‘Oxfam has opened up work opportunities for me’

At any given time Oxfam teams are responding to an average of 25 emergencies worldwide.  But our work begins here in Scotland – raising money through our network of shops supported by a dedicated team of volunteers.

Kenzie Thorburn is 22 and has been volunteering in the Oxfam shop in Haddington for nine months.  She chatted to the shop manager’s Pat Lemmon about how volunteering has helped her achieve her goals and grow her confidence. 

Tell us how you started volunteering in Oxfam.

I began volunteering when I was referred to the Ridge Project, a social enterprise based in Dunbar, which assists people to progress into paid employment. My worker, a lady called Gill, suggested I volunteered with Oxfam to gain experience working in retail and to raise money for a worthwhile cause at the same time. 

I have now been working at Oxfam for nine months as a customer service volunteer. I have become proficient on the till, something I never thought I would be able to do, and my confidence has grown tremendously. 

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I enjoy meeting new people and every day is different. I work with a mixed group of volunteers: people are of all ages and come from all sorts of different backgrounds.  We can always have a laugh together and we know that at the same time we are raising money for Oxfam’s work throughout the world. 

During my time at Oxfam, I appeared in a fashion show which the shop held in Haddington. A lady from a local dress agency donated 30 brand new bridesmaid and evening dresses, some of which appeared in our fashion show.   It was great fun and we raised over £1,200.  It’s something I will never forget doing. 

How has volunteering in Oxfam helped you?

I am currently applying for retail vacancies in our area and even applied recently for paid employment with Oxfam. Oxfam has empowered me to now go for these jobs; I feel I can now achieve anything. If someone asked me if they should have a go at volunteering, I’d say ‘yes go for it!’

Find out more about volunteering with Oxfam here. 

Profile gathered by Chris Park.