But I’ll let you know when the new items have come

I’m also hoping to get some pasta and toilet rolls when they come back into stock

Keep safe, enjoy the sunshine in your gardens or balconies

I think this draft never made it past the editing, the systems seems to have changed so am I risking republishing it?

From that to this part 4 – stock levels and orders

20 Mar FT Food stocktake for blog.xlsx

Above is the digital spreadsheet link, below is the best I can manage with my current limited digital skills. It’s arranged alphabetically by type of product

Email me on or phone me on 01273 732512 (landline) if you are near the lagoon in Hove between new Church Road and Kingsway. We do not think it is appropriate to go beyond our local environment while we are in the current situation, once the Viral problem is over I’m happy to deliver further afield.

Delivery and collection from my house subject to legal restrictions and availability of stock and social distancing measures

Cat pg Item Maker Description Ind Cat Price Sale or bulk Price Special offer price Cost / item 28/03/20 stock
p28 Choc Divine Dark 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 66
p28 Choc Divine Dark-caramel 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 37
p29 Choc Divine Dark-lemon & juniper 90g 2.39 2.15 2.55 3
p28 Choc Divine Dark-mini coins 2.20 2.20 1.76 3
p29 Choc Divine Dark-mint thins 4.00 3.60 3.00 3.00 1
p29 Choc Divine Dark Ginger thins 4.00 3.60 3.00 3.00 2
p28 Choc Divine Milk 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 46
p28 Choc Divine Milk-caramel 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 51
Prev Choc Divine Milk-giant coins 2.20 2.20 1.76 6
Prev Choc Divine Milk-gingerbread 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 31
Prev Choc Divine Milk-mini coins 2.20 2.20 1.76 7
p28 Choc Divine Milk-orange 90g 2.39 2.15 if bulk 2.39 4
p28 Choc Divine Milk-orange (1) 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 8
p28 Choc Divine Milk-orange (2) 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 30
p29 Choc Divine Milk-toffee & sea salt 90g 2.39 2.15 2.45 1
p29 Choc Divine Tasting set 6.00 6.00 4.80 4.80 6
p28 Choc Divine White 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 65
p28 Choc Divine White-cappuchino 35g 1.10 1.00 1.00 35
p30 Choc Eat Your Hat Dark-mandarin Brazilian 91g 3.95 3.55 3.55 5
p30 Choc Eat Your Hat Milk-sea salt SA 91g 3.95 3.55 3.55 8
p27 Choc Traidcraft White-Muscovado 100g 2.65 2.35 2.35 8
p38 Choc eggs Divine Dark-Flights of Flavour 8.00 7.20 7.20 3
p38 Choc eggs Divine Dark-mini 4.75 4.28 if bulk 4.75 2
p38 Choc eggs Divine Milk-Egg box 5.00 4.28 4.05 5
p38 Choc eggs Divine Milk-Flights of Flavour 8.00 7.20 7.20 5
p38 Choc eggs Divine Milk-hotcross bun 10.00 9.00 if bulk 10.00 1
p38 Choc eggs Real Dark+ mini squares 5.95 5.50 5.50 4
p36 Choc eggs Traidcraft Dark-& gifts 12.00 10.80 10.80 2
p36 Choc eggs Traidcraft Milk-& gifts 12.00 10.80 10.80 2
p12 Choc-hot Cafedirect San Cristobal 3.00 2.70 2.70 4
