Oxfam helped over 11 million people despite challenging financial year

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- Short URL: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/mc/pyen87/

Oxfam helped over 11 million people last year with life-saving and life-changing support and received an overall income of £367.4 million, according to its 2019/20 annual report published today.

In 2019/2020, Oxfam provided emergency aid to 9.6 million people affected by conflict and disaster. Working with local partners, the aid agency helped over 800,000 people in the wake of Cyclone Idai, which tore through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March 2019, as well as helping people affected by ongoing humanitarian crises in Yemen and Syria and supporting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Income in 2019/20 fell by £30 million, excluding legacies which had a one-off, exceptional level of income in the previous year. This was due to a number of factors including a challenging year on the high street and changing patterns in charitable giving.

Oxfam expects the coronavirus pandemic, which hit in the final weeks of 2019/20, to have a significant impact on income in 2020/21. In response, Oxfam completed an organisational restructure to deliver cost-savings and launched a new strategy to ensure maximum impact in tackling poverty while taking account of the financial outlook.

Oxfam’s Chief Executive, Danny Sriskandarajah, said: “Covid-19 compounded the challenges we were already facing, and we had to close our shops and cancel major fundraising events.

“At the same time, the impact of the pandemic on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people means our work is more vital than ever.

“While the uncertainty continues, we are confident that our new strategy and the cost-savings we have introduced – combined with the generosity of donors, partners and supporters – will enable us to be more effective in tackling the injustice of poverty and building a radically better world.”

In 2019/20, Oxfam developed a new strategy to maximise its impact on poverty and inequality, focusing its work on issues and locations where it can make the biggest difference and increasing support for local partners as part of a deliberate shift of resources and decision-making power.

Since April, Oxfam has carried out an organisational restructure to ensure it is best placed to deliver these new strategic priorities as well as to provide the cost-savings necessitated by the fall in income and the impact of the pandemic. It has also introduced new retail and fundraising strategies to address the challenges faced on the high street and in charitable giving.

Since coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, Oxfam has responded in over 60 countries helping prevent and reduce the risk of infection and supporting people who have lost their income due to the pandemic.

As the war in Yemen extended into its fifth year, Oxfam continued to provide life-saving aid to some of the most vulnerable communities while also supporting the legal challenge that halted– at least temporarily – the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia which are fuelling the conflict.

The risks faced in delivering aid in conflict zones were sadly highlighted by the tragic deaths of two members of Oxfam’s Syria team, Wissam Hazim and Adel Al-Halabi, when their vehicle was attacked in February 2020.

As well as its life-saving responses to humanitarian crises, safeguarding continues to be a priority. Following the publication in June 2019 of the Charity Commission report into Oxfam’s failings in Haiti, Oxfam focused on delivering an Action Plan agreed with the Commission to improve its safeguarding policies, processes, recruitment and training to ensure that its work is carried out in as safe as environment as possible.

In 2019/20 Oxfam GB’s Safeguarding Team investigated 73 cases, reflecting the work done to increase awareness and improve reporting mechanisms so that people feel safe to report concerns, especially in its international programmes. Supporting survivors and whistleblowers to speak out against abuse and exploitation is vital in order to tackle the problem.

In Oxfam’s campaigning and advocacy, the Behind the Barcodes campaign led to improvements in working conditions in supermarket supply chains. Over 62,000 people participated in Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign, pledging not to buy new clothes for 30 days to help people and the planet.  The growing public interest in sustainability and in environmentally-friendly and ethical products was further reflected with sales of ethical new products at an all-time high, bringing in over £12 million.

Even before the impact of the pandemic, online sales had increased by over 13 percent for both donated goods and the Sourced by Oxfam range of ethical and sustainable products, The positive trend in online sales has continued in the run-up to Christmas, helping to alleviate some of the financial impact of shop closures during the lockdowns.

Sriskandarajah said: “We are very grateful to all our supporters who have continued to shop and donate to us throughout what has been an extremely difficult year for everyone.  Together with our staff and volunteers they have helped ensure that we continue our vital work in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world.”


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