You will need
- Scrap paper
- Pens or pencils
- Wool or string
- World map
- Internet access (optional)
- Pins or sticky notes (optional)
Before you begin
- Have everyone bring along an item of clothing to this session. This can be anything in their wardrobe. If anyone is wearing something they can remove, they could use this. Bring along some spare items just in case.
- We’ve provided an example of a clothing supply chain in this activity, but it’ll be useful to find some more examples to use later. Here’s another example you could use.
Map your clothing
- Explain that the floor of the activity area is the world. Mark north, south, east and west.
- Have everyone take their item of clothing and stand on the part of the world that they think their garment comes from. This should be a guess, so no-one needs to look at labels!
- Once everyone has stood on their potential country of origin, they should take turns to state where they are and what they know about the country. When everyone has done this, they may check the label on their garment and move to the actual country of origin of the garment, if they were wrong.
- Everyone should look around them. See if there are any patterns formed from where people have stood on the map. Ask the group which countries seem to have produced the most clothes, and which the least.
Your jumpers’ journey
- Explain that clothes are produced along a global supply chain, like food and lots of other products. They pass through many factories, suppliers and warehouses before reaching shops. Have everyone move to the edge of the activity area and introduce the three stages of the supply chain:
- Everyone should think about the supply chain for a cotton, zip-up hoodie. Think about all the different materials used and where they’d need to be sourced from. Cotton, for instance, needs to be grown in cotton fields and harvested, while aluminium for making zips needs to be mined from underground.
- Get into small groups. Each group should take it in turns to set out their supply chain on the floor map. One person from each group should act as each link or step in the chain. Start with adding people for the primary steps to represent the raw materials, then add people for the processing and manufacturing, and finally the tertiary stage transporting and selling the product. See how many people it takes to complete the route from harvest to hoodie!
- Now that it’s clear how many steps there are between sourcing materials and taking a new hoodie off of its hanger, give a ball of wool or string to one of the people at the start of your supply chain. Holding onto one end, they should throw or pass the ball to the next person in the chain, so that the wool or string unravels. Continue until the wool or string reaches the end of the supply chain. You should now have a visual representation of the route the hoodie takes.
- Get into groups again of about five people per group. Give each person in each group a role, such as ‘factory worker’, ‘supplier’, ‘brand specialist’ or ‘retail assistant’.
- Tell each group that they have £30, which is what was paid for the hoodie in the shop. Each person from each stage of the supply route should make the case for how much they should be paid for their contribution. Discuss this in groups and then share answers to see who got the best deal.
- Gather together and talk about why most of the clothes we wear in the UK are produced somewhere else. Think about what can be done to make sure workers are paid and treated fairly. See if anyone can think of any simpler ways to make clothes that are more sustainable.
Clothes are very important to us. They show people what we’re all about. But the rise of ‘fast fashion’ (buying too many clothes and not wearing them enough) isn’t only causing environmental damage, it’s also putting too much strain on the global supply chains, meaning that poorer workers at the start of the chain are having to do more for less. As a global citizen, how does that make you feel? What if you or someone you know was one of those workers?
Everyone should think about the garment they brought along. It might be a cherished possession or a run-of-the-mill item of clothing. How often do you and will you wear the garment? Do you think that you’ll get your money’s worth? Think about where it was purchased from and how else you could’ve found such a garment without buying it new. Clothing swaps, kilo sales, second-hand/retro stores and charity shops often sell other people’s unwanted clothes, rather than buying in new ones. Why might this alternative be better for both the environment and workers in the supply chain?
- Active games
The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.
- Online safety
Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.
For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.
As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.