Prev Choc-Xmas Meaningful Choc Host of Angels 3.99 3.99 3.99 1
p12 Coffee-filter Cafedirect Kilimanjaro 4.65 4.20 3.15 3.15 5
p12 Coffee-filter Cafedirect Macchu Picchu 4.65 4.20 3.15 3.15 4
p8 Coffee-filter Traidcraft Decaff-organic 4.25 3.82 3.82 2
p8 Coffee-filter Traidcraft Medium Roast 4.25 3.82 4.00 4
p7 Coffee-filter Traidcraft Transparent 4.95 4.45 4.95 4
p12 Coffee-instant Cafedirect Smooth roast 4.65 4.20 4.15 3
Prev? Coffee-instant Traidcraft Decaff 4.65 4.20 4.45 6
p14 Cookies Traidcraft Choc chunk 1.80 1.60 1.60 5
p14 Cookies Traidcraft Fruit & oat 1.80 1.60 1.60 4
p21 Fruit Tropical Wholefoods Apricots 1.90 1.71 1.90 1
p21 Fruit Tropical Wholefoods Raisins 3.45 3.10 3.10 6
p21 Fruit Tropical Wholefoods Sultanas 3.45 3.10 3.10 3
p4 Honey Traidcraft Mexican Blossom 5.75 5.20 5.20 2
p4 Jam Traidcraft Strawberry 2.65 2.35 2.35 4
p4 Marmalade Traidcraft Orange 2.65 2.35 2.35 2
p23 Milk Ma’s Happy Life Kitchen Coconut 1.95 1.75 1.75 9
p4 Muesli Traidcraft Geocrunch-Granola 3.90 3.50 3.50 4
p4 Muesli Traidcraft Geomuesli-Exotic 4.15 3.75 3.75 5
p4 Muesli Traidcraft Geomuesli-Fruit & Nut 4.15 3.75 3.75 2
p21 Nuts Tropical Wholefoods Brazil 3.95 3.55 3.55 2
p21 Nuts Tropical Wholefoods Walnuts 3.95 3.55 3.55 3
p21 Nuts Zaytoun Almonds 4.40 3.98 3.98 3
p25 Oil Zaytoun Olive 12.70 11.42 10.15 10.16 3
p23 Pasta Altromercato Penne Rigate 2.70 2.43 2.05 4
p25 Pulses Zaytoun Freekah 3.25 2.63 2.63 3
p25 Pulses Zaytoun Maftoul 3.25 2.63 2.63 2
p22 Rice Kilombero Brown 3.75 3.38 3.40 2
p22 Rice Kilombero White 3.75 3.38 3.40 9
p20 Snack bars Tropical Wholefoods Date & walnut 0.00 0.72 0.65 0.65 22
p17 Sugar Traidcraft Light brown 1.65 1.45 1.45 1
p17 Sugar Traidcraft White 1.60 1.40 1.40 3
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co Camomile 2.20 1.98 1.76 1
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co Ginger-zingy 2.20 1.98 1.76 6
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co Peach & Rhubarb 2.20 1.98 1.76 6
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co Peppermint 2.20 1.98 1.76 5
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co Raspbery Inferno 2.20 1.98 1.76 4
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co Sencha Green 2.20 1.98 1.76 6
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co Vanilla Chai 2.20 1.98 1.76 1
p6 Tea-herbal The London Tea Co White-Pear Tatin 2.20 1.98 1.76 1
p5 Tea-loose Traidcraft Breakfast 1.90 1.70 1.70 2
Tissues Together Green Facial 2.40 1
Kitchen rolls Together Green Pair 2 1.60 2
Gloves Traidcraft Rubber-medium 1.65 1.55 1
Soap Traidcraft Clean & Fair Orange & honey 1.50 1.40 2
Soap Traidcraft Clean & Fair Lavendar 1.50 1.50 1

From that to this pt 3 – Ousting my buttons!

Having got the food stock home, where on earth am I going to keep it? I used to have a big Billy bookcase (thank you Ikea) with solid doors, in which I kept some of my stock, but once I got my lovely cupboard at Brighthelm, I move it all over there and have reorganised a lot of my work files into the space, so my studio is less cluttered.

