12 Reasons to Volunteer with Oxfam
Oxfam’s work fighting poverty is crucial, and none of it could happen without our dedicated team of volunteers. People just like you.
Volunteering benefits go both ways – helping others can be the best way to help ourselves.
By volunteering, you'll meet new people and build new strengths. There are many more reasons to volunteer with Oxfam – we've listed 12 reasons to volunteer below.
You can give as little or as much time as you like, just chat to your local Oxfam shop manager about what’s right for you.
Meet new people
Volunteering in an Oxfam shop is a great way to meet some amazing people. People united by a common cause. There are people from all walks of life, including a wide range of backgrounds and age groups, who you might not otherwise get a chance to meet in your professional and social circles. Finding the things you have in common could just surprise you!
It brings out the best in you. Plus, it's another social life from your family or work, it's another social circle. I love it.”
Lynn, Oxfam volunteer, West Wickham Oxfam shop
It's good for your health!
Volunteering is linked to better physical, mental and emotional health. It keeps you in contact with other people. And feeling more socially connected can reduce stress, depression and isolation. For elderly volunteers, volunteering can promote wellness by keeping mobile and active – though we are committed to accommodating a range of abilities at our shops. And you only need to do what you can.
Help the planet
Oxfam shops help to reduce and recycle waste. With your help, we divert 47 million items of clothing from landfill every year. We also strive towards developing ethical and sustainable supply chains for our Sourced by Oxfam range. So when you volunteer with us, on the one hand, you are raising funds to help people around the world fight the climate crisis. And on the other, you’re helping tackle the causes of pollution and over-consumption head-on.
I really like shopping second hand. So seeing all the second hand items and sorting through the donations, it's really fun to me because I just think well, this would be like five times the price on the high street. And it's just so satisfying for me reducing waste and reducing my environmental impact.”
Sarah, from the Oxfam West Wickham shop
As a volunteer, there's no pressure to have any professional skills. So it’s a great opportunity to try out new things in an environment where help and guidance are always available. Interacting with other volunteers as well as customers can help boost your self-confidence. And you can be proud to know you’re helping transform the lives of people living in poverty with every shift.
Get professional experience
You don’t need any previous experience to start volunteering. But you can gain some experience by volunteering! This valuable professional experience looks great on your CV. Or your UCAS form if you’re a student. And it can count towards the volunteering section of your Duke of Edinburgh award. Volunteering helps to show that you’re truly motivated to help others without a financial incentive. It’s a great sign for any employer.
Always working to help
Oxfam has come a long way since opening the UK’s first charity shop in 1948. We’ve learned from our volunteers, the people we work with and our partner organisations. Together, we've helped tackle crisis, conflict and poverty. Oxfam is responding to more than 25 emergencies worldwide at any given time. Last year, we helped over 12 million people fight poverty, alongside 3500 partner organisations in 67 countries. So you know that the money you help raise goes directly to the people who need it most.
Find a new interest
You might pop into Oxfam with an interest in fashion and textiles. Or a passion for rare books. And leave with detailed knowledge of antique jewellery, or classic vinyl. There’s so much variety to what we stock. And so much knowledge shared between our volunteers. You’re bound to pick up something you didn’t know before. Find something fascinating amongst the donations. Or uncover a curiosity for something completely new!
Join our community
Our shop volunteers are at the heart of our international community, a powerful movement of people united by one goal – to end poverty, for everyone. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by a constant stream of bad news. But volunteering can help you feel connected with everything that Oxfam, and all our partners, are doing to make things better. Because you’re part of the team that’s making it happen.
Radka Dolinska / Oxfam
My favourite thing is helping other people, it’s like a family.”
Oxfam Shop Volunteer, Wagayu.
Make the most of your skills
We love to make the most of our volunteers’ potential, whatever your hobby or professional knowledge! Maybe you have a great artistic eye for creating beautiful displays. Maybe you’re savvy at online selling and could help list items for our online shop. Anyone who loves to chat would be great at engaging and welcoming our customers. Whatever your strengths, we’re keen to help you use your skills and experience to the best of your abilities.
Radka Dolinska / Oxfam
I was given quite a lot of freedom to do the visual merchandising, so I gained a lot out of that. Its really nice to be given the creative freedom, you wouldn’t really be able to get that anywhere else. It’s quite fun really.”
Jess, Oxfam volunteer
Find the role that suits you best
A lot goes into the day to day running of our shops, depending on the location, size and type. We have around 550 high street shops in the UK. 120 are dedicated to books, and others to music, so you can choose what kind of donations you’d prefer to work with. We rely on volunteers to sort, price and display donations, to research rare items, to work the tills, and to keep things neat and tidy.
Depending on location, you could also list items on our online shop. We also have more specific roles – our social media volunteers help raise awareness of campaigns, administration support volunteers keep our shops running smoothly, and lead volunteers help managers to lead shops. So find your best fit, and get stuck in!
Discover hidden gems
Oxfam is a great place to find rare and unusual items. If you're already something of a charity shop 'magpie', you'll love the chance to handle and research some really unique vintage, antique and designer pieces. You might even find some bargains for yourself!