Body Shop International partners – win Sedex Sustainability Award

Our partners – The Body Shop International – have won the Sedex Sustainability Award for Community and Collaboration for their work to design and deliver a hugely impactful Lorna Young Foundation ‘Farmers Voice Radio project for shea nut collectors and butter processors in northern Ghana.

We are thrilled to be part of this multi partner collaboration, which brings together The Body Shop International, Tungteiya Women’s Association, Cargill Zor, Solidaridad, the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) and us at the LYF. We have been working together on a project that aims to strengthen the sustainability of the shea supply chain in northern Ghana by connecting women shea producers to the knowledge they need to improve their economic resilience.

Saudatu, shea nut collector from Yipielgu, Ghana. Oct 2023.

The collaboration has developed a 3-year project that uses the LYF’s Farmers’ Voice Radio methodology to produce the radio programme Kpihi Saha (Shea Time) that raises the voices of women shea producers on Ghanaian radio stations, Zaa FM and Simli Radio, to address the issues that matter to them.

Kpihi Saha is broadcast four times a week in local language, Dagbani, to an estimated audience of 400,000 people, and discusses quality shea nut collecting, processing and marketing, health and safety, diversifying livelihoods and protecting the shea parklands, as well as broadcasting local shea market prices. In addition, 5720 women will receive training on gender smart business skills, collective marketing, health and safety, climate smart agriculture and income diversification. The project complements GSA’s Action for Shea Parklands initiative, with community level advocacy focussed on sustainable management of the shea parklands.

The Body Shop’s Virginia Sampaio visited the project at the end of 2022 with the Lorna Young Foundation’s Farmers’ Voice Radio representative, Hannah Clark. There, Hannah she met shea nut collectors and butter processors who feature in the weekly radio programmes. Saudatu told the LYF: “The Kpihi Saha radio programmes have transformed my life. I used to add spoiled nuts, but the programme taught me to move the spoiled nuts and now I get better shea butter- it is high quality. I educate a lot of people about the Kpihi Saha radio programme […] It makes me feel important, that I am an ambassador”.

Rakia Shaibu shared how access to information has changed her practices and the impact of this on her family, “I never imagined I could make 200 Ghana cedis profit from my shea nuts, but now I am able to make between 300 and 400 Ghana cedis. This school academic calendar when my husband was unable to pay for our children’s school fees, I did not struggle to pay.”

This LYF project has been funded by the Fund for Responsible Business (FVO), as part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, The Body Shop International and Cargill Zor.

For more info on our Farmer’s Voice Radio work – head over to our FVR website!

IWD – Two Special Women (Plus Many More!)

On International Womens’ Day 2023, we thought we should mention a few very special women in particular.

First of all, we always want to pay tribute to our namesake, Lorna Young herself. Lorna was the key player in terms of banging on supermarket doors back in the 1980s’ – convincing them that buying fairly traded coffee and tea was the absolute least that they could do in terms of supporting the world’s impoverished smallholders who provide the vast majority of our imported food and drink.

Lorna Young

Without Lorna, the UK – if not the world – would be much further behind when it comes to fairly traded products being a staple in most of our cupboards.

Secondly, we want to honour our wonderful friend and collaborator – Cristina Talens. Cris came to work with us after she headed up ethical trading at the wonderful Betty and Taylors of Harrogate. As someone who spent a lot of time out in the field (literally) with coffee and tea growers, Cris was all too aware of the dreadful struggles facing smallholders – and in particular the women farmers – when it came to possessing enough knowledge and training to grow better crops, combat climate change and have more say in the running of the farmer co-operatives.

Cris’ knowledge was crucial in helping us to dream up our idea for Farmers’ Voice Radio and since she came on board with us – the initiative has gone from strength to strength.

Cristina Talens

Cris now owns and runs her own company – Source – which also makes the UK’s first sustainable and carbon-neutral coffee! Despite being a woman of many talents, Cris is still an advisor to the LYF and is a very dear part of the LYF family.

Finally, of course, we want to pay tribute to the millions of women smallholder farmers; carrying out back-breaking work every day as they grow, cultivate and pick their crops, whilst at the same time battling climate change, bringing up children, running a household, looking after elders and supporting their communities. Without these women, the rest of the world would lack so many of our staple foods and our luxuries.

Women cocoa farmers in North Kivu, DRC, taking part in the LYF Farmer Radio Programmes


Please help us to further support women smallholders across the world, by donating to our crucially important work here!

Fairtrade Fortnight & FVR

It’s #FairtradeFortnight2023 and this year the initiative focuses on the ‘Future of Food’ and the urgent threat posed by climate change.

At the Lorna Young Foundation, we are proud to be working currently with two Fairtrade tea cooperatives -Sireet Outgrowers Empowerment and Producer Co Ltd in Nandi County Kenya and Sukambizi Association Trust in Mulanje, Malawi.

Smallholder tea farmers from both cooperatives are now the stars of their own Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes – the initiative created by the Lorna Young Foundation – and through this, they share their knowledge and experience with thousands of others about what works for them, to make their crops and their livelihoods more resilient to increasing temperatures and more extreme and unpredictable weather events.

Listener Paulina in Nandi, Kenya, said about their radio programme, ‘The Sound of Farmers from Sireet OEP’: “We get empowered and get new skills of farming. I heard when they were talking about… soil management and I now know the benefits of using mulch as it conserves water.”

We wish everybody involved in the activism and celebration of the Fortnight – a very happy Fairtrade two weeks!

Members of Sukambizi Association Trust, Malawi, recording content for their Radio Programme, ‘Tea Talk’

FVR @World Radio Day!