When I have my Christmas home sales, I put my studio and dining room out of action, I hide all the boxes and bags of stuff on my floor under the dining room table (but only you know that of course!) Food, wrap and cards go in there

Then I take all the inspiration images off my studio wardrobe doors and clear my 4×8′ table so the textiles can hang up on the doors and my pinboards around the edges and the gifts can go on my table

Finally I put the decorations up on a quilt I made way back in the mid 1980’s for my shop (see previous blog pt 1) along with necklaces and other jewellery, which is on my design bar in the hallway.

So where to put all the food?

Thankfully I have a brainwave, but it means moving all my lovely buttons, though hubby will be glad. As it happens I’ve been meaning to reorganise all my buttons, beads and sequins which are stored in 4 different places and a few weeks before we had moved some more Billy bookcases back from Alex’s office in Brighthelm now they’re all hotdesking and so I moved a smaller bookcase into a silly little passage we have at the back of the house. So the pictures below are half of it moved already. The pictures on the wall are two of my 3D spiral pieces – google my work blogs / facebook/instagram (Louise Mabbs Textiles) if you want to see more.

Which leaves me with a clear but dusty surface, which once sanitised I can put the Fairtrade samples on it

IMG_20200321_114652 (1)Then I can can put out my Easter eggs…..

And my teas, rice, pasta, cereal, honey, jam, other chocolate, mint and  cleaning products…..

While my stock is elsewhere in the house, but easily accessible

A few days before a neighbour had pushed a leaflet through our door from #viralkindness which offered help for delivery’s, phone support and other needs. Frankly it made me cry, because we’d been staying indoors anyway, feeling hopeless, unable to help others etc. SO I was really blessed and encouraged by it. I already work from home and Alex now has an office here too, we’d eventually been able to get our younger two home from uni with all their luggage (one should be finishing and the other is supposed to go to Spain to teach English next year) but thankfully a fair amount of food because we’ve been very sensible about not doing food panic and avoiding going out more than once a week to shop, one person at a time (as the rules are now requiring anyway.

So I texted the neighbour and told her I’d got food and stuff and was going to put flyers through neighbours doors telling people I could order and deliver to their porches without contact being necessary. There are just over 80 houses, so far I have been able to help 3 households. Whether I will be allowed to continue if we are restricted further I don’t know, It’s taken me a while to get to this point. I’ve got another order to make, now Traidcraft have settled down a bit.

Who knows how long this will last and whether anyone of us will get it, we’re not going out for exercise, doing it in our garden, a mended swing ball is quite a challenge at the moment but I’ll be an expert by the end! Frankly seeing so many people walk past my studio towards the beach and seeing so many people on the promenade all the way to Brighton when we collected the food horrified me, so I’m certainly not going there and driving to a scenic or popular place is not acceptable either (even though people are still sadly doing it). Though I might need to get out on my bike, which we figure is the least risky way because we’re not near to pedestrians , though the narrow cycle path by the sea is too close for social distancing if you take things seriously, which we should.

The next post will be a list of what I have in stock currently. Keep safe and well everyone xxx

From that to this pt 2 – Covid 19


So my cupboard is full to the brim, I’ve had a busy Advent and Christmas season and a  quiet January as normal, it’s February and things are starting to pick up again as the daffodils, my favourite flower,  poke their heads through my sad winter garden grass. I’m tired from the grey days and so much busyness and I need to get back to my artwork now I’ve got my tax accounts in. (Don’t worry my FT stall is a voluntary job, not part of my art business).

She Deserves a Living Income_Web Page Banner.jpg

Suddenly I realise Fairtrade Fortnight is nearly upon us, normally we should have been planning for FTF for several months but for various reasons the local FT Steering Group hasn’t been able to meet, we pulled out all the stops last year with a big Bake Off Siobhan at the Fair shop, just across from our church garden, on Queens Road. All of us on the committee are busy with our shops or stall or other employment and so we don’t have enough time to organise anything big. So I decide just to have full day events for both weeks of the fortnight. I offer a free bar of Divine for sales over £10 instead.

