Volunteer spotlight: Lydia from Oxfam Shop

Oxfam Shop, Volunteers article written on the 03 Jun 2015

Lydia. Photo: Lara McKinley/OxfamAUS

All Oxfam Shops are now closed. We sincerely thank you for your ongoing support, creating real change for people living in poverty. You can continue to shop Oxfam Unwrapped gifts and Oxfam fair coffee online.
– September 2019.

 

Lydia started volunteering in an Oxfam shop in Melbourne, and now puts her creative skills to work as the design and marketing intern for Oxfam Shop.

Here’s Lydia in her own words:

I first started working with Oxfam as a Christmas casual volunteer in an Oxfam shop. I sell fair trade items, take donations and also provide information about Oxfam’s programs and response to emergencies.

I really enjoy working in the shop as all the staff and customers are really warm and passionate about making a difference. I have some excellent and sometimes surprising conversations with many people each shift, and it makes me feel great to know that there are many people in Melbourne who care about those living in poverty — and about making a change.

Successfully getting through the Christmas period is always weirdly fun. Our manager, Sanchiata, always values our feedback and uses it to create a good system so that we can get through the busy period as a team. We bond a lot over this time and I’ve made some great friends.

My favourite producer is Silence in Calcutta, India, who work with people who have hearing, visual and physical impairments. Silence trains them in computer data entry, hardware assembly and various handicrafts. The employees receive a regular salary, medical and providence fund benefits. I believe that organisations like this create a really positive change, both to the attitudes and perception of those in their community and to the customer who purchases their products.

The cards and candles made by Silence, which we stock in Oxfam Shop are really well-made and beautiful. I definitely have a weakness for their card designs!

In the office I work as the design and marketing intern for Oxfam Shop. Working in the shop first has given me a really big advantage as I feel I have good product and producer knowledge, and an understanding for what is needed when helping design store signage.

The work is quite varied, as there are new things to work on each time I come into the office, which is something I really value. There are so many projects and so many things to do! I’ve worked with the online product database, written posts for social media, designed posters, compiled product guides and more.

Volunteering has been excellent for building confidence in my work. Sometimes it can feel a little daunting designing something that many people will see; you want to get it right! My mentor, Nicola, gives me a solid understanding of Oxfam’s visual direction and provides great guidance. As a result I feel confident in having some creative freedom.

I’ve been lucky enough to create a design for a calico tote that will be sold in Oxfam shop. It is pretty exciting and I can’t wait until it comes in stock, I will probably buy, oh about 100! I was able to come up with my own concepts which was really rewarding.

When asked if she had advice for anyone wanting to volunteer at Oxfam, Lydia said:

“Do it! It’s really rewarding as I get to use my skills and knowledge and I genuinely feel like I am working towards something to help empower those living in poverty. The staff at Oxfam are like-minded and focused and it’s a great place to work.”

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