Welcome to ‘Farmers’ Voice Radio’ (FVR) on World Radio Day 2023!

Thanks to the innovation of the Lorna Young Foundation, a small charity based in the north of England, Farmers’ Voice Radio is now making massive strides in transforming the lives of millions of farmers and rural communities across Africa and Latin America.

The Need for Radio

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost of living crisis, smallholder coffee farmers were under increasing pressures from a combination of climate change, unsustainable land management practices and global market volatility. Isolation, war and conflict, poor infrastructure, low levels of literacy and gender inequality have meant that many people in these rural communities lack access to the skills, tools and information they need to overcome these challenges and make their farming a success.

Radio continues to be the most trusted, affordable and accessible communications medium across many parts of the world – and nowhere more so than in the rural areas of impoverished nations and those suffering from war and conflict – where radio reaches thousands simultaneously with the same message. Because there is no reliance on the written word, radio is particularly important for farmers who often have low levels of literacy and who cannot access mobile technology or afford to pay for data. And more often than not, women are excluded from finding out more about making the land that they themselves cultivate in order feed their children and to earn a livelihood.

Akatame, a coffee farmer, Jimma in Ethiopia and a loyal listener of Farmers’ Voice Radio (photo credit Netsanet Hailu).

One of the most troubling aspects of our work here at the Lorna Young Foundation, since we were established in 2003, has been seeing the impact that climate change and war and conflict has had on farmers: whether farming coffee, tea, rice, shea nuts or cacao, farmers have told us of enormous changes and threats to their crops over the last couple of decades – so we have reacted to this by creating a Farmers’ Voice Radio – an approach that can embrace ways of dealing with many threats to crop yields, including deforestation, flooding, drought, disease, pestilence and the devastation brought by war and conflicts.

What Farmers Voice Radio Does

FVR works in partnership with farmers themselves – whatever sort of crop they cultivate. The farmers tell us their information and training needs and we support their community radio stations to design a programme around this, in local language. The programmes are then broadcast – reaching sometimes to up to 1 million farmers scattered across rural areas.

Farmers who have access to a phone and to texting are invited to text in their questions to be answered by agricultural experts in future programmes and other information needs – such as preventing COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, advice for women, news in relation to war and conflicts etc. can also be added onto the programme content.

The very first set of our radio broadcasts took place in Kenya and the stakeholders involved decided to call the programme ‘Farmers Gold’. A broad audience of 4.5 million was achieved, resulting in 705 more farmers joining a local co-operative (50% of them women) and 70,000 new disease-resistance coffee trees being planted during the first few weeks of broadcasting, leading to much higher and more successful yields.

To date, Farmers’ Voice Radio has been implemented in dozens of agricultural communities across 9 African countries and in Latin America. We have received partnership support from many wonderful commercial partners, such as the Body Shop International, Dark Woods Coffee and the Rainforest Alliance, all of whom rely on securing high quality products from producers – and who are truly committed to paying the farmers a fair price for their produce.

Mount Elgon coffee farmers, Uganda – big fans of Farmers’ Voice Radio! (photo credit – Jenipher’s Coffi)

Our FVR Academy

We have now developed a ‘Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy’ – putting the power of participatory radio into the hands of thousands more smallholder farmers’ by providing training and coaching to the organisations and individuals working with them.  This involves a free online learning network that includes group training sessions for farmers and their local partners – with individual coaching from us, a resource hub with downloadable guides and tools, a community of practice for peer support and an opportunity for participants to apply for a small start-up grant.

Between March and June 2022, 16 individuals representing 13 organisations from seven countries (Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and India) participated in our inaugural Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy.  All participants were staff or volunteers of radio stations, NGOs, community-based organisations or farmer associations, and many of course, were also farmers themselves, with a deep personal understanding of the challenges facing the rural communities they work with.

Future of Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy

The Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy approach has not only been transforming the lives of the farmers themselves, but has deeply impressed the companies who process and sell these commodities. Dark Woods Coffee supported the Lorna Young Foundation to trial our first ever FVR project outside of Africa, when we worked with vulnerable coffee growing communities in the north of Panama.

Over the next year, the Lorna Young Foundation aims to continue to support the lives of vulnerable smallholder farmers. Through the Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy, the charity plans to train 20 more radio stations and farmer organisations, reaching another three million smallholders with its radio programmes and we’re currently preparing to work in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance with farmers in rural South Africa.

Help us to Help Struggling Farming Families

The Lorna Young Foundation, however, is a small charity and very much relies on the generosity of a few grant makers and donors. We need financial support if we are going to be able to continue to offer this opportunity for free.

Donations can be made via the QR code below, or via

As a journalist … [I feel] the need to have the programme run at our radio station to foster change in the way our community does its farming activities. Better practices will in turn lead to better yields and market access...”

Fatma Mzee, Operations Director of Vox Radio and Farmers’ Voice Radio Academy graduate and start-up grant recipient.  

Radio Users Supreme!

We kick off the new year with an article that we wrote for the wonderful Radio User magazine!

Thanks once more to editor, George Wiessala and to the many readers of Radio User, who have shown such interest and enthusiasm in our Farmers’ Voice Radio work over the last few years.

And a special thanks, of course, to all communities and partners who have worked with us over the last 12 months.

Here’s to some more fantastic results for the rest of the year!

Scottish Power Foundation – Supporting the LYF

The Lorna Young Foundation is delighted to be able to announce that we are one of the 19 chosen charities to be awarded funding for our Ethical Entrepreneurs work by the Scottish Power Foundation.

