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Making it happen: the programme. The multicultural project.

Published Article
Links : a newsletter on gender for Oxfam GB staff and partners
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1996
PMID: 12347694


Oxfam UK/Ireland's Trading Division has initiated steps to increase the number of volunteers from Black and ethnic minority groups. Carol Schofield, regional volunteers manager for the Midlands, with the support of her manager and colleagues, and of 13 local councils, surveyed shops in English Midland cities. First, the reasons for change, and how such changes would fit into the mission and mandate of the organization, had to be demonstrated. It was found that volunteering in the United Kingdom was traditionally done by White middle class women; before Black women could be convinced to volunteer for Oxfam UK/Ireland, the relevance of charity shop work to their lives currently in Britain would have to be demonstrated. More proactive measures would be needed for approaching ethnic minority communities. Ms. Schofield and colleagues, using the Trading Division's strategic plan, first convinced management to acknowledge that Oxfam UK/Ireland's rhetoric did not conform to reality. Primary and secondary research were used to quantify the costs of lacking custom from local ethnic populations. Nandkumar Jogiya, a Black outreach worker, was appointed by the Trading Division to work on a 2-year pilot project. During the first 6 months, he spoke with youth groups, women's development groups, temples, and others. Response from the Leicaster communities was generous; income increased by 10%, and the amount of donated goods rose by 25%. Ethnic minority volunteers work in the shop, and a young Muslim woman has been recruited to replace Nandkumar when he leaves. Since project research has revealed that 20% of Oxfam UK/Ireland staff are recruited from its volunteer force, it is expected that staff will also be more representative of the percentages of ethnic groups in the UK.

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