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Our values

Our values have always remained the same but the way we work constantly evolves.



THEN £500,000 in hand luggage? How times have changed…

It seems unbelievable now. But in 1984, as it became clear how bad the famine was in Ethiopia, our water engineer Paul Sherlock had to move fast. "I got a call on Saturday saying: You have got to be out here now," he says. "I actually took half a million pounds on the plane with me on the Monday, partially in a cheque and partially in cash."

NOW ...we won't take your donations as hand luggage today!

But we'll still do whatever is needed to make sure help reaches the world's most vulnerable people - and we still move fast when crisis hits. Today, we're more likely to get money to poor communities via mobile phones, so people can buy what they need and help local businesses to recover. Innovations like that help communities in a way that wasn't possible before - so we can make an unprecedented difference, as together we push to end extreme poverty, once and for all.

THEN Greece C.1942

Greece, 1942

Oxfam started as a group of people concerned about the human cost of conflict - hunger, suffering and displacement. In 1942, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (now Oxfam) lobbied the government for the relaxation of the Allied blockade of occupied Europe, to ensure the supply of vital relief of civilians especially in Belgium and Greece.

NOW Macedonia 2016

Macedonia, 2016

75 years later, we're dealing with a crisis even bigger than that of the Second World War. Thousands of people worldwide stand with us, in solidarity with refugees. With their help, we'll keep doing what it takes to help families fleeing conflict rebuild their lives.

THEN Oxfam shop, 1948

Oxfam shop, Broad Street, Oxford, 1948

The first permanent Oxfam gift shop on Oxford's Broad Street opened its doors in 1948. We've been turning shopping into a powerful way to end poverty ever since.

Our first full-time shop manager Joe Mitty once told an audience of shop volunteers what his motivations were in those early days: "I had two words - rage, and passion. Rage because of the inequality and injustice in the world, and a passion to do something about it."

NOW Oxfam shop 2016

Oxfam shop, 2016

Today, there are around 650 Oxfam shops (and our bespoke online shop) which all play a crucial role in the fight against poverty, raising funds for emergency response, and development work all over the world.

THEN Cambodia 1979

Cambodia 1979

The first shipment of Western aid to Cambodia at Kompong Som in 1979, after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. While many other agencies were discussing whether they could or would work with the Vietnamese army to distribute aid, Oxfam's Jim Howard was on the ground making lists of supplies most urgently needed. The public responded generously to Oxfam's call for help, and on the 13th October 1979, a massive shipment of food, seeds, fertiliser, tools, equipment and vehicles was brought into the country.

NOW Cambodia 2013

Cambodia 2013

Oxfam's Pink Phones project in Cambodia involves the distribution of mobile phones to women in rural communities. The phones enable the women to gain access to vital farming information such as market prices for their crops and weather information that helps them plan when to harvest, all of which is sent by Oxfam. Before the project, women were not in a position of equality with the men in selling their crops and bargaining for their crops for the selling price. The information from Oxfam has given the women power and brought them to an equal footing.

THEN Ethiopia 1984

Ethiopia, 1984

The Ethiopia famine of 1984 shocked the world - after a BBC news report showed harrowing scenes of people going without food and clean water because of a catastrophic drought.

We saw a huge outpouring of generosity from the public - within months of that BBC report, Oxfam had received £12.5 million in donations. We massively scaled up our efforts to reach people in even the toughest places.

It was then that we developed the Oxfam Biscuit, in partnership with Fox's Biscuits in Batley, Yorkshire. The high energy nutritional biscuit was easier to digest for children and those who were weak from malnutrition.

NOW Ethiopia 2016

Ethiopia 2016

Since joining an Oxfam farming project, Kitabe is now running a thriving business. The money she earned from her first harvest of onion seeds was enough to buy a house, some land and livestock. And she's employing members of her community to help at harvest time too. Most importantly, Kitabe's family is now facing a brighter, more hopeful future.

"We are not scared now - we don't have food insecurity. The biggest thing I have learned is to be fearless, and I fear nothing now."

THEN Rwanda 1994

Rwanda 1994

Think of Rwanda, and your thoughts might turn to the genocide that devastated the country in 1994. We provided clean water and other life-saving essentials during those horrific events.

NOW Rwanda 2017

Rwanda 2017

But now, our work couldn't be more different. We're working with people like Valerie Mukangerero to build a livelihood and a future for their families.

Valerie grows and sells organic pineapple with the Tuzamurane cooperative. She says: "I feel proud that people respect me and say 'that woman is on top!'. The thing that makes me most happy is that I have joined others and when I earn money, I feel happy. I buy things that I need with no worry inside myself."