Tuesday, 16 September 2014

No Monkey Business Please!

We get all kinds of donations in the Main Shop, but I wasn’t prepared to be confronted by a Giant Monkey when I unlocked! I hadn’t even switched the lights on, and I opened the door to the Back Room, and there he was, slouched in a chair, large as life, and twice as natural. There’s no window in our office and workroom, and in the dark this creature looked just like a person – I was quite scared for a moment until I realised what it was. 

It has to be the biggest soft toy I’ve ever seen. It really is huge, and I’m not sure if we’re going to sell it, raffle it off, or keep it for Christmas, but we’ll certainly find it a good home.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Wall of Sound for Christmas...

It's only September, and I hardly dare mention the 'C' word, but just look what we found in the Bookshop – a Christmas record! Really it’s much too early to put this out, but who could resist Phil Spector’s distinctive ‘Wall of Sound’ on seasonal classics like White Christmas, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Winter Wonderland, and Silent Night. And there’s also a few less well-known songs… Was (It’s a) Marshmallow World ever a hit? 

This is a 1972 re-issue (by Apple), of Spector’s earlier festive LP ‘A Christmas Gift To You’, featuring The Crystals, Darlene Love, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans and, of course, The Ronettes. It’s probably been snapped up already (‘vintage vinyl’ is very popular) but it’s always worth browsing through our record collection to see what goodies you can find.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Don't Stop The Music!

Hitting the right note... Like Oxfam shops up and down the country, we're appealing for unwanted musical instruments which can be donated to primary UK schools. The idea is that you can leave instruments for the Don't Stop The Music campaign at either of our shops, and we will arrange for them to be collected, checked over, cleaned, and passed on to a participating school.  
The ‘instrument amnesty’ has been launched by internationally renowned classical pianist James Rhodes, who wants the Government to give every child in England the chance to play a musical instrument.  “Music education should be a right, not a privilege,” he says on campaign website. So, if you’ve got an old guitar, violin, trumpet, flute, oboe or anything else which is never used, and just lies in a forgotten corner of the house gathering dust, then James would like you to donate it, enabling a child to make music. The campaign will accept almost any instrument, as long as they are not electric (which rules out keyboards and some guitars), and are not too big (which rules out pianos and harps).

James fell in love with the piano when he was just seven years old but, despite his musical ability, he ended up working in the city. Then, as he explains the campaign website, one day he decided to swap bank notes for musical notes and followed his dream to become a professional musician.
“I was lucky,” he says. “Today, many kids never get a chance to play an instrument. Three years ago the Government declared that all school children in England should get the chance to learn a musical instrument. Presumably they didn't envisage sweet tins, rubbish bins and the other sad excuses for instruments I've come across while visiting some of our primary schools over the past few months.
“I've found schools where only those who can afford private lessons play music. Where there is not a single music tutor. Where teachers are squeezing what they can out of music budgets that are tighter than a guitar string.  The UK music industry is worth £3.5 billion to our economy. Yet instead of investing in musical education, we treat it as a privilege for some of our kids instead of a right for all.
“But music is about more than making money. By practising, kids learn discipline; reading sheet music demands concentration; playing in a band calls for teamwork; performing boosts self-confidence. The longer we continue to chip away at this country's rich musical heritage, the more we're denying our children the chance to develop these vital life skills, through learning an instrument.”
His efforts to show how learning a musical instrument can benefit school children are being followed in ‘Don't Stop The Music, a two-part Channel 4 TV (the second part can be seen next Tuesday, September 16, 2014).
James (right) in the TV show.
 He’s being backed by a host of celebrity musicians like Neneh Cherry  and Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson, and, of course, by Oxfam. The charity believes the power of music can change lives around the world, and the ‘instrument amnesty’ coincides with the annual Oxjam bonanza – a celebration of music which involves a packed programme of fund-raising gigs and other events organised by local groups around the country, with festival finales all taking place on October 17. Instruments must be donated before that date.
If you have a musical instrument you can give to the cause that would be great, but please, please, don’t just drop it off – there are various forms which need to be completed. First you need to register online, so your gift can be tracked, and you can see exactly where it goes. It may sound complicated, but it’s really quite easy – just go to http://www.dontstopthemusic.co.uk/ and click on ‘Donate an Instrument’.
Once you have keyed in the relevant details, you should receive an ID number, which must be noted on another form (paper this time) to be completed when you drop the instrument off at the shop. I admit it sounds a little time consuming, but as well as letting you track your gift, it all shows that you have agreed to make the donation, and that you want the instrument to go for this project, rather than being sold to raise funds for Oxfam.
Volunteers in both our shops should be aware of the campaign, but if you are interested in making a donation, or need more information, the best thing to do is to pop into the Bookshop, and have a chat with manager Chris Hancox.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

