Oxfam Make it Happen in the community

Posted by Gurvinder Sidhu Media Officer - Midlands and South West

1st Oct 2013

Volunteers Making it Happen in Birmingham

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."  American author Helen Keller's quote summarises the atmosphere at the Oxfam Make it Happen summit which brought together up to 100 of our volunteers from across the UK in Birmingham on Saturday 21 September 2013. 

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." 

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." 

American author Helen Keller's quote summarises the mood at the first Oxfam Make it Happen summit, which took place last Saturday in Birmingham.

100 Oxfam volunteers who campaign and fundraise in communities across the UK came together to learn from each other, be inspired, find out more about Oxfam's work - and allow us to say a huge thank you to them for all that they do.

Between them these volunteers have supported Oxfam's campaigning and fundraising work in a whole host of ways - from lobbying their MPs and organising exhibitions, to hosting coffee mornings, pub quizzes and raffles.  Some campaign or fundraise by themselves and others are part of campaigns, fundraising or Oxjam groups. The one crucial they have in common is that they share Oxfam's name and work in their local communities.

Volunteers heard from Campaigns Director Sally Copley, highlighting the campaigns and fundraising successes of the year, including the UK's Government's commitment to commit 0.7% of GNI in overseas aid for the first time, and from humanitarian worker Jane Beesley who shared her experiences of meeting Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.  She talked movingly of meeting families in Lebanon in refugee camps, particularly of 12-year-old Reema and her hopes to return to school and her own country.

They also heard the tragic and inspiring story of David Grimason from Scotland who lost his son to gun violence and as a result become involved in the Control Arms campaign.  He has travelled the world, lobbied the UN, been all over the airwaves and was in New York in March when  a historic arms trade treaty which was agreed.  Fundraising volunteer Julie Hepplewhite from Shropshire also spoke at the supporter summit about her trip to visit Oxfam projects in Uganda which she said had changed her life. 

Clemetine Kellaway, 19, who is a shop volunteer at the Oxfam shop in Bramhall said: "It was quite an inspiring day.  Jane's speech and her account of meeting the 12-year-old girl Reema, in Lebanon struck a chord showing how important Oxfam's work is in Syria.  It has inspired me to get more involved in Oxfam's campaigns." 

66-year-old John Morris is a campaigner from central London who liked the professionalism and organisation of the day: "I thought it was a lovely event with a warm welcome for everyone.  The talks were useful and I really enjoyed Julie's talk on her experiences in Uganda, she really spoke to the audience."  

The day also included a Syrian inspired group photograph in Birmingham city centre, following which a man came up to the group.  With emotion he explained that he had just left Syria five days ago and was now living in Birmingham.  He saw the group photograph with Oxfam's Love Syria letters by chance and said: "Today, you make me happy thank you."   http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/how-to-campaign/find-a-local-campaign-group

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer-with-us/in-your-local-community#contact

Blog post written by Gurvinder Sidhu

Media Officer - Midlands and South West

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