Find out more
You are here:
Phil Broadhurst, manager of the Oxfam shop in Castle Street, Swansea, explains why he's welcomed more than 100 volunteers who have fled to the UK in search of a safer life.
About ten years ago, I started taking my children to a drop-in centre where families in Swansea could chat, eat and play with families seeking asylum here. They did the classic kids' thing of not seeing any difference between themselves and the kids there - if only the rest of the world was like that! And as I spoke to people who said they were bored or lonely but couldn't work while their asylum applications were considered, I thought, 'There's a great pool of volunteers here!'
More than 100 refugees and asylum seekers have volunteered in the shop since then. When they're here they're people, not asylum seekers or refugees. That's a very simple sentence but it means
an awful lot. I think not being defined by their situation is what often matters most. I always say, 'If you hear anyone complaining about lazy asylum seekers, tell them to come into our shop!' People tend to be very determined and make excellent volunteers. It makes my job more interesting and more fun to be surrounded by people from around the world, too. We were part of a really good community campaign after one volunteer, George, was suddenly taken with his family to a detention centre. All the
regulars knew him but didn't necessarily know his situation. We got more than 3,000 signatures and he was eventually released. I think a lot of people stopped and thought about the asylum process at that point. It showed how a community campaign can really make a difference.
We run all kinds of events to bring people together and raise awareness, like coffee mornings, arts events and our Common Language evenings, where we get people together to share basic phrases in their language. As one volunteer from Eritrea said to me recently, language just connects people.
We were the first shop in the UK to be recognised as a 'Shop of Sanctuary'. It's a scheme that shows your commitment to welcoming people who are seeking refuge here. It gives everyone involved in the shop - wherever they are from - a great sense of pride for being part of something open and welcoming in the community.
Wherever Oxfam works in the world, we look to engage in local communities. I don't think shops should be any different. We're doing something that should be completely ordinary, but isn't. I want people to see what we're doing and copy it.
How does my support help end poverty? Take a peek at Inside Oxfam and discover how we help communities bounce back from disaster.
Stories from our work in emergencies around the world, see how you are saving lives.
The tax African countries lose because of personal wealth hidden in tax havens could pay for enough teachers to educate every child in Africa.
“We’ve all got the power to change the world.”
Meet Sue Greenwood who lost a leg in the 2005 London bombings. One year later, she took part in our Trailwalker 100km walking challenge.
Oxfam supporter Roger Saunders took to the skies to celebrate leaving a gift to Oxfam in his Will.
Stories of hope in a changing climate. Here are just a few of the many stories showing how your support is helping people improve their future, despite the changing climate.
The author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time travels to Ethiopia with Oxfam.
Meet five amazing women who are giving their families and communities the strength to survive.
For the first time, a team of refugee athletes will compete under the Olympic flag.
... Read more
In accepting the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Charity Awards 2016 our Chief Exec Mark Goldring... Read more
Michelle Layden is a volunteer in our Bookshop on Glasgow's Victoria Road and here she tells... Read more
© 2016. Oxfam is a registered charity in England and Wales (no 202918) and Scotland (SC039042).
Oxfam GB is a member of the international confederation Oxfam.