It's Quiz Night!

Love this poster from our friends at Oxjam Lichfield, who are so energetic and enthusiastic about raising cash for Oxfam – and seem to have great fun at their events. For those who have never heard of Oxjam, I guess you could call it the ‘musical arm’ of Oxfam. Nationally, it was founded in 2006, with the aim of staging events around the country, run by local volunteers, for local people, showcasing the talents of local musicians while raising cash for Oxfam.  

Oxjam Lichfield hasn’t been going quite that long, and is now moving into its third year, attracting music lovers of all ages and tastes (if you think it’s about young people and pop, that just shows how wrong you can be). So far this year there have been all kinds of events, including informal music sessions in our Bookshop - it’s amazing how many people are prepared to squash themselves into such a small space, all for the sake of good music! 

In addition to the ongoing musical events, last month volunteers organised a raffle at the Beacon Park Fun Day, and in July they undertook a 20-mile sponsored walk, which sounds pretty tough to me (I told you they were energetic). 

And tonight (Sunday, September 7), of course, there’s the fundraising quiz at the Paradise Club in Lichfield, which gets under way at 8.30pm. All the entry money (it’s only £1 a person) will be donated to Oxfam, together with 10 per cent of the bar cut. 

All these activities lead up to the Oxjam Lichfield Takeover Festival on October 18 – I’ll post up some more details nearer the date, but in the meantime you can find information on Oxjam Lichfield’s excellent website, which links into their blog and their Twitter site. And the masses more about Oxjam on the main Oxfam GB website.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Train, Boats and Planes...

This week we have a Transport Table in the Bookshop! Sadly, perhaps, that doesn’t mean the table will whisk you off to distant destinations – though a Star Trek style transporter in the shape of a table would be pretty cool I think, especially for those of us like me who are not good travellers. Actually I’ve always fancied the idea of a magic carpet – the one in Edith Nesbit’s The Phoenix and the Carpet is my favourite, and the idea of travelling on a bed powered by a magical bedknob (Bedknob and Broomsticks by Mary Norton) sounds quite enticing.  

Anyway, I digress, and I dare say carpets, beds and tables would be very uncomfortable modes of transport, so let’s stick to more conventional methods, which is what our current display of books is all about. 

We’ve got dozens of books on boats, planes, trains, trams, cars, bicycles, motorbikes…. Have I forgotten anything? As you can see, these volumes tell you about transport on land, sea and air, and seem to cover everything you’ve always wanted to know about transport old and new, and there are fabulous pictures in some of them of steam engines, vintage cars, sailing ships and canal boats, as well as faster, more modern transportation.

We are very grateful to the man who donated these books (it must have taken years collecting them all) and were amused to see them delivered by van, which seems a very suitable way to deliver books on transport! Anyway, if you’d like to pop in and take a look, we’d love to see you – but you’ll have to be quick, because these books are selling like hot cakes!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Book Art!

This piece of Book Art has pride of place in our Bookshop window, and we think it is truly spectacular, It was created by one of our clever volunteers, inspired by a workshop at an Arts Festival in Alrewas, a village just outside Lichfield. 

If you’re feeling artistic, and you want to try your hand at some Altered Books, pop in and have a browse, or chat to our manager.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Well Clever!