I’ve bought a lot of Easter Eggs in and am going to buy the cards and painted eggs next order, it’s still along way off. Unfortunately the weather is bad, half my mailing list emails come back as ‘unknown recipient’ and I don’t hear from many of the ones that do get through. We are starting to get news about a virulent viral outbreak in China, nobody knows if it’s going to spread to other countries yet. I extend the offer for another week to give people a chance to get out in the dry.

20 Traidcraft Easter Eggs.jpeg


Then we hear in the news that a man from Brighton has become a superspreader of a corona virus. He went on a foreign business trip, then to a holiday in another country with friends. He gets well after isolation, but the waves are lapping at the door. It sounds scarey but not too close, except that Italy starts to get cases and it starts to feel a lot more serious, we have a lot of Italian interns working for us at Brighthelm on their business course placements and so the new ones are called home by their government and those living here permanently start to worry about their families. Italy goes into shut down. Cases are multiplying here. After several weeks the government start to mutter about closing things down, numbers are rising but they’re talking about herd immunity and don’t seem to be testing or closing down things like other countries but the threat is coming, slowly.

When eventually the government begins to ask people to stop meeting in groups, to avoid cafes and social places, we agonise over what to do. Management make the decision to close the cafe straight away, we have so many vulnerable groups who use the building and we don’t want to risk people’s health. Though so many bookings have been cancelled, food has been prepared for the last few that week though all cancel I believe the food was redirected to local charitable organisations. Other places are continuing to sell, people aren’t taking it seriously. We’ve already told our volunteers not to come in, though one of our gardeners comes along with fluey symptoms and has to be strongly persuaded he should be at home and not outside to infect people.

The following week the government suddenly closes cafes, at least people know where they stand though, how many will have to waste food now that people are panic buying in the shops, yet the cafes can’t open. Enterprising ones make up meal packages to deliver to people. Eventually the government makes a financial package available for them. In the midst of this I have nowhere to sell the food in my cupboard, I have not been out for a week, not even for a walk, trying to keep out of everyone’s way.

(Hover over photos for captions- they’ve changed it all since I was last posing regularly)

We’ve sent home staff with babies or partners in the medical sector and run on a skeleton staff while all the social action, 10 step groups, tenant churches and community groups regroup themselves for working at home. But how many needy users will miss out, now they can’t see their advisors and might not have access to social media?

On Saturday my husband and I go in to collect the food from my cupboard before movement is banned. Everything is quiet, just the signs of a wedding reception laid out in the auditorium, the last event. What to do now? How long before we can open the building again? Will we ever recover? Will the tenants have found different ways of working with their clients.  As we unpack the cupboard I wonder how we are going to use up so much chocolate, thankfully it’s well in date, bought to sell in the cafe  on a special seasonal offer, but I’ve pasta and other things people have been panicking over -can I sell it to friends in need, or neighbours, some of whom have come to my Christmas open houses. How can it be done without physical contact or contamination?.

We leave the building a sad husk of the buoyant life it normally holds. When will we see others we meet with daily or weekly. I say bye bye to all my lovely crafts, cards, textiles and other non perishables.

From that to this… pt 1 Derbyshire to Brighthelm

I apologise that his is rather a long post, but I thought I’d share the story that got me to having my Fairtrade stall at Brighthelm URC in Brighton and the changes Covid 19 has brought upon us

I have been a voluntary Fairtrader for many years and involved with the  whole FT movement for over 40 years, since I was a teenager. First through friends Rod & Pauline Higham, who set up an interdenominational church youth group and who were early supporters of Tearfund’s Tearcraft catalogues – when macrame sikas and baskets were brought back in the empty hold of airplanes which had taken out aid to people made homeless by the Bangladeshi floods. Out of this the concept of selling more items,  and food emerged.

