Saturday, 23 November 2013

Books, Blogs and Bric-a-Brac!

OK people, let’s get this blog up and running, and tweak it as we go along! The design, for example, is likely to evolve over the next week or so, until we come up with something that we feel really represents Oxfam Lichfield. It’s a new venture, so please bear with us while we find our feet! 
Aladdin's Cave: Oxfam Lichfield's 'Main Shop'.
So I’ll start by introducing ourselves. We (as I’ve already said) are Oxfam Lichfield, which is a beautiful Cathedral City in Staffordshire, in the heart of England. We are very lucky because we have two stores here, and both are incredibly well supported by the public: people arrive every day with bags and boxes and baskets stuffed full of their unwanted goods. We’re always happy to turn their trash into cash, but some days we are so busy that the back rooms in both shops look like a hoarder’s heaven, with donations heaped high in the air, and barely a few inches of floor to be seen. But the stalwart crews of volunteers (one team based in each shop) are rarely fazed by the scale of the task which faces them. And before you can say Jack Robinson everything is cleaned, sorted, priced, and either stacked away neatly in the storage area, or put out on display. 

I should explain that the store we refer to as the ‘Main Shop’ has been here for many, many years, selling clothes, children’s toys, bric-a-brac, a huge range of new products, and all kinds of other goodies. The shop, at 16 Market Street, is like an Aladdin’s Cave, crammed with wonderful things and, given half a chance, I could browse there for hours! 
Working in the Back Room of Oxfam Lichfield's Main Shop.

Just a few doors away at 32 Market Street (within shouting distance!) is Oxfam Books and Music, which has just celebrated its third birthday and sells, as its name suggests, books and music! What else would you expect? We’ve got CDs and records (I know, everyone these days refers to vinyl, but I was brought up with records, and I’m much too old to change my ways now) to suit every musical taste, from Abba to Zappa, Mozart to Mahler, marches to melodies…  

Then there are the books, neatly placed on shelves and tables in the shop, and piled up (a little less neatly I’m afraid) on the storage racks in the back. We stock books on just about every topic you can imagine – and possibly some you’ve never thought of. There are frivolous books, serious books, books that make you laugh, books that make you cry, heavyweight academic volumes, lightweight fluffy novels, crime, sci-fi, fantasy, chick lit, classics… it just goes on and on! If you love books (and I do) then it’s a wonderful place to volunteer, but the downside is that I spend all my money on books!
Oxfam Books and Music, Lichfield... I must get a
better picture!
Running the two shops helps us provide vital funds on a regular basis for Oxfam’s work combating poverty and suffering, but we also respond to disasters and emergencies, and currently have a special collection on the go to help victims of the Philippine Typhoon. And we have an active programme of events to make money for Oxfam Unwrapped – next up is a Christmas disco and dance.

There, that’s quite enough for a First Post! In the months ahead I’m hoping to highlight Oxfam’s work, and keep you up to date about what we do at Oxfam Lichfield, and what’s going on at some of the local groups we’ve linked up with. And there are some lovely, inspiring stories from our volunteers, who want everyone to know how volunteering has changed their lives.
Pottering around in the Book Shop sorting area.
And our Countdown to Christmas starts next Sunday (I can’t believe it’s almost December): we’ve got something really special lined up to feature on our social media sites, but I can’t say a word about it… My lips are sealed until the Big Reveal on December 1.

In the meantime you can keep up to date with all our news on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OxfamLichfield), and you can also follow us on Twitter (@oxfamtwitter).

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