Competition for the funding was fierce – with hundreds of worthy projects and charities applying, so it was even more heartening for us to be hear the good news!

Ian Agnew, Chairperson of the LYF said: “Lorna Young was an outstanding Scottish woman. An ethical entrepreneur who changed British society’s way of viewing the products on UK supermarket shelves, she was a original trailblazer who wanted people to realise that we can change the world through our purchasing habits.

It therefore means a great deal to us – that the Scottish Power Foundation has recognised our work in this way – and that their funding directly addresses the problems currently facing communities due to climate change. Thanks to their support, during 2022, we will be working with 4 groups of disadvantaged people to help them to use our ‘Not Just Us Toolkit’ and to become the ethical entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

The groups that the LYF will work with over the course of the year will gain the opportunity to create their own social enterprises, learn business skills and earn some money for a cause. This will improve economic and employment chances and foster local, ethical and environmental responsibility.

The Scottish Power Foundation’s press release can be found here

Thanks for believing in our work, Scottish Power 🙂

Some of the younger Not Just Us participants

Bob Young

We were so very sorry to hear this week, that Bob Young, father of our namesake, Lorna Young, has sadly passed away.

Bob was a Scotsman – a true gent – who loved his wife Daisy deeply and who missed her terribly since her passing, only 9 months before him.

He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him, for his warmth and wit.

On behalf of the board and staff of the Lorna Young Foundation, we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Bob’s family and friends.

Worldwide FVR Webinar!

The LYF recently held our first ever webinar – dedicated to the work of our Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative – and we were thrilled at the level of interest – with nearly 200 people registering to attend!

Led by Hannah Davis, Hannah Clark and Cristina Talens on behalf of the LYF, the event was hosted focused on how our participatory radio approach works and the impact it has achieved through projects in Kenya, Ghana and DRC. Webinar attendees heard from some of LYF’s partners; Virgina Sampaio from the Community Fair Trade Team at The Body Shop, Luke Wepukhulu of Mount Elgon Agroforestry Communities Cooperative Enterprise and Grace Hutchinson from InsightShare. The webinar also heard from Jeneba and Amara – two farmers in Sierra Leone and from two MEACCE farmer members, Esther and Agnes.

The LYF team were overwhelmed with the responses and questions both during the webinar and afterwards; you can watch the webinar at the link here and read more comprehensive information about it at our FVR website.

Ethical Giving through Enterprise – in Ramadan

Many of our family and friends here at the LYF are familiar with our work and already committed to donating zakat during Ramadan. But for those of you who aren’t – please read on!

Smallholder Farmers in Harar, Ethiopia

The largest portion of the world’s 800 million poor are ‘subsistence’ farmers; barely able to make a living after they’ve fed their families with the crops that they grow.

So, making enough money to be able to cultivate and sell a crop for a fair price, in order to access better health, education and housing is simply a dream for most. And all too often these farmers are also faced with climate change disasters (flooding, drought) or a war or conflict; making death from hunger an every day reality for millions.

But our approach centres on ‘help up’ – rather than the ‘hand out’ approach. Through our unique Farmers’ Voice Radio project, we give hundreds of thousands of farming families across Africa access to vital information about crop cultivation, climate change, negotiating for a better price with buyers from the North and encouraging their young people not to desert farming life for the (often false) lure of city life.

Young Ethiopian farmers learning about Farmers’ Voice Radio

So, we help these coffee, tea, rice, nuts, fruit, cocoa, shea etc. farmers in Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone, the DRC and Uganda to create their own radio programmes; filled with content and vital information that they have selected and designed themselves; the most important advice for them – for their crops and for their family’s survival.

We also have a UK focus; we have never been fans of the ‘Dragon’s Den/ Apprentice’ greed-focussed approach to enterprise and instead, have been working to grow a new generation of ethical entrepreneurs. In 2009, we created the world’s first refugee-owned social enterprise; the Oromo Coffee Company. And since then, we have been working with groups of disadvantaged young people to teach them about problems facing the world’s poor. After they have been made aware of the interconnectedness with those living overseas who are poverty-stricken, we then support the groups to create their own ethical and community based social enterprises – selling fairly traded products and services. This is called our ‘Not Just Us’ programme.

The first Not Just Us group – in West Yorkshire

Our groups are comprised of young people from marginalised backgrounds, who also lack privilege and advantages needed to succeed. But we also ensure that our groups are made up of people from mixed backgrounds, so that misunderstandings and prejudice can be overcome through the medium of ethical enterprise. Our very first group began in West Yorkshire, where we worked with a group of Muslim and non-Muslim youth; all of whom were at risk of long-term unemployment, who forged some life-long friendships and who have now gone on to achieve great things!

Giving it Away – for FREE

But what makes the LYF even more unique is that we are a small charity with virtually no overheads. Since 2003, we have been home-based; no expensive London rent to pay, no ridiculous CEO salaries and no feathering of our own nests. We have always been determined to keep the vast amount of funding in-country; being spent on the people who need it the most. And even better than this – our Board recently took the decision to OPEN-SOURCE our Farmers’ Voice Radio work AND our Not Just Us work; meaning that our learning and advice can now be given away – free – to the communities who need it the most.

Oromo coffee
A refugee member of the Oromo Coffee Company – proudly displaying the coffee that they sourced from Oromia, with the help of the LYF.

So if you want to be assured that your zakat will be received with huge gratitude this Eid and will go directly to the poorest people in the world overseas … please do consider donating to us – and telling others about us!

Christina Longden, Director for the LYF has been a key driving force for our work to help poorer communities both overseas and in the UK. You can find out more about Chris’ own personal passions to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims here.

