We are working hard to safely re-open all our shops across the UK by the end of the month – with new safety measures in place to protect shop staff, volunteers, and supporters.

Martin, Anneke and Fran outside the Didsbury shop with the Oxfam handwashing station

As part of our re-opening, we sent some next generation Oxfam handwashing stands to the Didsbury Oxfam shop and the Oxford Superstore.

Shoppers there can wash their hands and learn more about how we are providing vital support to people living in poverty worldwide, helping stop the spread of coronavirus.

Our shop network is vitally important to our work fighting poverty and we are delighted to be able to start reopening our high street shops. This will be done in phases and we hope to be able to open as many shops as possible by the end of July.

We are closely following government guidelines, The Charity Retail Association and other charities in how they are adapting to the coronavirus to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect our staff, customers, volunteers and donors.

Find out which shops are reopening

Last week, our Volunteer Resourcing Manager, Matt, showed us some safety measures we are taking in our shops.

Here’s how our volunteers and staff are getting on with safety measures and managing this ‘new normal’ as they start to come back to their shops.

✅ 1. Protective screens

Image: Peter Higgs/Oxfam

“Our volunteers told us that they feel like they are in a fish tank behind the misty screen so we thought we would turn it into one! Snorkel, mask and flippers available!”. Peter Higgs, shop manager, Sevenoaks

To minimise contact, we have installed plexiglass screens all around our till areas. The Gift Aid barcodes can be scanned through the screen and we’re encouraging customers to pay by contactless (there is no minimum spend).

✅ 2. PPE for all staff and volunteers including disposable gloves and face masks

Volunteer, Sally in the Cheltenham shop. Image: Matt Croxall/OxfamGB

“I’m extremely happy to be back at the shop and getting back into my routine of volunteering for Oxfam. I feel safe and wanted. Which is nice!” Sally, Oxfam Cheltenham volunteer

✅ 3. Hand sanitiser stations

Gemma, shop volunteer using the hand sanitiser station. Image: Vimal Shah/Oxfam

“I live in Bristol but Northampton is my main home, and whenever I return I always like to spend some time helping in my local Oxfam as I have done for many years, and especially during these times when I know the shop needs as much help as possible. I enjoy window dressing and making up outfits which I have done for there re-opening” Gemma, Oxfam volunteer, Northampton shop.

✅ 4. Social distancing markers

Image: Laura Ambler/Oxfam

We are adhering to the government advice and have 2 metre distance markers on the shop floors wherever possible.The number of customers allowed inside the shop at one time is being managed by each shop, as it will depend on the size of the shop. Some shops are using a basket system – where they provide each customer with a basket and once all the baskets are gone, a one in one out system comes into place.

✅ 5. Isolating donations

In line with new government advice, donated items are being stored for 48 hours before volunteers can process them.

Storage space may be limited, so we have some tips for you to keep safe and make the most of your generous donations:

1. Clean things. Wherever possible, put clothes and textiles through the washing machine and wipe down solid surfaces

2. Have a think about what items we can sell. Ask yourself, “Would someone I know buy this?” If the answer is “Yes”, we’d love to receive it.

3. Call ahead when you’re ready to donate, to check the best time for your local shop. Some of our shops are using a booking system so they can gauge the amount of donations coming in and enable you to book a slot. We kindly request that donations are not left outside our shops when they are closed.

4. Stagger your donations, rather than bringing everything at once. We appreciate not everyone has lots of storage space and we’d be delighted to help you clear the clutter from your home whenever the time is right. Remember to bring your donations in bags or boxes that you don’t want back.

5. Remember to Gift Aid your donation, this scheme allows charities to claim 25% extra on the sale of your donations. With Oxfam’s Tag Your Bag scheme we will also let you know how much money your items have raised for our work which includes supporting people facing the coronavirus around the world – so don’t forget to Tag Your Bag!

✅ 6. A full risk assessment for all returning volunteers

All shops will be asked to complete a comprehensive risk assessment ahead of reopening. There is also a training checklist to be run through with each individual volunteer when they return.

Passion for photography, love computers, customer service or finding treasure? We’ve got a volunteering role for you.

Oxfam Emporium volunteers pose outside shop. (L-R: Amarita, Rachael, Biboloki, Karenza, Lily and Jess)

Volunteering in an Oxfam shop is a wonderful way to be part of your local community, make friends and learn new skills. By giving your time to support Oxfam’s work you are protecting some of the world’s poorest people from the spread of coronavirus.

Each shop typically relies on a team of 30 volunteers, alongside one or two staff members, to be open for business.

The recent crisis has meant that some of our regular volunteers aren’t able to come to our stores for the moment.

We are receiving a lot of donations after lockdown. That’s why we’re appealing to people to volunteer to help get our shops back up and running this summer.

The safety and wellbeing of our volunteers is paramount to us. Not only in relation to the coronavirus but also in the way we support you throughout the volunteering experience at Oxfam. We welcome volunteers from all backgrounds and we know that some volunteers have specific needs that will be assessed by their Shop Manager to ensure they can do their work comfortably and with the right level of support.

Those shielding must remain at home, following the government’s advice.

We are also looking into ways to enable volunteers to work from home, including exploring options for volunteers to write product descriptions and price research at home.

At the Oxford Superstore we’re looking for volunteers to join our friendly online and weekend teams. Whether it’s for a short time or long time we’d love your help.

If you’d like to join one of our volunteering teams, please apply online.

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