LYF and Ringtons Tea Partner with Tanzania Producers

In March 2014, Lorna Young Foundation Project Manager Cristina Talens, Joseph Macharia and Ringtons’ Responsible Sourcing Manager spent a week in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, working with staff from the Wakulima Tea Company (WATCO) and the Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers’ Association (RSTGA), to set up a Smallholder Support Network radio-extension programme with them.


Linda Lisser from Ringtons Tea visiting tea producers in Tanzania

This project, Funded primarily through the Waitrose Producer Support Fund with support from Ringtons, will use interactive radio programmes to provide farmers and their families with information and advice on issues such as good agricultural practices, sustainable land-management, markets and climate-change, as well as wider social issues affecting rural families, like HIV/AIDS. This will build upon work already done by RSTGA in creating radio production facilities.

The week was highly valuable in allowing the team to gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex challenges involved in increasing volumes and quality of leaf supplied to WATCO, to establish good relationships with all relevant stakeholders, to complete the initial training and to create & trial the baseline questionnaire. The Lorna Young Foundation’s strong understanding of the tea industry plus the wealth of experience in working with smallholders and launching radio-extension projects proved invaluable.


Linder Lisser of Ringtons Tea in cupping tea samples in Tanzania with LYF

This week highlighted one of the greatest advantages of The Lorna Young Foundation’s highly successful Smallholder Support Network radio-extension programme: the ease with which it can be adapted to a great variety of contexts, scales and budgets and still have a substantial impact. Once the smallholder group, extension officers and radio presenters have received the training, discovering what has worked in different contexts for different commodities, they take ownership of the radio programmes content and style.

The time spent in Tanznaia was an extremely positive start to the project and we look forward with great anticipation to the progress made by RSTGA & WATCO and to our future visits to Tanzania. In the coming weeks, the questionnaire will be rolled out across the 108 villages where the smallholders that supply WATCO live and it is hoped that the first radio programmes will air in May 2014.  Follow the progress of this project on this blog.

Linda Lisser

Responsible Sourcing Manager

Ringtons Tea

Farmer Radio in DRC – Presenter Interview

Our Radio presenter Jasmin talks of the Lorna Young Foundation’s radio outreach programme and how it is trying to improve women’s lives through cocoa in the DRC


Jasmin, LYF Radio Presenter in DRC

Jasmin is 27 years old, a student in Human Resource management, and the energetic radio presenter for the LYF programme that is broadcast to 1 million listeners on Wednesdays and Saturdays on Radio Graben in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In this interview, she tells us of her love of radio, the role of women and the opportunities that cocoa could bring.

Reminiscing, Jasmin explains to us why she became a radio presenter, ‘In the DRC radio is a massive form of media. Men, women and children will huddle around a transmitter in the evenings to get their news. I’ve loved listening to radio since I was a young child, and all my life I wanted to be a journalist, someone who could paint a picture with words and spin a good tale. You know in Africa, we love telling stories.’

Asked why she joined the Lorna Young Foundation radio programme, and what she most likes about the project, she told us, ‘I’ve worked as a radio journalist for 6 years. I joined the Lorna Young Foundation DRC cocoa project with IDAD because I wanted to enlarge my horizons, and this was my way of contributing to the communities in my region. What I really like about this project is that it reaches out to women. It gives women the opportunity to contribute to the family income and also develop themselves through cocoa as a cash crop. Women in the Congo and especially in Beni face huge difficulties, they have confidence issues, often they feel they do not have a voice. Traditionally people thought that women could only grow certain types of crop and lots of the cash crops were left to the men. This project helps them find themselves and perhaps helps them find a place in society. We also want to encourage these women, as mothers, to participate in the protection of the environment, to sensitise them and their children about the forest, to help them send their children to school.’