See and for more. You can donate to the LYF here

LYF (of Brian)

Some years ago, Irish entrepreneur Brian Keegan found out about the work of the Lorna Young Foundation and volunteered his time and skills with one of the smallholder coffee growing communities that we were supporting in Kenya.

Brian accompanied Ian Agnew from LYF to the Rumukia Farmer Co-operative Union in the Nyeri region, where he learned about the many challenges facing some of the world’s poorest coffee growers, who lack business and marketing skills and who earn only around 1% of the retail value of their crop.

Brian and some of the coffee farmers of Rumukia

Although Brian’s business and coaching support proved to be invaluable to the farmers, Brian himself came away deeply impressed with the hard-work, the level of professionalism and the commitment that the Nyeri farming communities had for their crops.

Today, Brian is still very much committed to the principles and the practices of ethical trading. He recently got in touch with the team at the LYF and mentioned that his latest ‘Scaling Up Global’ for businesses workshop will donate all proceeds towards the work of the LYF.

So in return, we just wanted to say …. CHEERS, BRIAN!

Make your donation to the LYF here – please reference it as ‘SCALING UP’.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO ANYONE WHO DONATES TO US! DON’T FORGET TO SEE to find out what else we’ve been up to recently…

‘ENTREPRENEURS VS POVERTY’ – Brian in the coffee bushes of Rumukia, Kenya.

Remembering Daisy

The Lorna Young Foundation is incredibly sad to share with you, the news of the death of Daisy Young, Lorna Young’s mother.

Daisy was born in 1931 in Mennock, Lanarkshire and on leaving school trained to be a nurse as well as working in the mills in the area.  She met and married Bob Young and they went on to have three children. Daisy was a well known local figure, running a shop in the town of Lockerbie where the couple settled.

Daisy’s daughter Lorna was one of the pioneers of fair trade in the UK and was personally responsible for persuading national supermarkets to list fair trade products for the first time. When Lorna died at the age of 44, Daisy and Bob were devastated but continued to support their daughter’s work and were hugely proud of her achievements – efforts which continue to have an important impact on the world’s poorest people.

Daisy and Bob kept in close touch with Lorna’s former school and visited Lockerbie Academy on several occasions; reminding staff and pupils that Lorna’s legacy is carried by the Lorna Young Foundation and it’s overseas work.

Daisy’s loss will of course, be felt most profoundly by Bob and by Daisy’s close family and friends. The Lorna Young Foundation’s Director, Christina Longden says;  “I always looked forward to chatting with Daisy. She was incredibly passionate about trade injustice – about quietly getting on with doing the right things for people who held very little of the power for themselves. She had an excellent sense of humour and although she was in a great deal of pain during her last couple of years, she would always say to me soon on into our conversations; ‘but enough about me, dear – how are you?’

Daisy’s presence, wit and strength will be missed by all her close family and friends – but most of all by Bob, her dear husband and best friend.

Yorkshire Post: Go Sierra Leone!

Terrific article in the Yorkshire Post – announcing our funded project in Sierra Leone! Read below…

A Yorkshire charity is helping thousands of isolated cocoa farmers in Sierra Leone with an informative ‘forest-friendly’ radio show. Chris Burn reports.

At a time when the UK’s overseas aid contributions are very much in the headlines, a small charity from Yorkshire is showing how it can make Government-backed support go a long way.

The Huddersfield-based Lorna Young Foundation has been awarded just over £53,000 from the Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to help expand its Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative, with a further £2,000 provided by the Souter Charitable Trust.

The Farmers’ Voice Radio scheme has been running since 2010 to broadcast trusted, vital agricultural information in developing countries around the world and has reached over one million smallholder farmers to date.

Many of these farming communities, often in remote areas, are under huge pressure due to issues like climate change and intensive cultivation leading to deforestation, degraded land and declining productivity.

Chairperson, Nialaforaa village, Gola, Sierra Leone. Photo credited to Twin.
Cocoa pods. Photo credited to Twin.

The broadcasts bring together local farmers, agricultural experts and supply chain partners to share their knowledge and expertise to encourage more sustainable and effective farming techniques, as well as providing tips on how to sell produce for a good price.

Using their latest grant, the Lorna Young Foundation – named after a late Fairtrade champion – has now launched a radio project targeted at smallholder cocoa farmers living around the edge of the Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP) in Sierra Leone. The area has been hard hit in recent years, having been on the frontline of both the civil war and Ebola crisis.

A charity spokesperson says: “The GRNP is home to many threatened species. It is a protected national park, but deforestation, slash and burn agriculture and charcoal production are huge threats. Cocoa is tree-based crop that thrives in agro-forestry conditions and can play a positive role in rainforest conservation; producing cocoa with forest-friendly credentials is a great business opportunity for local farmers, but due to geographical isolation, gender, and illiteracy, many smallholder farmers struggle to access information on how to make gains in this area. Coronavirus has exacerbated this situation by closing training programmes, shutting off trade routes and inflating local market prices.”

New programme Goolla Ndiamo Yie, which means ‘Forest Friendship’ in local language Mende, sees members of the Ngoleagorbu Cocoa Farmers Union meet each month to discuss a range of topics linked to forest-friendly cocoa production.

The discussions are recorded and edited into 15-minute programmes by community radio station, Starline FM, and broadcast twice weekly reaching an estimated listenership of 60,000.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister Baroness Liz Sugg says: “The skills and expertise in grassroots organisations from across the UK, like the Huddersfield-based Lorna Young Foundation, are changing lives in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This innovative UK aid funded project harnesses the power of communication to support farmers to grow their way out of poverty and protect their local environment.”

