Like many charity shops, the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the volunteer numbers at Oxfam’s two stores in Bedford town centre.
Many loyal charity shop volunteers have not yet been able to return to their positions because they are vulnerable to the virus and are shielding.
As a result, the charity is reaching out to ask more people to volunteer to help fill roles left vacant in the pandemic.
Oxfam Bedford is looking for around 10 new volunteers to help in a variety of roles from sorting donations of fashion items and china or pictures, window dressing, working behind the till, sorting general donations, helping to list online items to managing social media.
Research by the Charity Retail Association suggests that up to half of the nation’s volunteers may be unable to return to their roles immediately.
Oxfam has a network of more than 500 shops nationwide, with the majority now open. Each shop typically relies on a team of 30 dedicated volunteers and one or two staff, with more than 20,000 volunteers required in total across all shops.
Shop manager Isobel Martin said, “Many of our volunteers cannot return to their roles due to shielding, public transport struggles and feeling unable to leave the house during the pandemic.
“We are appealing to anyone with time on their hands to help fill this gap. As a result of the coronavirus, many people’s plans have been thrown into disarray.
“For instance, work experience placements may have been cancelled leaving teenagers at a loose end, or older people with fewer commitments, so we are encouraging them to volunteer in their local Oxfam shop and learn new skills.”
Protecting staff, volunteers, and customers from Covid-19 remains the priority, so strict protocol, such as social distancing, readily available hand sanitiser, masks and gloves for staff, screens at tills, regular and frequent cleaning, and closed changing rooms, is standard in all stores.
Oxfam high street shops and the Oxfam Online Shop generate significant income for the charity’s poverty fighting work, including the coronavirus response.
Last year Oxfam shops raised £17.4m after costs for its work fighting poverty and helping people survive humanitarian emergencies.
Oxfam is working with local partners, governments and key UN agencies in 65 countries in response to the coronavirus crisis.
This includes preventive measures like distributing soap and building handwashing stations in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, delivering clean water, sanitation and hygiene in Zaatari camp in Jordan and providing beds, handwashing facilities and protective clothing in quarantine centres in Gaza.
For more information on volunteering in an Oxfam shop, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop in and speak to the shop manager.