Our radio presenter Jasmin feels that the LYF programme gave her the opportunity to develop as a journalist, ‘I received training from the LYF presenter in Kenya to use a very precise methodology giving agricultural extension and making the programmes interesting for listeners.’ The project provided us with cameras, dictaphones, MP3 recorders, phones for listeners and more recently solar panel chargers for these very remote communities. However, Jasmin hastens to point out that, ‘Despite providing phones, SMS exchanges are still difficult due to illiteracy of women and so we have to encourage centres for reading and writing. This is a challenge, but the women who write an SMS go to one woman in the group who has been given a mobile and send their questions through her.’ Asked if she has any favourites in the listening group, she smiles ‘I do have my favourites… have you ever heard the interviews with Maman Fanic and Maman Jose?  They are straight talking and sharp and they are always encouraging other women to lift their heads and believe in themselves. Fanic is a widow and felt abandoned to her own fate after her husband died. Maman Jose, who is older and can’t read and write, always reminds listeners that if she can do it, so can others. This has really helped boost our listeners’ confidence.’

So has she seen any changes in the women? ‘Yes; absolutely! If you followed me on the 3rd programme, you can hear how freely they express themselves. We gave a workshop recently to train producers on how to set up their nurseries and those from the listening groups come and took part in the activity. This is the first time that I’ve seen a programme on cocoa targeting women and really reinforcing them in their capacity. Women call other women and it encourages them.’

They’ve had training; they’ve made a huge effort in following the programmes, setting up nurseries and taking care of their cocoa trees. It would be good to see them properly rewarded for their efforts through good quality and also good prices

individual care DRC cocoaDespite the positive effects that the project is having on women farmers, it is clear that women still underestimate themselves. This is largely a result of their role in society and at home.  Although they are working in partnership with their husbands much of the time, it is more often the man who benefits from the proceeds. Jasmin hopes that this project will help change that. Asked what her hopes are for the future of women from North Kivu who take up cocoa farming, she says, ‘I know it will have a positive impact for the beneficiaries. They’ve had training; they’ve made a huge effort in following the programmes, setting up nurseries and taking care of their cocoa trees. It would be good to see them properly rewarded for their efforts through good quality and also good prices.’

As for Jasmin, she hopes to continue working on sensitisation programmes which improve the role and participation of women in the community. ‘There should be a programme which just targets women and addresses the question of their role in society. Something to raise their confidence…In the same way that we are open to include neighbours of producers in the programme, it would be good to have local groups which could support women that are vulnerable.  Women living in a precarious situation, widows, mothers and older women who can’t fend for themselves.’

From her experience working on cocoa these last two years, Jasmin feels that people want to get behind cocoa and she wants to encourage them to grow it as a cash crop. ‘Mainly because it grows so well with other food crops. So that farmers can benefit from a good staple diet and have cocoa as a source of income, they can reap double benefits. Cocoa with its ability to grow next to other foods, bananas, maize, soya, beans, is the perfect agroforestry crop.’

As for what the future holds for Jasmin, ‘I will continue to work with projects alongside IDAD but I would like to do more programmes to promote the role of women. I would love to meet other presenters from other countries and to be part of an international team. I hope the LYF continues to help me develop these exchanges with other journalists and to discover new ways of doing things.’

New Tea Blend, Reviving Cross-Cultural Dialogue

Muslim-mayor-tea-merchant* Historic article – tea not currently created and supplied by the LYF – but if you are an interested tea company, feel free to get in touch with us! For the latest news on this project in 2019, see

One hundred and fifteen years after his death, the great-great-great granddaughter of Manchester tea merchant and Muslim convert, Robert ‘Reschid’ Stanley, is using tea to promote conversations to bring different cultures together. Inspired by the work of her ancestor, the LYF’s own Christina Longden and the LYF team, aim to launch a new tea blend, promoting cross-cultural dialogue in UK communities.

Extract from article in The Muslim March 2014

Born in 1828, Robert Stanley, a renowned tea merchant, grocer and Mayor of Stalybridge converted to Islam aged 69. As one of four converts in a Manchester-based community of 40 Muslims, Robert became a well-known and vocal advocate promoting a greater understanding of Islam across the UK and Vice-President of the Liverpool Muslim Institute (Britain’s 1st mosque).