LYF’s chairperson Ian Agnew says: “The LYF’s approach is simple and incredibly cost-effective. We are delighted to receive this second grant from the Government’s Small Charities Challenge Fund, which will enable us to reach even more of Africa’s poorest farmers and to assist with achieving sustained poverty reduction.

“The learning generated from this new project on forest-friendly cocoa production in Sierra Leone will allow us to expand and improve our online Farmers’ Voice Radio resources, benefiting smallholder farmers in other regions at a time when accessing face-to-face support is particularly challenging.”

For more information, visit



The LYF is pleased to announce the launch of our new website – dedicated to our Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative!

Coinciding with World Radio Day, we are revealing both our fantastic new – FREE – resource-based website, along with our new ‘brand.’ We thought that a funky little clay coloured radio would be just the ticket!

So – what are you waiting for? Scoot on over to and have a look at the enormous amount of work that our small team has put into ensuring that smallholder farmers – ANYWHERE – can now access, in order to lift themselves out of poverty.

You can also join us in our latest ventures on Twitter with: @farmersvoiceradio and on Facebook with: farmersvoiceradio

PS – a very special thank you to Sally Davidson for her stunning design work. Talented person indeed.

Bond Achievement

As a small charity, it is often very difficult to get our voice heard and our work recognised, so we were over the moon to learn that we have made the long-list for Bond’s ‘Small NGO Impact Award’ for 2020.

Bond is well-known amongst anyone who works in the international development community. It provides support, advice and campaigning activity for a huge number of UK-based NGOs. The LYF’s Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative was selected as 1 of just 13 NGOs who Bond feel are demonstrating excellent examples of high impact through their work. Terrific stuff!

It goes without saying that we wish all of the best to the other chosen NGOs and thanks to Bond – for this vote of confidence in our work.

You can find out more, at the link below:

Zakat – to Support Muslim Farmers and Communities

The Islamic faith has a long tradition of peaceful and respectful trading activities. Justice, compassion, honest work and enterprise are key components. Did you know, for example, that the Qu’ran has more written on the subject of trade and commerce, than any other subject?

The largest portion of the world’s poor, are the 800 million who live in rural areas; great distances from the nearest markets and basic health and social services. The majority are ‘subsistence’ producers or farmers; barely able to make a living beyond feeding their families enough, just to stay alive.

Making enough money to cultivate and then sell a crop for a fair price, so that they can access better health, education and housing is simply a dream for most.

Smallhold Farmers working with the LYF in Harar, Ethiopia

Muslim supporters of the LYF are keen to spread the word about this small but mighty UK based charity.  Unlike many of the other ‘household name’ charities, the LYF focuses entirely on helping poor communities both in the UK and overseas, supporting them to become effective, ethical entrepreneurs. We now work with many Muslim communities in various countries across Africa through our Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative.

Not content with providing ‘a hand-up, rather than a hand-out’, the LYF also uses its programmes to bring together different communities and people of faith. Several years ago the charity set up the ground-breaking Oromo Coffee Company  – a Fairtrade coffee company designed to support Oromo refugees in Greater Manchester.

Oromo coffee

Then the LYF set up ‘Not Just A Trading Company’ across the north of England – helping youth from different backgrounds to overcome divisions by forming their own ethical trading enterprise. The charity has also worked to support Arab producers in Palestine/Israel and continues to develop new approaches to bring communities together in the name of ethical trade.

Our first ‘Not Just A’ ethical enterprise group, West Yorkshire

Most recently, Christina Longden, Director for the LYF has been a key driving force for our work to help poor Muslim communities both overseas and in the UK. You can find out more about Chris’ own personal passions to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims here.

The LYF is a very unusual, small charity. Based in Huddersfield, UK, the organisation has minimal overheads. No expensive offices or salaries and there is certainly no feathering of our own nests! We work to keep the vast majority of our funding with the people who need it the most and who can only dream of the privileges that we have.

See and watch out for our brand new Farmers’ Voice Radio website – soon to be launched!

PLEASE consider donating zakat to The Lorna Young Foundation this year and share our work with your mosque and community groups.

Wasalaam and Peace to all this Ramadan.

Phew. What a year!

Most of us will be having a wee rest now … as we flip over our old-fashioned calendars and head into 2020.

This marks a chance for us to draw breath and to – collectively – say WOW. What an incredible year we’ve had here at the LYF.

Thanks to the galloping pace of our Hannah Davis and Hannah Clark, plus the back-up support of Christina and Cristina (hmmm – what IS it about duplicate names at the LYF…) and of course the hands-on dedication of our Board, we are in a great place and looking forward to an exciting and successful 2020.

We now have projects underway or in the pipeline in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Ethiopia. Our wonderful new website will be launched in the early New Year and we have forged some fantastic partnerships, from our firm support on behalf of DFID / UKAid relationship and with new partners; household names that we will soon be able to tell you about!

Women working working with the LYF – shea butter farmers, Ghana

As always, we have some potential exciting opportunities bubbling away in the background for 2020 and we very much welcome comments, ideas and suggestions from you – our readers and supporters.

More than anything though, we need to tell people about who we are, what we do – and why. You will already know that we are a tiny charity, making a massive impact globally – but we lack slick marketing teams and budgets. So we really do need YOU to sing our praises and to donate to us – as and when you can.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has contributed to our work this year.

Keep in touch – and let’s continue to work together in order to tackle the root causes of poverty for farmers in developing countries.

Onward – and skyward – for 2020!

Ian Agnew (Chairman)

Christmas Change?