I loved the glimpses of foreign lands and arts and crafts particularly the textiles and I got that it was better to buy stuff from craftmakers, than just send money – craft built long term jobs, aid just relieved the immediate need but abandoned the long term consequences. I also got the environmental consequences of local production and the need for wider markets. Somewhere along the way Christian Aid coined the term Trade not Aid, which has been a constant in my life ever since.


Christmas sale 2019 view from my cupboard

One Christmas I came home to Wirksworth in Derbyshire, to find a pop up Fairtrade Christmas shop in an empty building by the market place. It was very successful and having a group of motivated Christians behind it from several churches across town and being a quirky place with a lot of more leftwing politically residents. Two of these were Ann & Reg Dean (he was a former Anglican minister who’d baptised my mother as a child in Birmingham, who’d become an United Reformed Church minister in later life and somehow ended up in Wirksworth while Anne is the mother of one of my former school friends. For a while Reg was the oldest man in the country, living to almost 110!).

So next time I went home I found they had set up one of the first FT shops in their front room of their house on the market place. In time it grew to 2 rooms, a treasure trove of beautiful gifts, writing paper and food. I wasn’t a coffee drinker then so when people joke about Campaign Coffee (drinking ethical but dreadful flavoured first attempts) I just remember the beautiful gold shiny bags and not the taste!

When I returned home to Derbyshire after college for 5 years, I often used to spend half my day off from my home studio and later from my shop studio, helping in the FT shop.

In 1986 visited friends working in a leprosy hospital in Nepal and saw beauty and poverty in equal measures, it inspired me to dream of doing meaningful work in a developing country, using my textile training and skills,  but I was sent home with a flea in my ear that ‘no missionary organisation will want you till you’ve proved yourself in your own business‘ it was actually harsher than that but I’ve tried to move on!


View as you leave the building

A couple of years later, Traidcraft advertised a design job based in Gateshead, Newcastle but traveling to Africa & Asia several times a year, working with different producer groups on new products, techniques and quality control for the catalogues. It was the perfect job for me, One my church homegroup leader said couldn’t possibly exist, yet he found it in the Guardian jobs pages! They had 100 applicants and interviewed 4 of us so I felt very hopeful, but I lost it to someone already working with a NGO (Non Government Organisation) in Bangladesh. Apparently my face fell when I was asked how I would cope in foreign countries on my own. I had naively assumed, as some were Muslim countries where women could not go about on their own, that Traidcraft would send out two people at a time, eg. a financial or farming advisor and the craft designer. Not so. I was devastated but had already realised I would probably have got depressed up in the highwalled warehouses with tiny windows at the top and only half knowing a friend of a friend in Durham up there. It didn’t help that the long journey there and back was grey and wet the whole way. So I continued with my shop/studio work until Alex Mabbs, who I’d met on an international evangelism conference with Operation Mobilisation started to ease into my life. We actually were in a team in West Berlin when it was still in East Germany, praying for the Turkish gast arbeiters and other locals, and, for the Berlin wall to come down which it did a couple of months later

In 1991 we married and moved to Theology College in Manchester, where I supported other FT reps as a customer on various placements. Liberation Theology classes added to my understanding of injustice in the world. I trained to be an Adult Education teacher alongisde my commissions, teaching and exhibition work and starting our family.

After Alex was ordained as an United Reformed Church Minister we moved to London in 1995 for our first job and I became a FT rep for Tearfund and Traidcraft in the 4 URC churches we co-looked after in Wandsworth and supplied several other Anglican churches. Lots of trips across Clapham Common with stock in the double buggy and toddlers walking alongside with the promise of a ride home!