It’s very easy to forget what Oxfam is all about, but there’s a lot more to the organisation than a string of charity shops and groups of fundraisers. So today we’re taking a look at a project in Bangladesh, which we think is well clever, and dead simple. The Oxfam GB Facebook page (where the photo comes from) explains it really well, so I’m going to quote from there, because I can’t put it any better! 

“You might think finding drinking water wouldn’t be difficult during a flood, but the opposite can be true, with sources contaminated with dirty flood water. That’s why, in Bangladesh, we installed wells high above the flood level, so people have clean safe drinking water, even when extreme weather strikes. Preparing for disaster – sometimes the simplest things can make a massive difference.” 

I know I keep highlighting the need for water, but it is so important, because it is such a life-saver. Oxfam works to provide clean, safe water, for drinking, cooking and washing, in some of the poorest communities in the world. They provide water in areas devastated by natural disasters like floods, droughts, and typhoons. But they also help people living in places devastated by war, like Gaza and Sudan. Oxfam’ work providing clean, safe water not only combats thirst and hunger – it also helps halt the spread of disease. 

Importantly, the charity works with local communities to find practical solutions to the problems they face – like overcoming the difficulties of providing easily accessible clean water in flood-stricken Bangladesh.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Calendar Collection

You know Winter’s on the way when… The kids go back to school… Some shops already have Christmas displays… And Oxfam starts selling Next Year’s Calendars! Here at Oxfam Lichfield we have a selection of colourful Calendars (or Family Organisers as they seem to be called these days) in both shops, and yes, we know it’s only September, but it’s never too early to make a note of those important dates for the year ahead.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dahl's Chocolate Delight

A Quentin Blake illustration of
Charlie and Willy Wonka

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is 50! Do you know how old that makes me feel? It wasn't even written when I was a child, but my own daughters loved it when they were small, and Roald Dahl's classic tale is as popular with children (and adults) as it's ever been. You can celebrate by reading (or re-reading) the book - and, of course, you can eat as much chocolate a you like!!! 

We have lots of fairly traded choccies, and we usually have a copy of the book in the Children's Corner of our Market Street Bookshop, with additional volumes in the storeroom, but you have to be quick to bag one, because they are snapped up as soon as we receive them. 

As far as the book goes, it was first published in America in 1964, and appeared in Britain three years later. At the time it was unlike most other children’s literature because it’s really quite dark - I’ve always thought it has more in common with Struwwelpeter, a 19th century classic where awful things happen to children who don't do as they’re told.  
Struwwelpeter - known in English as Straw Headed Peter.
I’m sure everyone knows the plot, but just in case you’ve missed it, young Charlie Bucket finds a Golden Ticket which enables him and Grandpa Joe to visit the fabulous chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka, ‘the most amazing, the most fantastic, the most extraordinary chocolate maker the world has ever seen’. But the visit is a test, because Willy Wonka is looking for someone to run the factory after him, and one by one the children who don’t follow his advice disappear, never to be seen again… 

And a lost chapter, which has just appeared in Saturday's Guardian Review, with new illustrations by the inimitable Quentin Blake, was deemed unsuitable for children and was never included in the book! 

See what I mean about dark? 
Author Roald Dahl
But there’s a lot of fun and laughter and, as Dahl has Willy Wonka say: “A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.” A lot of the nonsense has to do with the magical, sugary, chocolaty confections that are created in the factory, from Exploding Sweets for your enemies, to Invisible Chocolate Bars for eating in class. JK Rowling has cited Dahl as one of her influences, and you can see how the sweet delights in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might have inspired the Every Flavour Beans and Fizzing Whizzbees found in the Harry Potter books. 

There are even instructions for making some of these chocalicious goodies in
Roald Dahl's Completely Revolting Recipes (which includes two earlier cookbooks). Sadly, we don’t often see the cookbooks in our Bookshop - I guess they are too well used too donate to Oxfam! 

But we do have lots of other cookbooks for you to browse if you want to try your hand at baking choccy sweets and cakes. In addition, we’ve got a selection of Divine chocolate which can be used for cooking, or eaten just as it is! I am assured it is exceedingly nice, but unfortunately I can’t vouch for this myself, as chocolate gives me migraine.

Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45 per cent owned by cocoa farmers, ensuring they receive a better deal for their cocoa, as well as additional income to invest in their community. Ownership gives farmers a share of company profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry. 
Yummy Divine chocolate.

More information from:


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Travelling Van!

Have books, will travel... Not sure where this came from (it seems to be doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter) but it is such a wonderful idea. If we had a van like that for the Bookshop we could go mobile and take books out to the world!! Wouldn’t that be great?! 
I wonder if the vehicle is purely for storing books, or whether you can actually live in it, like a camper van. Actually, it reminds me of Christopher Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels, a brilliant novel about a travelling bookshop which is long overdue for a reprint (it was published in 1917, and I've never seen a copy in our shop, which is a shame). However, electronic versions are available at Project Gutenburg. 

And although we lack suitable transport to provide a mobile service, you can still visit our Bookshop, which is packed with all kinds of books, so do come and browse.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Bathtime Reading

OK, I admit that here at Oxfam Lichfield most of us are quackers about books (especially if we volunteer in the Bookshop), but we don't all read in the bath! There are those who think it spoils a book, because the pages get soggy and they go crinkly and wrinkly as they dry out, but I can live with that! 

I'm not even sure if there are perfect books to read in the bath - I just grab whatever I happen to be reading at the time, but I suppose one could try and find books with a bathtime theme... Jill Murphy's children's classic, Five Minutes Peace springs to mind. Has anyone got any other ideas? 

And before anyone says anything, yes, I do feel guilty about being able to soak in the bath with a good book when so many people in the world don't even have clean water for drinking and cooking, let alone keeping clean.  

Anyway, if you want a good book to read in the bath, we have plenty of choice in our Bookshop (32 Market Street). And if you want to help Oxfam provide clean water for communities, you can make a donation at either of our shops. We're always immensely grateful to customers who put money in our box on the counter, and the small change adds up very quickly. Thanks to these contributions, over the last couple of years we've been able to send cash to disaster funds in the Philippines, Sudan, and Gaza - and the provision of safe, clean water is a vital part of Oxfam's work in all three places.  

If you're willing to give more, you could buy a gift through the Oxfam Unwrapped scheme, where all the money goes directly to a specific project. For example, £10 provides fresh water for 10 people, while £22 fixes a well. Staff and volunteers in both our shops can expain the scheme, and full details are available on the main Oxfam GB website at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped).

By the way, should you wonder, the duck with a book is from the British Library, and I couldn't resist it. I just wish Oxfam would make something like this to sell in the bookshops - I'm sure they would be popular!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Green Cleaning Power...

I’ve been working my way through Oxfam’s ‘new products’ and have acquired a lovely cheerful mug (Always Half Full, it says on the side), as well as brolly, a tote bag, and a notebook for Big Ideas. But I thought it would be nice to try out something more practical – after all, if we’re selling this stuff we ought to know what it’s like! And, since I hate housework, I thought I would try out some cleaning products. 

Personally, I feel there’s a lot to be said for progress when it comes to washing, ironing, dusting, polishing and so on. Nostalgia is all very well, but when it comes to domestic tasks! Life must have been have been jolly hard for women in days gone by, although I must admit the idea of making your own cleaners always sounds attractive: it’s the thought of all those natural ingredients that is so alluring. After all, things like lemons, salt, vinegar, and baking soda have got to be better than chemicals, and you’re avoiding unnecessary packaging. But when it comes to it, I can’t be bothered to mix them up, and somehow I feel it’s not a proper cleaning product if it doesn’t come in a plastic container or a brightly coloured box.

So the range of cleaning products on sale in some Oxfam shops (including our Main Shop) is a pretty good compromise. They’re made by Bio-D, an independent, family-owned, ethically motivated company, which is based in the UK. It claims on its website that it is ‘dedicated to promoting the use of hypoallergenic, environmentally responsible detergents that have a minimum impact on the ecosystem both in their use and in their manufacturing process’. That’s a posh way of saying it’s eco-friendly and doesn’t cause pollution or allergies. 
On top of all that, wherever possible, raw materials are plant-derived and taken from renewable sources. There are no genetically modified ingredients or animal by-products, and nothing is tested on animals. Inn addition, not only are packaging and containers recyclable, but they are produced (as far as possible) from recycled materials.