Prior to his conversion, Robert had avidly followed the problems taking place further east, particularly in Turkey with the Russo-Turkish war. Letters that he wrote on the subject were even raised at parliamentary level in Westminster. Later, Robert wrote to the Ottoman Caliphate recommending that they could rebuild manufacturing and trade in the country if they were to send young men to England to study cotton and wool manufacturing techniques in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Robert Stanley in fez crop - CopyRobert also suggested to the Caliph that it would be wise to have an authentic and fresh translation of the Qur’an so that English people could better understand the teachings of Islam – the only translations available at that time being made by Christians.

Robert’s life and exploits were documented in ‘The Crescent’, a weekly record of Islam in England. The publication was the production of  the Sheikh ul-Islam of Britain  –  the country’s most famous white convert, William ‘Abdullah’ Quilliam. in

Amazingly Christina’s brother, Steven, Robert’ great x 3 grandson also converted to Islam – ten years before he was even aware of this amazing story and his familial connection to it!

Now, 115 years on, Robert Reschid’s great x 3 granddaughter, Christina, Director of the Lorna Young Foundation and Not Just a Trading Company is pleased to see a tea blend that remembers her remarkable ancestor.

Through Not Just a Trading Company (NJaTC), Christina, the team, and the youth enterprise groups, are importing direct from the growers a range of Fair Trade tea, coffee, chocolate and other ethical products that the youth enterprise groups market to learn business skills and generate income.

NJaTC is about to launch a new product – the Robert Reschid tea blend, with the aim of sending this tea out to various faith and community organisations for them to invite each other for tea and conversation.

We hope to raise £3,000 to make and send out 1,000 packs of tea to communities all over the UK, to promote cross-cultural dialogue.” You can support this project by donating here.

* NOTE – this is a historic article – tea not currently created and supplied by the LYF – but if you are an interested tea company, feel free to get in touch with us! For the latest news on this project in 2019, see

Trustee Profile – Julie Harrington

Our most recent Trustee, Julie Harrington, joined the LYF after spending several months supporting us through the Small Charities Coalition Skills Sharing Programme. Here is an extract of an interview with Julie by the SCC.

1. Your name:

Julie Harrington

2. Name of the charity you supported:

Lorna Young Foundation (LYF)

3. The match need:


4. How long did your match last?

Ongoing – taken up my first ever trustee role with the charity!

5.  Please describe your match experience and how it worked?

I have spent time with two directors, Ian and Christine and the small team at LYF to talk through the marketing of the foundation and clarifying the core fundraising proposition of the charity. We have done this via meetings, emails, sharing resources.

6. What did you learn both personally and professionally from the match?

It has been an excellent opportunity to get involved with the charity at a strategic level, to act as a soundboard for the directors about future growth plans and act as a kind of filter for ideas and strategy. I had no idea of the existence of the charity here in my home town and was delighted to learn all about LYF and its growing impact in the UK and overseas. After working as a fundraiser for 24 years, I have recently accepted a role as Trustee for the LYF – my first time ever as a Trustee.  I am hoping I can continue to contribute for the longer term in this capacity and help LYF to expand. They are an excellently competent team already – I just hope to offer additional time and resources that can help them move to another, more sustainable level.

7. What would you recommend about the matching service to other would-be supporters?

I have been privileged to work with some of the masters of fundraising over the years – organisations and individuals – and as you gather experience in the profession, this in itself becomes invaluable. The school of hard knocks counts for a lot! So Small Charities Coalition’s mentoring scheme is an excellent vehicle to be able to give back to the profession in a targeted way. Small charities are always resource limited and so saving them from going through a few of those hard knocks and expanding their resources with a bit of your time and your experience can be a great boost. But as a supporter, you also continue to learn. You gain mentoring skills and sometimes practice a mini kind of consultancy experience too. It’s fascinating to be involved from a purely interested party point of view too – none of the pressure of being an employee nor the responsibility as a Trustee. It has been a real happy, comfortable medium for me.