My range of bags, cushion covers, aprons and garments

We moved to Hove in 2006 to look after 3 URC’s in Hove & Portlsade. I had cupboards / stalls in all the churches, opening up at which ever we happened to be at that week. In late 2013, we made a sideways move to look after Brighthelm, a single, 6 story community centre church in Brighton, where Alex had the remit for the pastoral care of the small congregation and the many users of the building, including many social and environmentally based charities, with the main focus of getting people to engage spiritual and environmental issues – a whole areas of theology that western churches had ignored for centuries, despite believing God to be the creator of the world. Much of his early work focussed on the Paris climate change talks, hosting the walkers and runners on their march there, sadly events planned for when they were in Paris were thwarted by a terrorist attack leading to outdoor events being cancelled, which really dampened the effect of protestors/supporters going to support the desperate goals the world needed deciding on.

My cupboard at Brighthelm is  is the biggest and best facility I’ve had, I had to wait for a year for a niche in the wall to be turned into my cupboard, but what a wonderful cupboard it is! 2 shelves on a wall, turned into 4 with a closed in storage area underneath. I have been running a weekly stall for over 5 years, watching the ebb and flow of the activities and visitors on a Thursday: gardening, poets, epileptic, health walk, community radio, and foreign language groups and others;  the workers in the offices and social support groups; visitors to events in the auditorium – health conferences, science magicians in Science week, loud bands in the May Arts Festival and more…Initially I only opened for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but as my stock enlarged and I realised how much I liked meeting all the newcomers and old timers I expanded to 4-5 hours, with 8 hours on specials seasons like Fairtrade Fortnight (Feb/Mar), Advent and Christmas.

Now however, with Covid 19 closing our cafe, ahead of the ban for safety reasons, and the whole building for lockdown reasons, I have had to move my food stock back home, incase of a very long lock in. How do I keep supporting Traidcraft and my customers if  I can safely. The next post will be about what. temporarily at least I can do. In the meantime I hope you have enjoyed the  pictures of the stall as it was for one of my Christmas or advent sales last year!


Fairtrade cupboard DSCN3612 copy

My cupboard with some of the Easter Eggs in 2018


Update re my Fairtrade sales during the Covid 19 crisis

Dear Fairtrade Customers

I hope you are surviving and thriving despite the present crisis we are in. Our family is well, my husband is collecting our daughter from university at the moment, our middle one is home from his, our eldest is working from home in Newcastle.

Brighthelm is closed, we shut the cafe very soon after the PM said people needed to stop using them and before the official lockdown of food venues. We had inevitably lots of cancelations of bookings for various rooms in our community centre but on the basis of the numbers of people working in various charities the building hosts we also didn’t want to encourage people being in close contact, so our building closed on Sunday.

Alex is working from home now and I already work in my home studio, so we are only have to go out for shopping or responsible exercise occasionally

When the Brighthelm centre was quiet on Saturday we brought back my food stocks, which are now at home in Braemore Road, Hove. I am in the process of setting up a small supply of food and cleaning products for neighbours in our road and friends who live locally and can safely and on their own collect things from us, or where I can leave things in our porch.

I have done a stocktake and will put a list of things I have in currently and try to update it as I get orders in.

Traidcraft are regrouping so they can continue to supply voluntary reps like me and they urge you to order through their local contacts rather than from them directly. It also means you can buy individual items at a lower price where I can buy whole boxes of them I will be putting in an order soon.

Payment will be by a bank payment into my Fairtrade account, there need not be any contact hand to hand, so the appropriate distances can be kept. I’m told the virus takes several days to die on cash, so this seems the safest way

Currently I have quiet a few Easter Eggs in stock and lots of other chocolate bars in readiness for Easter of course, which we can’t now celebrate in our churches, other than virtually at home. I have biscuits, herbals teas, coffee, jam and a few cleaning products* and a little pasta*, lots of rice, other things but I’ll list them as soon as I can and order as soon as I can.   * Items which people are panic buying on will be limited to one per order until stocks are more secure.

You can phone me on 01273 732 512, or email me on     I can then give you my mobile number and other details as appropriate

I will try to put some pictures on the next blog, tonight or tomorrow

Please bear with me as Traidcraft & I start trialling this new way of selling their products

Take good care of yourselves

Louise x