I used the non-biological concentrated washing powder on a pile of dirty old towels (including a couple of grubby ones from our Bookshop that looked as if they’d been used to mop the floor) and it got them every bit as clean as my usual brand, so I was pleased with the powder’s performance. And I loved the fact that although the tea towels smelled clean, they didn’t have that cloying, overwhelming perfume found in so many commercial varieties.

The brown paper packaging was brilliant: it looked good, was simple, and kind of minimalistic, using far less materials and taking up less space than conventional cardboard packets. On the downside, although it seemed fairly tough, I’m not sure how well it would stand up to conditions in a kitchen or utility room. I was a bit worried in case the bag broke, or got wet, so I decanted the contents into a largish jar with a screw-top lid (I knew my hoard of jars would come in useful one day!).

I like the concept of the products - the whole thing is ideologically sound, which is to be applauded. And I like the idea of buying from Oxfam, so my money is put to good use. However, to be honest I’m not sure I can afford to stick to my principles as these products do work out quite expensive. The non-biological washing powder is £3.99 a kilo. It is concentrated, so you don’t need a huge amount, and you’re supposed to be able to get up to 17 washes, but I guess that would only be if you have washing that’s not too dirty, so needs less powder, and as I live in a hard water area I always have to use more than the recommended amount (it’s the same with washing up liquid and bubble bath). Sadly, if you’re on a low income, or have a large family, I think Bio-D would be too costly.

*If you want to more about the company and its products, there is an excellent website (http://www.biodegradable.biz/) which outlines the dangers of many substances commonly used in all kinds of cleaners, and lists the ingredients. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Can you Name the Seven Sins...

We’re proud of our work here at Oxfam Lichfield… And we’re proud of the work undertaken by Oxfam staff and volunteers around the globe… So we felt it was only fitting that ‘our’ Sin was Pride! If you remember, we’ve been displaying lovely shiny trousers and jacket in our Bookshop, along with a matching jacket, and a huge ‘Vote for Me’ rosette, like the ones politicians wear when they’re urging people to vote for them.
The Seven Sins: Pride, Envy, Jealousy, Lust, War, Greed
and Sloth, with the young winner of the competition who
received a prize for himself, and another for his school.
 It was one of the costumes from the Lichfield Mysteries, and was loaned to us for a competition organised by the group who run the unique event. We joined seven other city centre businesses to display one of the outfits worn by The Sins in Doomsday, the last play in the cycle. Visitors had to guess which clothes were worn by which Sins, and there were prizes for getting it right.

Greedt, dressed as a
birthday cake!
Customers kept admiring the glittery bronze garments (just as well they weren’t on show in the Main Shop, aka Brenda’s Emporium, or someone might have sold them!). And people kept asking us to give them a clue about the mysterious identity of the character who wore them. But even we had no idea who the outfit belonged to. 

Anyway, the Big Reveal was on Saturday, when volunteers from the Mysteries (which will be staged again next year) donned the costumes and explained who was who. The costumes were all quite wonderful, and very colourful and imaginative, and some were quite difficult to identify – I liked Greed, dressed as an ornate birthday cake, complete with candles! Anyone who’s ever struggled to get a teenager out of bed would recognise Sloth, still clad in his night attire, wrapped around in his bedding, not bothered about doing anything!  And War, which destroys communities around the world, as Oxfam knows only too well, was an impressive golden warrior. Then there was Envy, Lust, and Jealousy, all looking absolutely magnificent, taking time out to chat to passers-by.

War, looking resplendent in his outfit.
But conflict destroys communities
around around the globe.,
People who stopped by were also asked to write brief details about a mystery in their own lives, and in return those who took part received a little container of free seedlings which could grow into anything at all! This is part of ongoing project, and the mysterious secrets (all disclosed anonymously) will be used in writing workshops run by the organisers.