It might seem to have gone a wee bit quiet on the ‘news’ front from all of us here at the LYF but rest assured that we have been working our socks off!

We have SO much to tell you – but being the sneaky lot that we are, we wanted to burst forth will all of this in the New Year. We have a spanking brand new website for Farmers’ Voice Radio to launch and reams of exciting project news to give you.

Most readers will know that we are a tiny team and that we truly do our best to keep every penny ‘in-country’ so that farming communities gain maximum benefits.

With this in mind – we’d be delighted if any followers of our work want to DONATE to us in order to support our work further.

Just head over to our ‘Support Our Work’ pages to see how you can help. And whatever you can give, rest assured that we will spend it more wisely than even a Wise Man would.

Thank you. And have a peaceful festive season.

Kenyan smallholders – LYF project group

Farmers’ Voice Radio: Ghana & Shea Butter – NEW project!

In May the Farmers Voice Radio (FVR) team travelled to Tamale in northern Ghana to launch a new FVR project. The project is working with female farmers involved in the harvesting of shea nuts and the production of shea butter; a highly desirable ingredient used in many food, cosmetic and hair products, as well as being a staple in local cooking.

Members of the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association processing the shea butter by hand

Northern Ghana is one of the principle areas where shea nuts are grown, but deforestation and climate change are decimating shea tree parklands. At present, demand for shea butter outstrips supply – representing an excellent business opportunity for women, who desperately need to improve their household income.

In Ghana, women gather the shea nuts from the trees and process the shea butter (a very labour-intensive process). However, most do not have the knowledge or information they need to generate a quality product and find a buyer who will give them a fair price. Radio is the most effective way of sharing knowledge with the farmers; it is trusted, inclusive and quickly reaches thousands in their fields or in their own homes. FVR is bringing these shea nut gatherers and butter producers together, along with local agricultural experts and community radio stations, to produce radio programmes that provide exactly the right information needed by the women, at the right time of year and in the language that they understand.

Hannah D and Hannah C (nicknamed Hannah Squared by the team!) conducted a training and planning workshop with the amazing project team, hosted by our partners CARE International in Tamale. The participants included our two fantastic radio presenters, Kate and Osman from GBC-URA FM; Listener Group leaders and farmers from Jawani and Tariganga, Sahada and George; agricultural extension officers from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Titus and Fausta; and Gladys and Agnes from CARE International. We also welcomed Shani, an associate of our BRAVE [HD2] partner, the Walker Institute, and expert in RAINWATCH; and Madam Fati and Thomas from the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association.

One of the key outputs of the workshop was identifying the targets for the Farmers Voice Radio programmes, which are:

  1. Improving the quality and volume of shea nut and butter production
  2. Improving market information and access for collectors and processors
  3. Improving the health and safety of collectors and processors
  4. Improving the environmental sustainability of shea in target communities

A cross-cutting theme of improving access to relevant and downscaled weather and climate information and supporting adaptation was also identified.

We also developed a Radio Programme Plan that laid out the priority issues that the radio programmes will address over the coming year. These included how to avoid snakebites when collecting shea nuts; when and how shea nuts should be collected to get the best quality; how to protect shea tree seedlings; finding alternative wood fuel strategies to deforestation; the process for producing high quality shea butter; and the different markets for selling shea nuts and butter.

One of the highlights of the week was a visit to Mbanayili, a shea butter processing centre, hosted by the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association. Tungteiya supply shea butter to The Body Shop  and have remained true to their values of promoting women and the development of the producer communities.  During the visit the team were guided through the full shea butter making process, which is all done by hand and is focussed on making the highest quality butter. The radio presenters interviewed some of the association members and the Executive Chair, Madam Fati, and links were made between the communities of Jawani and Tariganga and the Association.

Sahada is a farmer from the community of Jawani and the Listener Group Leader. Sahada really enjoyed the visit to Tungteiya and she was very keen to report back to her community everything she has learnt, and to include it in the radio programmes.  She told us ‘I like so many things about Farmer Radio because I hear what is going on in farming and I am ready to put it in to active work as a farmer, who is picking shea nut’.

This project is funded by UK Aid’s Small Charities Challenge Fund, Prince of Wales Charitable Fund, the Gibbs Trust, Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust, Ashworth Charitable Trust and the W. F Southall Trust. We want to thank all our generous donors and supporters for enabling this important work, which is strengthening the livelihood of thousands of shea nut gatherers and butter producers and their families across northern Ghana.


The Lorna Young Foundation officially have a BIG IMPACT! We’ve been awarded the ‘Big Impact for a Small Charity Award’ by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI).

As part of the award, we won a professional video … made just for us – and showcasing our Farmers’ Voice Radio project. As a small charity, we are lean (but not mean) and consequently, we don’t have a marketing budget or money to spend on PR. So, this award will truly make a massive difference to us. We have had our excellent new video edited – and will get this out to you in a future blog post. But we thought you might like to read the acceptance speech, written on behalf of our very own, Hannah Clark:

Hannah Clarke with the FSI Award

“Winning this award has been fantastic! It has been amazing to get recognition for the hard work of our small team, and our wonderful partners across Africa. So, thank you FSI – for your tireless campaigning, support and encouragement for small charities. 

Thank you too, to Dale the filmmaker who has made our LYF Farmers’ Voice Radio film – he has been so patient and generous with his time.

I work in a small, but mighty, team at the Lorna Young Foundation. We are home-based and are spread across the country – but my colleagues, Hannah Davies, Christina Longden and Cristina Talens are awesome. Our Board too – led by Chair, Ian Agnew. And, I must say thank you to our families too. They who put up with a great deal – particularly holding the fort while we travel! 