8. If you have any other comments please share them below

I first became aware of the Small Charities Coalition at a stand at the Institute of Fundraising and instantly thought it a cracking idea, a way to strengthen the fundraising profession and the sector. This was 2009 and  my first charity match (Bone Cancer Research in Leeds) was active for more than 18 months. In fact we still meet up for updates – it’s become a lovely habit. I recently helped them fill a vacancy by introducing them to an eminently suitable candidate who got the job – so I suppose when it goes well, they become part of your wider network and the relationship is ongoing.


First Climate Change Coffee to Protect World’s Forests

After a decade of working with small producers on climate related projects, our very own Cristina Talens – LYF International Programmes Manager, has now launched the World’s first climate-change gourmet coffee.


Source Climate Change Coffee Tin

Over the last 10 years, Cristina Talens has worked alongside thousands of small farmers, indigenous people and plantation workers in coffee, tea and cocoa in over 14 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. During that time she has seen first-hand the environmental and social impacts that climate change is having on agricultural communities which grow the UK’s favorite coffees.

Some 25-30 million hectares of the world’s forests are lost each year to illegal logging and clearing for agricultural land. Cristina says, ‘These forests act as giant carbon banks, when the trees are cut down, they release carbon into the air, thereby contributing to the global problem that is climate change. It is estimated that 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the continued destruction of the world’s forests.’

Now, to help save the world’s forests, she has created Source Climate Change Coffee, the first single origin gourmet coffee which incentivises small farmers to plant trees in these ecological hotspots. Source is today the only conservation-led coffee company which makes direct payments for reforestation carbon credits to ensure that every bag or tin that is sold is carbon neutral.

To find out more, you can contact Cristina through the LYF, or directly at Source Coffee.

Not Just a Great Youth Enterprise Programme

youth etnerprise - socent

Some NJaTC activities

We have been running our ethical youth enterprise programme for four years now – the last three years through our social enterprise Not Just a Trading Company.

So far, we have supported almost 200 young people, older people and unemployed people through our local enterprise groups and workshop programmes. They have gained invaluable business skills, and experience; between them, have created all of the quality fair trade products that now make up our branded range; they have earned thousands of pounds for their groups, won awards for their work and many have gone on to employment, self employment, further education, and one group even created their own community co-operative.

We are now running and supporting groups in Manchester, Oldham, Doncaster, Rotherham and London. We are working with a wide range of partners and organisations that are sponsoring and supporting local groups, including councils, youth development organisations and housing associations.

Two of our latest groups are running in Rochdale (with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing) and in Wakefield (with Youthworks); we thought we tell you about the impact the programme has had, through the words of two of the youth workers from our local partners RBH and YouthWorks:

“The young people involved are really enthusiastic about this project: some because they are passionate about the fair trade movement, others because they would like do their bit towards fundraising for a skate park locally.”

“The Rochdale group formed in April 2013 and they have bonded really well as a team and learnt a lot from becoming a group with different backgrounds…” 

“The ideas they have come up with have been inspiring, they have been able to use the skills they have learnt to work as a team to enable other organisations to see them as a serious business for them to invest in.”

“I have asked other staff from the housing association to talk to the group in the New Year about ‘business planning’ and ‘profit margins’.”

“I have absolutely enjoyed working with this group and hope what they have achieved from the ‘Not Just A Little Business’ will help them to gain their dream job in the future. They are full of ideas and hopefully they will be able to teach other young people from their experiences of this group.”

If you want to talk to us about our youth and community enterprise programmes, workshops and courses, we would love to hear from you; get in touch.

