Hi, my name is Odile.
For part of my business degree in France, I did an internship at the Oxfam Boutique Westbourne Grove in London.
My objectives were to practice the language and increase my employability.
The first day I was greeted by Jackie, the store manager, who explained to me how the store works. She showed me the different tasks I would have to complete. All clothes, accessories, and homewares are donations, sorted in order to choose the best brands and quality, then sold at the best prices.
Jackie also highlighted the importance of “Gift Aid”, a scheme enabling registered charities to reclaim tax on a donation made by a UK taxpayer, effectively increasing the amount of the donation. This was why it is so important to ask each donor if they have a “Gift Aid number” or if they want one.
“Anyone can volunteer in an Oxfam shop without the need for a diploma or special skills.”
Having had experience in sales, adapting to the different tasks required was not a problem; indeed anyone can volunteer in an Oxfam shop without the need for a diploma or special skills.
The different jobs I tried out were: using the cash register, sorting clothes, labelling, merchandising, changing mannequins, and even the organisation of photo shoots for the shop’s social media.
The weekly photo shoots even allowed me to take up a passion I had put aside for a while; photography. The different light effects, the right frame to choose, the best clothes to choose for presenting them on social media, are many of the things I love to do.
“I was able to put my passion to good use for a charity, and I find this rewarding.”
The first thing that impressed me was the quality of the clothes – sold at more than affordable prices. In France, charity shops do not have the same connotation as in London. Here in the UK, the clientele is very diverse and Oxfam is even known by tourists who make a point of visiting.
“It allowed me to work in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where everyone is listening to each other.”
Doing my internship at Oxfam has allowed me to meet volunteers of all ages (teenagers, working people, retired people) and with other foreign interns. We share good times with everyone. And I learned even more about my adaptability and myself. It allowed me to work in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where everyone is listening to each other. Every skill is put to good use in order to make the best possible contribution to the shop.
I have improved my language level and my employability, so have achieved my objectives, but above all, I have developed the desire to repeat the experience for a longer period.
I really thank the whole team for all they have been able to bring to me, and encourage as many people as possible to volunteer at Oxfam. You can give even one hour of your time to the charity and play your part.
Find out more about Oxfam Boutique Westbourne Grove