We feel very proud to have won this award, but the real heroes and heroines – the true impact-makers – are the farmers across Africa. They work tirelessly, in extremely difficult and often precarious conditions, to produce high quality produce and tp provide for their families and communities.

So, I am accepting this award today, on behalf of all the farmers who contribute to and listen to Farmers Voice Radio programmes. Together we are lifting the voices of farmers and transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of smallholders. 



Small charities suffer from a lack of funding and the personnel needed to get our incredible stories out there. Often, here at the LYF, we’re so intent on ensuring that every penny is kept ‘in country’ – helping desperately poor smallholders – that we lack the opportunity to get a ‘hand up’ ourselves.

So, thank heavens for the likes of The Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI). This UK based organisation supports small charities like the LYF. They design ideas, courses and approaches that are aimed at the smaller charitable sector.

So – it is with enormous pride – that we can announce that WE WON! Yes! The LYF won an FSI Small Charity Award 2019 … and best of all – our prize was having a professional video of our Farmers’ Voice Radio work with poor African smallholders – made for us!

If you would like a first glimpse at the video – much of which was taken on our recent trip to work with Ghana shea farmers – please do click on the link and enjoy!

We’d be really happy too, if you can share our win – and our video – with the sort of people, companies and organisations who ‘get’ what we do ie. those who care about supporting smaller organisations like the LYF – charities that possess the drive and the determination to make a difference, without being cushioned by enormous reserves and salaries!

But very importantly – to all of the team at the FSI and the FANTASTIC filmmakers. THANK YOU! You are already making a great difference for our African farming friends.

Ugandan Floods: Help LYF Help!

This week’s terrible floods in Uganda are a timely reminder of how much support this part of the world needs. Desperately poor farmers in the country have yet again been struck by disaster; with lives being lost and livelihoods ruined.

The LYF had already decided to work in this region with our partners – supporting farmers to put in place flood prevention measures. This week’s terrible news is a timely reminder of the important of this work. PLEASE HELP US BY DONATING TO THE LYF! You can find out more about our work in Uganda – where we use our Farmers’ Voice Radio approach here

From East African News – please help us to support the poorest farmers of Uganda!

UK Govt Backs LYF and Ghana Women Farmers. Via Radio. With Shea Butter

Great news! We’ve been awarded a grant from UK Govt’s Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) – led by DFID’s UK aid team with the aim of boosting the impact of small charities in their work to reduce poverty overseas.

‘Farmers Voice Radio’ (FVR) is the LYF’s flagship radio initiative, working with farmer organisations and community radio stations in Africa to disseminate much-needed information to the continent’s most isolated farmers. FVR uses the power of radio to positively improve smallholders’ farming, sell their produce for a good price and preserve their natural environment.

Ghana is amongst the poorest 50 countries in the world, and northern Ghana is particularly vulnerable to droughts, failing harvests and few livelihood choices. Our new Farmers Voice Radio project will work with female farmers working in shea butter production; a highly desirable ingredient used in many moisturisers and hair products, as well as in food. Northern Ghana is one of the principle areas where shea nuts are grown, but deforestation and climate change are decimating shea tree parklands. At present demand for shea butter outstrips the supply – providing excellent opportunities for shea producers who desperately need to improve their household income.

Ghanian women are generally responsible for gathering the shea nuts and processing the butter (a very labour-intensive process). However, most do not have the information needed to generate a quality product and sell it for a fair price. Radio is the most effective way of sharing knowledge – as it is trusted, speedy, inclusive and reaches thousands in the fields or ‘at home’. LYF will work with butter producers, local agricultural experts and community radio stations to create radio programmes that provide the information needed by the women, at the right time of year and in their preferred language.

Baroness Sugg CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Development said that the LYF is:

“Empowering smallholder farmers in Ghana with access to the information and advice they need to grow their business and boost the income of themselves and their communities. UK aid is supporting the Lorna Young Foundation to help farmers improve the value of their business and lift themselves out of poverty.

Small charities do not allow their size to limit their ambitions and UK aid’s Small Charities Challenge Fund is there to make sure they get the support they need to help us end poverty once and for all.”

LYF’s chairman, Ian Agnew, was thrilled to see this highly-competitive funding being granted to the LYF and said:

“The LYF’s approach is simple and incredibly cost-effective. The Government’s SCCF will enable us to support some of Africa’s poorest female farmers. We are looking forward to working with the team from DFID we work together to create a resource that can also be used in other regions with many other products grown by smallholder farmers.”

LYF will also be offering their expertise and experience in how to deliver Farmers Voice Radio projects through a new free-to-access online platform (watch this space!). This want to enable any farmer organisation or cooperative that works with smallholder farmers – anywhere in the world – to design and implement a Farmers Voice Radio project, as we have done.

The LYF would like to thank the Government for their vote of confidence in our work and to emphasise that this work is being funded through UK aid from the British people.

From Lockerbie with Love

As a small charity, the LYF struggles with the capacity needed in order to regularly seek out donations from individuals and other organisations. So we are genuinely bowled over when we receive an ‘out of the blue’ donation.

Most recently we were recently astonished to be told that Lockerbie Academy had raised an outstanding £1,000 for the LYF! A record donation for us, from a school!

Staff and students have been aware for a number of years, just how unusual our ‘small but mighty’ charity is. They know how we run completely unique projects that help the poorest smallholder farmers in Africa; those who everyone else seems to have forgotten about – but who provide us with the necessities AND the luxuries that we have often become complacent about.

