Photo credit: Paul Stead
By Khulani Nyathi
There are many ways you can get involved with Oxfam's work. One of our Constituency Campaigners tells us about their experience volunteering with us.
I have always had an intrinsic desire to be part of a movement whose values consist of fighting for global justice. Prior to being a constituency campaigner, my knowledge of Oxfam was limited to charity shops on the high street and humanitarian crisis appeals I saw on television. As my exposure to Oxfam was limited, I was under the impression that volunteering opportunities were limited to being a shop volunteer. This is not the case - whilst at Bestival I came across lots of stewards who were volunteering for Oxfam, so when I got back home I checked out the website
to see what else was available. A few clicks later I applied and was subsequently accepted to be a constituency campaigner. Eight months on, I am still volunteering as a constituency campaigner and have had a range of experiences which have given me an insight into the charity sector.
As a constituency campaigner you are invited to a training day and given resources on how to work with, and lobby Members of Parliament in order for them to exert what influence they have on issues which are relevant to Oxfam's goal of a world without poverty. You might be asked to send a letter to an MP - or speak to them at their surgery. Occasionally you get invites to parliamentary receptions and other events. You get to learn influencing skills and about the issues that Oxfam campaigns on.
You have the opportunity to gain skills and experience which can help prepare you for running really effective campaigns in the future.
What makes the programme attractive is that as a campaigner you do not represent Oxfam and so it's up to you how you go about campaigning. You have the opportunity to gain skills and experience which can help prepare you for running really effective campaigns in the future. For instance, I am particularly keen on coordinating training events for campaigners so, with that in mind, I applied to join the Oxfam Representative's scheme. Using the training materials from the Representatives Scheme as well as my skills from the Constituency Campaigner Programme, I
felt confident enough to deliver a workshop to sixth form politics students about lobbying MPs. And a fellow Campaigner, Lottie, who wants to work on conflict management, wrote a blog about the conflict and crisis in Yemen which Oxfam posted on their website. Other campaigners have been invited to attend events in Parliament, hand in petitions, and take part in focus groups that help shape Oxfam's campaigns. These opportunities are valuable in learning about how campaigning works, how charities function and most importantly, help make a positive difference to the lives of
those living in poverty.
To find out more about how you can get involved go to:
Oxfam's Constituency Campaigner Programme, Oxfam's Representative's Scheme or Volunteering at Festivals.