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In the middle of Fair Trade fortnight, Birmingham medic Dr David Nicholl offers an inspirational tale which proves that individuals can make a difference - not only to those around them, but to others in far-flung parts of the world.

We all know that there is a direct link between poverty and ill health, so in the middle of “Make Poverty History” in 2005, I e-mailed my catering manager, Keith, about the possibility of getting Fair Trade produce into the NHS.

After all the NHS is the UK's biggest employer with over 1 million employees, so if we could get just SOME of those people drinking Fair Trade tea and coffee that would make a tremendous difference to poverty (and as a consequence ill health) in the developing World.

“Can't do it- all our suppliers have to be PASA approved”, Keith replied- ie pass all the NHS red tape.

As regular ‘Stirrer' readers will realise, this was like a red rag to a bull, so I e-mailed our hospital chaplaincy team and together we e-mailed Mark Britnell- then the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's chief executive.

He didn't reply- so I e-mailed the entire hospital trust and asked if they wanted Fair Trade produce in the staff canteen. 99% of almost 400 respondents voted for it. I e-mailed Mark Britnell the results and he announced how supportive he was of Fair Trade and Make Poverty History.

Now every banana at UHB is a Fair Trade banana and hundreds of fair trade cups of tea and coffee are sold through Fair Trade vending machines at Selly Oak and the QE.

As for Keith our catering manager- I think he is a top banana!

In this Fair Trade fortnight, what are YOU having for lunch?"

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