The school have worked hard to raise this money through a number of fundraising events and are quite rightly, enormously proud of what they have achieved. They invited Ian Agnew and Christina Longden from the LYF to attend their annual Valediction Ceremony and presented them with an equally enormous cheque!

But what makes this story even more special, is that Lockerbie Academy is the school that Lorna Young herself attended as a teenager. Understandably, the students are committed to remembering this incredible woman – a Scottish lass who was almost single-handedly responsible for getting fairly traded products into British supermarkets. And their way of honouring her is through education about ethical trade and supporting a small charity that is making mighty waves.

The ceremony was attended by Lorna’s brother and sister-in-law who were also deeply touched by the gestures made by the school. Lorna’s parents are currently too unwell to attend, but we just as thrilled as we were to hear the news.

The money raised by Lockerbie students will go directly into helping the LYF’s ‘Farmers’ Voice Radio’ programmes in Africa.


If you know of any school or other organisation that wants to help a smaller charity that quietly makes a huge impact for the poorest African farmers, then please tell them about us … Please also, consider donating yourself to us if you can.


We were recently asked by magazine ‘Radio User’ to tell their readers about how – and why – the LYF set up our ‘Farmer Radio’ projects; empowering Africa’s poorest smallholder farmers through the medium of community-based, participatory farmer radio programmes.

We hope that it raises the profile of our work amongst radio enthusiasts across the world; indeed, Chris Longden’s article was instantly spotted by well-known, British ‘autistic blogger’,  who, along being a die-hard radio fan, has also worked for the LYF as a volunteer in the past!

We have been delighted to receive emails of support from the magazine’s readers and will contribute more updates on our exciting, new developments with Farmer Radio. We are currently looking for ‘LYF Ambassadors’ to help us in our endeavours – so keep on checking into this website if you are interested! But as always – PLEASE consider donating to the LYF and perhaps raising money on our behalf!

With thanks to Radio User magazine and Chris Longden for reproduction of this article.

Thanks to Leticia!

In the previous blog, our summer intern, Leticia Nketiah from the US, told us all about her aims for her work with the Lorna Young Foundation. And now it comes to saying goodbye – here at the LYF, we simply cannot believe where the time has gone!

We’re truly sorry to have to say farewell to Leticia. During a short amount of time, she has proven herself to be an outstanding member of the team, an enthusiastic worker and someone we can rely on to get her teeth into a range of jobs; an essential quality for anyone who works in the small to medium charity sector in the UK!

So, over to Leticia, for her take on her experience at the LYF – but not before we’ve wished her all the very best for her future!:

LYF’s Hannah Clark and Leticia about to enjoy some ice-cream in Brighton…

“As my time at The Lorna Young Foundation comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on all that I have learned from the Foundation. I can honestly say that the organisation’s pursuit to support smallholder farmers in Africa has now exposed me to the great world of fair trade. 

In the past six weeks, I have helped summarize the Farmer’s Voice Radio academy projects and learned the specific challenges facing cooperative groups in multiple African countries. I have also strengthened my fundraising, data analytics, and research skills through grant work, analyzing baseline and end line data, and finding best fits for publications.

I have also had the pleasure of meeting an influential person in the ethical trading sector – and former board member of LYF – Albert Tucker. Mr. Tucker agreed to talk to me about his career journey, the biggest challenges in fair trade, and the success stories he has witnessed over the years. I learned a lot from Albert, especially about how trade and ethics affect us all—  consumers and producers alike.

Working with LYF whilst doing my study abroad provided me the flexibility of experiencing British work culture, expanding my network while also exploring London. Everyone on the team was especially helpful in my transition, understood my objectives, and worked to accommodate my learning.

I hope to further my knowledge of fair trading in my personal life and encourage others to take part in ethical consumption. International organizations like the Lorna Young Foundation are far few and in between — and are not as explicit, or as easy to find — in the United States. As I journey back home, I will continue to share the missions of LYF back to the States and see what similarities exist.”

Leticia at the LYF

The Lorna Young Foundation is delighted to have appointed a summer intern!

Leticia Nketiah will be helping us with our Farmers Voice Radio and our Not Just Us programmes— as well as with other elements of our work here at the LYF directly. Leticia is a US citizen and was keen to work with a UK charity. So, we’ve asked her to share a bit more about herself …

Hi, my name is Leticia Nketiah. I am a senior undergraduate student at The Ohio State University majoring in Public Management, Leadership, and Policy with a minor in Global Public Health— concentrating in Health Policy. I have a passion for public service and resolving some of our world’s most pressing healthcare problems such as access, affordability, and equity.

Leticia having fun at Windsor Castle

This summer, I am studying in the UK, not only to learn more about the world in a diverse, global city like London, but to also gain more professional experience working for an international organization. I chose to intern at the Lorna Young Foundation because I value its mission of alleviating poverty through ethical trading.

I was raised by Ghanaian immigrants who worked hard to provide the best for their families. My father grew up working on a farm, my grandmother’s produce kiosk was the heart of her village, and most of my siblings have that same entrepreneurial drive. Agriculture is a major source of revenue for developing countries and also how many earn their livelihoods. Thus, I understand the value that organizations such as the Lorna Young Foundation play in the lives of disadvantaged groups and am happy to be a part of the process.

I am hoping that my time here will help me learn more about public service from the perspective of a charity with an international and domestic focus. Personally, I wish to sharpen my own skills in nonprofit management, leadership, and communication. Above all, I am looking forward to understanding more about how LYF’s work can inspire policy and advocacy for disadvantaged groups.

Leticia Nketiah