I wrote about The Mysteries in my last post, and there’s masses of information at the website for the spectacular event, so I’m not going to going over it again. But if you want to get in touch the organisers would love to hear from you – they always need actors, ‘backstage’ people to help with the production, which is staged in the Market Square and the Cathedral, andfundraisers.

As the Mysteries is a community event, and Oxfam is very much a part of trhat community, Chris Hancox, our Bookshop Manager, is hoping we can get involved in a couple more ventures to help promote the traditional drama and, obviously, there will be an element of mystery in whatever we do… More than that we cannot say at the moment… It will just have to remain a mystery until the time comes to tell you!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Sinful Clothes are such a Mystery...!

The beautiful outfit pictured on our blog today is just sinful… Well, to be precise it’s the costume worn by one of the Seven Sins in Doomsday, the final play of the Lichfield Mysteries, and it’s on display in our Bookshop. Six other shops around the city have joined us to support organisers of the massive event by taking part in a special competition. It’s quite simple. You have to guess which Sin is represented by the clothes on show in each business, and if you name them all correctly you could win a prize! But the competition ends tomorrow, so you’d better get your thinking caps on and start puzzling it out.

There are 27 plays in the Lichfield Mysteries, which will be performed in the city in May next year, keeping alive a tradition which dates back to medieval times, when members of the trade and craft guilds acted out Bible tales in the open air. The Lichfield Cycle was revived in 1994, and includes fragments of text from the city’s original dramas, as well as text from other cycles.

Each play is staged by a different local group, with around 600 people (from schoolchildren to pensioners) acting out the stories in a colourful spectacular that lasts for two days, with productions in the Market Square and the Cathedral. In addition, some plays will be mounted on a mobile stage, which will tour the district.

A huge amount of work goes into the Mysteries, which take place every third year. The next one takes place on May 3 and 4, 2015, which may seem a long time away, but make a note of the dates now, because the dramas (each is performed twice on each day) are well worth watching, and if you’ve never seen them before you should – just because the plays are based on Bible stories doesn’t mean you have to be religious to enjoy them. And their origins may be centuries old, but you can still relate to them in the 21st century. Every human emotion is there: humour, wit, passion, sadness, love, anger… And they look wonderful with all those incredible costumes, and they really are great fun (I’m a fan – can you tell?).

According to the Lichfield Mysteries’ excellent website (it tells you how you can get involved, and also has details of the organisation’s fundraising activities, as well as details about the competition and you’ll find it at http://www.lichfieldmysteries.co.uk/) the community-based arts project, is probably the largest such event in England to be free of charge to participants and spectators.

Chris Hancox, Manager of Oxfam Books & Music in Lichfield, said: “We jumped at the chance to help support and promote Lichfield Mysteries, which is a unique event. Over the last few years it’s become one of Lichfield’s key events, reviving an old custom, attracting visitors, and encouraging residents of all ages to work together for the good of the local community. Oxfam is very much a part of that community, and we are anxious to be involved in any way we can.”

And if you’re still wondering about that shimmering bronze outfit featured at the beginning of this post, none of us have any idea about Sin… We’re a virtuous lot here at Oxfam Lichfield! But if you think you know take a look at the other sinful costumes on show at S & J Music, the George Hotel, Lichfield Cathedral, Spark Cafe Lichfield, Lichfield Library, and Lichfield Heritage Centre.
Three of a kind... Three Sins,from the Lichfield Mysteries

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Glenn Got a Job - Thanks to Oxfam!

Welcome back Glenn

Glenn Pollock, who was a volunteer in our Lichfield Book Shop earlier this year has spent the last six months working in the shop at Alton Towers – and he says it’s all thanks to Oxfam! Glenn, aged 26, has cerebral palsy and dyslexia, but he’s never let that get in the way. “When I was growing up I was constantly falling over, and it used to upset me,” he explains. “But it’s not worth getting upset over. I’ve learnt to deal with these things, and I just go out and do what I want to do.  It takes me an extra bit longer to do things. Sometimes my speech is a bit slow, and occasionally I get a bit flustered, but it doesn’t bother me.”