New Smallholder Support Network Leaflet

The LYF Smallholder Support Network (SSN) is now in its fourth year.

lyf-farmer extension-africa famers

LYF farmer training picture booklets

The LYF has been developing and running its Smallholder Support Network in Africa for three years now, and it is producing some amazing results. Launched in Kenya in 2010, the SSN now includes several core elements:

  • Weekly radio broadcasts (reaching millions of farmers)

  • SMS (text message) interactive service, enabling small farmers to text questions to the radio panels

  • Comprehensive training manuals available to local colleges to deliver face to face in farmer communities

  • Website for farmer co-operatives and NGOs to use to access information and advice

The SSN is now running successfully in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); in 2014, we aim to expand it in to tea farmers in Tanzania and to coffee farmers in Ethiopia.

Why not download the new SSN leaflet here SSN new leaflet Dec 13 .

Can Social Media Help Kenyan Youth in to Farming?

Social media platform helps share and exchange farming information and provides a marketing avenue for young and upcoming farmers

(extract from an article in the Nairobi Business Monthly Sept 13)

LYF Kenya

Joseph in Kenya

Joseph Macharia is probably most well known for developing the hybrid of a stingless bee when he worked at the international scientific research institute ICIPE (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology) in 2011. But he describes himself as a farmer, and asserts that his passion has always been  farming, whether socially, education wise or with work. And indeed he is one with three dairy cows and a small coffee plantation in Nyeri.

His enthusiasm for a sector that many Kenyan youth shy away from runs so deep that Macharia decided to broaden the appeal of agriculture among the country’s youth by engaging with them through the social media platform of Facebook.

He started the Mkulima Young Facebook page six months ago, and complemented it with the Mkulima Young website where farmers exchange information and market their produce. This, he says, was driven by the fact he wanted to pull the youth into farming because it is being viewed as an after retirement activity.

“The average farmer is 65 years old. In Kenya it is normal for one to be given livestock and other farming apparatus as retirement gifts. This classification of farming as an old man’s affair has to stop and what better way to do that than reach out to the youth via social media where they are most comfortable,” Macharia says.

Macharia, who is in his mid 30s, adds that young people might engage in farming if they were given the right information and inspiration. His decision to reach them through a social media platform, he explained, was because many of the youth were in their element when online or on Facebook, and as such would feel comfortable in seeking assistance and in sharing, selling and buy produce.

The Facebook page he set up, therefore, is aimed at reaching youthful farmers and those that aspire to venture into the field.

“The reason why I’m targeting the youth is because they are innovative and willing to learn. And also because I’m hoping that we can move away from conventional farming, embrace the use of technology and try to grow other crops apart from the traditional ones,” Macharia explains.

In just six months, the digital farmers’ hub has risen to over 17,000 members and is attracting graduates and school leavers into the agribusiness sector. On this same platform, success stories are shared to motivate members.

Macharia was surprised by the high interest that the page registered, but is confident that he will be able to provide quality information on these platforms because he can track the needs of these digital farmers and respond accordingly.

He works with a team of three who together track comments and questions and generate responses. The web page complements the social media page and creates an avenue for those that want to start a business and those who want to buy or sell agricultural produce. The two avenues together have seen youth who previously could not access markets earn thousands of shillings via the online platform.

Macharia also hosts a radio program called Mkulima Young on Kikuyu station Coro FM, in an attempt to reach the youth through broadcast media. The show is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation

Tackling Unemployment Through Fair Trade Community Enterprise


Participants in the LYF Not Just A community enterprise workshops at their stall in Manchester

Right now we are all a mixture of sadness AND excitement! How is this possible? Well, our very first short-term ‘Ethical Enterprise Course’ has come to an end.  But the positive bit for us has been seeing the incredible changes in the lives, aspirations and the new social enterprise drives of all of those who have attended the course.

Supported by an ESF Community grant through the WEA, we delivered a 10-workshop course, using our successful ‘Not Just a Community Enterprise’ learning model. We wanted to help create some new ideas for The Oromo Coffee Co social enterprise – as well as helping local people back into work. We named our course ‘Equality and Unity’ and designed a bite-size course for people who are unemployed in the Tameside (east Manchester) area.

