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Archive for October, 2009

Working with volunteers, main positives: getting to meet and work with a rich cross section of the population, seeing people happy to be in work, watching skills and confidence develop, learning a wide range of management skills because your volunteers are so diverse, to pick a few.

Working with volunteers, main negatives: when they move on.

In the seven years I’ve worked for Oxfam, hundreds of volunteers have come and given of their time to help us in our work to alleviate poverty. Some work a few hours a week, some more, some stay a week, a month, a year, in some cases several years and longer. We are fortunate for get any contribution of time, happy for anyone to come over the door and ask to join the team. But inevitably people move on and your team changes and adapts.

This post is because a highly-valued member of our Saturday team is leaving to begin her Phd. We seriously considered trying to clone her before she left as she has a particular facility for sorting through donation at a speed that would make a manager dizzy. Hopefully she will find time to bring her personality and skill-set to a new charity in her new home.

So sad as we are to see volunteers go, we wish them the best. It’s the nature of the work, and that one, if farily considerable negative, is always far outweighed by the positives.

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I spent two very relaxing days in Manchester this weekend past and I made time to visit some Oxfam shops there, namely Oxfam Emporium and Oxfam Originals on Oldham Street. The emporium was unfortunately shutting by the time I got out of the clothes shop so I had to content myself with window browsing. Had I not spent an agonising half-hour in Originals vacillating over two excellent pairs of shoes which, however much I wanted them to, just didn’t fit, I may have found time to foot-browse both. Anyway I found the clothes store trendy and accessible, with superb stock-lines. It’s the first ‘Originals’ shop I’ve seen. Gets my thumbs up.

At the bookshop we’re in the little calm before the Christmas run-in. One thing we are really trying to punt is gift aid as it applies to donated stock.  A lot of customers are already familiar with this idea as it pertains to donations of money, but we (and a number of other charities) are now able to collect gift aid on books, music, bric-a-brac, whatever we sell. It’s a great scheme and it enables the shop to get 28p in the pound back. It’s extra money which goes straight into the kitty which means more to hand for our international work. So please be sure to fill out a gift aid form when you next donate to an Oxfam store. It’s very much worth the minute or two extra that it takes.

News from Oxfam:

The climate change page has been updated at the oxfam site. This is to recognise that December and Copenhagen are looming and it’s really, really crucial that information gets out about what’s at stake and that as many people as possible get mobilised to become involved. Ideas for contributing and getting motivated, including the excellent new pound-a-week idea, are laid out in an easily understood way.  Please visit folks.

Also, Jamie Hewlett, the artist behind Tank girl and Gorillaz, has painted a series of watercolours reflecting his experience of Bangladesh where he travelled recently with Oxfam.

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This Oxfam blogger is off work for a few days. This site may be static in that period. For all of you who just can’t bear to be without our informative, engaging, almost-daily offerings, well, grit your teeth. I will catch you up on bookshop and Oxfam news on Monday next week. Iguess you could re-read all the posts here in the meantime, get together, vote for your favourite, argue about your favourites, etc.  

OR,

you could ignore that nonsense and go do something for East Asia this week. Donate online or in the nearest Oxfam to you. We still need funds for essential work there.

Thanks all.

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But I need to reward curiosity, so let’s see…..good sales week, good sunday, dvd stock replenished, window display turned over, two entire filing cabinet drawers cleared (major achievenment this), healthy stream of donation coming in, 2 boxes worth of superb graphic novels accumulated….it’s all good today.

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Exciting news this. Scotland already has one of the finest (and totally free) arts and media magazines in circulation anywhere, The Skinny, so it’s great to see a couple of Glasgow Uni graduates establishing a specific focal point for the swathe of quality new writing in Scotland. Gutter magazine will cost £5.99 and be published at least twice a year. As far as I understand, submissions are open if you fancy measuring your writing against some very good authors. More info through the links below:

http://www.allmediascotland.com/spike/4497/25082009/New_Literary_Magazine_for_Scotland

http://www.theskinny.co.uk/article/97359-gutter-press

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I don’t believe I’ve seen this title in the shop before, quite scarce h/b copy of “Knots & Crosses”. Follow the link to the listing for more info:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Knots-Crosses-Ian-Rankin-The-Bodley-Head-1987_W0QQitemZ300350585558QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Books_Fiction_GL?hash=item45ee4a3ad6&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14

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The new unwrapped gifts went on sale this week in all Oxfam stores. There are no magnets this year, instead a slightly higher grade card with info and a space for a personal message. As always there are new gifts added to keep the range fresh. This year also sees the introduction of Flanimal gifts, 5 in total. Rather than pay for one specific item, these gifts fund areas of Oxfam’s work such as HIV/AIDS education or advocacy and campaigning. You can grab a catalogue in any store. More info @ http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped

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