Oxfam helped more people last year, despite Covid-19 challenges

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Oxfam helped over 13 million people in 2020/21 - two million more than the previous year - despite an overall income drop of £32m to £344m due to Covid-19 restrictions in the UK, according to its annual report published today.

With the pandemic pushing millions more people into poverty, Oxfam has worked with communities and partners around the world to help protect people from both Covid-19 and its economic fallout.

In Gaza, Oxfam supported quarantine centres with clean water, beds and hot meals and in Kenya, cash assistance was provided to people who had lost their income due to lockdown. An appeal in the UK raised £1m for Oxfam India to provide personal protective equipment, oxygen tanks, beds and other vital medical equipment to hospitals and health facilities.

The pandemic had a significant impact on income with Oxfam’s network of nearly 600 shops closed for almost seven months and many major fundraising events cancelled. However, these losses were partly offset by increases in other areas. Oxfam supporters raised nearly £24m through donations, fundraising and appeals - an increase of over £5m from the year before – while online sales grew by 46 per cent, to £7.6m.

To continue its work with people facing poverty, Oxfam drew on its reserves and on Covid-19 related support available from the government. In order to rebuild reserves and maximise impact, costs have been reduced in the UK and new engagement and retail strategies are in place to grow future income.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB Chief Executive said: “As Covid-19, climate change and conflict continue to increase hardship and poverty around the world, Oxfam’s lifesaving and life-changing work is more needed than ever. Despite financial and logistical challenges related to the pandemic, I am proud that last year we supported more than 13 million people to survive disaster and build a better future.

“We are hugely grateful for the generosity and compassion of people across the UK who make this work possible. I want to pay particular tribute to our amazing volunteers who were tireless in their efforts to raise funds online while our shops were closed.”

Collectively, in the first year of the pandemic, the Covid-19 response of the Oxfam global confederation reached more than 14 million people in 46 countries. Alongside this direct support, Oxfam helped establish The People’s Vaccine Alliance, to campaign for people in low-income countries to be protected. There are now over 80 members urging governments to back sharing the science of vaccines and treatments to manufacturers around the world.

Currently, more people are in need of humanitarian assistance than at any point since the Second World War. As well as helping people affected by the ongoing crises in Syria and supporting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Oxfam has provided food and clean water to over 56,000 people in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Oxfam continues to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, now in its seventh year, and to date has helped over three million people. Support includes cash assistance, the rehabilitation of water networks in villages and ensuring displaced people have access to emergency shelter, clean water and toilets. Sadly, a member of Oxfam’s Yemen team, Fathi Mahmoud Ali Salem Al-Zurigi, was killed in the country earlier this year.

In February, the Charity Commission recognised the progress made in strengthening Oxfam’s safeguarding systems and ended a period of statutory supervision. Work continues to improve safeguarding and change the culture to help prevent abuses of power and better protect all those with whom Oxfam works.

This year Oxfam’s Safeguarding Team investigated 48 cases, compared to 73 cases last year. The fall in the number of safeguarding reports and investigations is largely due to the impact of the pandemic.

Oxfam continues to implement its new organisational strategy launched last year and has been placing partnerships at the core of its work, while shifting power, money and decision making to the global South.

Sriskandarajah said: “This is a time of transition for Oxfam as we continue our efforts to keep people safe, to evolve our culture to be truly diverse and inclusive, and to make practical changes to how we operate in order to deliver our goals. We will continue to push for a more equitable world where everyone has the power to thrive, not just survive.”

Ends

For more information, please contact Lisa Rutherford on 07917 791 836 /lrutherford@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editor

Oxfam GB’s annual report 2020/21 can be downloaded here

Press contact

For comments, interviews, or information please contact Lisa Rutherford (Senior Press Officer – Inequality):