Brought up in Lichfield, he gained an HND in zoology at Derby University, and joined our team of volunteers after finishing his studies and failing to find a job. “I wanted to get out of the house and do something worthwhile,” he says.   “And I did hope it would help me get work.”

When he started with Oxfam Glenn didn’t know what to expect, and his confidence was at a low ebb. “I’d never worked in retail – I’d never used a till, and I had no experience handling cash for an organisation.” But he quickly acquired those new ‘front of house’ skills, got to know our customers, and became a dab hand at checking out the condition and value of donated CDs, records and books.

His confidence grew in leaps and bounds, and he says he really enjoyed himself. “I loved volunteering with Oxfam. I like the camaraderie, the way everyone works together as a ream, and talking about books and music. I love helping people – it puts a smile on my face.”

But he really wanted to get a job and be independent, and he’s convinced it was the skills and experience he gained at Oxfam Lichfield that brought him success. “I can’t thank Oxfam enough. It was due to Oxfam that I got the job, but it was a bit scary to start with. And it gets even more scary when you’re dealing with sales of £200, and taking security tags off goods and so on, but it all falls into place fairly quickly, and I like talking to customers.”

Glenn’s been working on the tills, meeting and greeting visitors, and answering their queries but, sadly, it’s only a seasonal position, and has just come to end. However, he’s already applied to return next year, and the meantime he’s back in our Book Shop, advising customers about books and music they might enjoy, manning the till, and helping out with all the back room tasks.

Chris Hancox, Our Book Shop manager, is delighted with Glenn’s success. He said: “When I took this role on I wanted to help people- not only those that Oxfam aids through its many projects all over the world, but local people who need a bit of a boost, like Glenn. I’m thrilled he feels we helped him, and pleased he’s back helping us, but I’m sure it won’t be long before he is employed again.”

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year Resolutions...

Right people, it's the First of January, the month named after the Roman God Janus, who had two heads (back to back) and was therefore able to look backwards and forwards at the same time, to the past and the future, which must have made life jolly confusing. And just think of the barber's bills... Anyway, in addition to being the Guardian of Gates and Doors, he was responsible for beginnings - and what are New Year's Resolutions about if they're not about starting over?
Bust of the Roman God Janus, from the Vatican
Museum. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Here at Oxfam Lichfield we've got all sorts of hopes and dreams for the year ahead. We want to make 2014 our best year ever (we're ambitious, but we like to aim high). Over at the Main Shop Brenda and her team of valiant volunteers aim to build on their success of the past year, continuing to attract fabulous donations and wonderful customers so they can raise vital funds for Oxfam's work abroad, and in the UK.

Meanwhile, Our Manager in the Bookshop is planning some special 'Bag a Bargain' bonanzas, which should please book lovers, and Ashley, who heads up the music operation, is hoping that this year will be a record breaker for sales and donations (excuse the rather bad pun there). So, to keep him happy, please keep on donating your unwanted vinyl, CDs and DVDs. We are very grateful for your help, and I know we keep asking for more, but we we have lots of faithful music fans,so records and discs fly off the shelves as soon as we put them out - they really do sell like hotcakes.
Help us make 2014 a record-breaker, pleads Ashley -
he was delighted with these CDs, part of a donation
which arrived just before Christmas
And what about me, I hear you ask.... Well, as I've said on our Facebook Page, and on Twitter, there are times when I feel I am developing a split personality as far as social media are concerned, and get horribly muddled sometimes trying to remember if I am Me or Oxfam, Oxfam or Me...

So, as Me I am trying to stop eating junk food (again - I say this every year) and to do more exercise (I say this every year as well). As Oxfam Lichfield I want to try and get this blog up and running on a regular basis (I know, I haven't done very well so far, but it takes time, and Christmas, and New Year, and family things got in the way). The aim is for us to have a vibrant electronic presence, alongside Facebook, Twitter, the online shop and, of course, the shops!

That's it for the moment folks, but we've got all sorts of ideas simmering away - we just need to turn them from dream to reality! In the meantime may I wish you all a Happy New Year. And do leave a comment to tell us about your Resolutions!