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Media advisory: Oxfam's 75th anniversary

Posted by Melanie Kramers Senior Press Officer

2nd Oct 2017

Credit: Steve Ashley / Oxfam

Oxfam thanks supporters for generosity to world's poorest over past 75 years

On Thursday Oxfam marks 75 years since its founding on 5 October 1942 by a small group concerned about civilians caught up in the battles of World War Two. The 'Oxford Committee for Famine Relief' called for the Allied blockade to be relaxed so food could reach starving people in Greece and Belgium, and raised money to help them.

Thanks to the generous support of the British public, Oxfam has worked since then to help people hit by disaster and make poverty a thing of the past for millions around the world. Its British headquarters are still in Oxford but over time it has grown into a global confederation working in more than 90 countries. 

Last year Oxfam helped more than 22 million people worldwide, providing emergency aid in humanitarian crises and running long-term development projects to help poor communities improve their lives. At the same time, Oxfam campaigns for action to tackle poverty's root causes including climate change, inequality and discrimination against women. 

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB, said: "Our work providing life-saving aid and standing up for the rights of the world's poorest people would simply not be possible without the compassion and support of the British public. We want to thank everyone who has so generously given their time and money over the decades to help Oxfam - from donating to appeals and signing petitions to volunteering in shops. 

"The world has taken huge strides forward in improving the lives of the poorest. But millions of children still die each year from preventable diseases and one in nine people go to bed hungry every night. We can end extreme poverty for good - but only if governments and businesses act to raise standards and build fairer systems to ensure no one is left behind."  

Oxfam launched the UK's first-ever charity shop in 1948, in Broad Street, Oxford - a live donkey was among memorable early donations. It remains open to this day, part of a trading and recycling network of around 630 shops run by 23,000 volunteers and an online shop that together generated almost £18m last year to fight poverty and injustice around the world. 

Margot Edwards, 83, a volunteer in Oxfam's Gravesend shop since 1993, said: "I find it enjoyable meeting the customers whilst being able to help people in the poorest countries of the world because of the money we generate in the shop. I am inspired to keep going because the team is very friendly and very nice to work with. You need to have a sense of humour and be able to get on with people."

Margot was one of four long-term shop volunteers with nearly sixty years of service between them who visited Oxfam's work helping refugees and migrants in Greece to mark the 75th anniversary. The group were selected to see the impact of donations to Oxfam's Refugee Crisis Appeal, which also helps people in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. 

Oxfam in numbers

  • 15 litres - the minimum amount of water per day that someone needs in an emergency. Oxfam's engineers drill wells, truck in water and distribute specially-designed buckets with a lid and tap, so people can collect and store clean water that won't make them sick.
  • 31,000 - Oxfam volunteers around the UK who work in shops, campaign at festivals, run marathons and organise Oxjam gigs to raise money for our work fighting poverty. 
  • 450,000 - people in the UK who gave a regular donation to Oxfam in the last financial year (2015/16). 
  • 8 million - people in the UK estimated to have backed the 2005 campaign to Make Poverty History. Oxfam played a key role in this coalition campaign which helped to persuade world leaders at the G8 to increase aid and cancel the poorest countries' debt.
  • £65 million - the amount of Oxfam Unwrapped virtual gifts sold since launch in 2004. Buying a goat to help a family in poverty earn a better living is one of our bestsellers.

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For more details or to request an interview with Oxfam staff or volunteers, please contact Melanie Kramers: / +44 7825 088894 or Maria Jeffery: +44 1865 472302 / +44 (0)7810 814980 /

More Information

Photo collection - including archive material available for download
Footage: selected clips available for download 

For more information about the volunteers who visited Oxfam's refugee work in Greece please contact Lisa Rutherford: / +44 7917 791836

Blog post written by Melanie Kramers

Senior Press Officer

More by Melanie Kramers