Over 10 sessions – and 5 ‘practice sales/work experience’ opportunities, the group learned how to set up and run a community-based social enterprise with a ‘fair trade focus’ – and one which used The Oromo Coffee Company as a great hook on which to hang this very practical series of workshops.

LYF-social enterprise-coffee

One of the LYF Community Enterprise participants running the stall at Chorlton Coffee Festival

We deliberately created a course where the content and pace was set by the learners themselves, where it was tailored to their own interests and learning needs and where we had the minimum amount of stuffy classroom-based sitting and listening to the likes of us drone on!

As well as learning about the basic components of running a fair trade community enterprise, some of the fantastic learning events which the participants were involved with included:

  • Visits to Unicorn Wholefoods in Chorlton cum Hardy and a crafts co-operative in Saddleworth

  • Running a Coffee/Cake and Crafts stall at the Chorlton coffee festival

  • Running a stall at Saddleworth ‘Yanks’ weekend

  • Running a stall at New Charter Housing Association community fair

For the LYF, one of the key aims of this course was to bring different communities in Tameside together in the name of ethical enterprise and supporting each other in employment opportunities.  Being unemployed can crush the soul – and our work at the LYF has always proven to us that people who are marginalised in this way are eager to be able to support those who are also struggling in poverty – those in developing countries and whose lives are blighted by exploitation within the trading system.

We certainly feel that we have succeeded in our new venture and we were over the moon to receive some of the comments back from course participants – such as:

“It’s really helped me – more than anyone I have received advice from – to truly set up a business. I’ve learned how to price things properly – and fairly. Before I was too shy about it and wouldn’t ask for enough for all of the work that I put into my crafts.”

“I came to this course knowing nothing about social or ethical enterprise. But now I know how to begin one. And I understand my own drives in terms of the kind of causes I want to help in setting up a social enterprise. Of course I need to be able to support my own family too  – but I’ve now got some solid plans…”

“English is my second language and I was so worried I wouldn’t understand it all. But I have loved having this learning for free. I just thought that this course would help me make my CV look nicer and maybe get another cleaning job – but I am flying now. I truly appreciate it. I cannot believe the support and help I have had from all group members in setting up my own little business and the other day when we held a stall together – I sold out of all of my products and had to ask for more to be brought in. Yes I am so very positive for my future now.”

We would like to finish by thanking the Workers Education Association (North West) who administered the ESF grant which helped us to run this course and also to give a huge clap on the back to Chandan Mistry and Nic Carter from the Health & Wellbeing team at Tameside Council who provided some fantastic support. To New Charter Housing Association too  – who are seeing the huge potential in working with The Oromo Coffee Company and who are clearly proud of the commitment of their Oromo and non-Oromo residents!

So, if anyone else would like one of these bite-sized courses running with a community group – get in touch.

LYF at Oromo Community Gathering

oromo kids bolton 2Many followers of the LYF will know that back in 2008, we helped set up the Oromo Coffee Company with a group of Oromo refugees from Ethiopia who had been resettled in the UK.

Since then, the OCC has continued to grow and establish itself as one of the UK’s most innovative and progressive coffee companies – a non-profit social enterprise, owned and run by members of the Oromo refugee community. As well as selling high qaulity, Fairtrade and organic coffees from Ethiopia, the OCC is actively engaging in community development work in the UK, helping Oromos and local communities to learn about setting up and running a community enterprise, seeing the value of social enteprise and working for the benefit of the wider community both in the UK and back in Ethiopia.

This week we joined the OCC at a gathering of the England Oromo Community, set up to help Oromo people resettled in the UK to celebrate and promote their culture and identity. Some inspiring community leaders spoke about how important it was for the Oromo community in the UK to intergrate, to establish itself within the wider community, but to also ensure that, young Oromo people in particular, are able to learn their mother tongue language, understand their cultural heritage and what led them to flee their homeland.

It is great to see the Oromo Coffee Company becoming well-established both in the market-place and amongst the Oromo community across the UK. Onwards and upwards…..