Oxfam shops

My 2020 odyssey: To only buy pre-loved clothes

Clothing bought in charity shops

Before Christmas of this year I set a challenge for myself – to only buy second hand clothes and to try to stick at it for a year at least. The decisive moment came after a few fun daylong charity shop trawls with my two housemates. They had just discovered the joys of second hand shopping and together we would set out every second or third Saturday to see what we could find – they were mostly clothes missions, but on one occasion, we also happened upon a lush couch to replace our badly worn old one.

The three of us would descend on a circuit of shops – eager bees – and between us would come home with a hodgepodge of amazing finds, perfect fits and some really special pieces that sparked excitement and satisfaction. In turn, (as our wardrobes were growing at an insane rate) we would bag up our pre-loved items and bring them with us to donate to our local charity shops. Win, win – a local circular economy of sorts.

My favourite pieces include a Tommy Hilfiger jumper, that I am seriously missing now -  it is in lockdown in Dublin and I am in lockdown in Kildare. Hilfiger isn’t a brand I would usually shop for or check out, but this jumper stopped me in my tracks! I had to have it, and at the princely sum of €12 (bearing in mind it had barely been worn) I nearly skipped the whole way home.

Another fav success story was an amazing Gonzo zip up hoodie – when I saw it I immediately thought to myself...”who would get rid of this!?” I have gotten serious wear out of it and it has become a staple of my wardrobe – unfortunately this one is in lockdown in Wexford, so I’m not sure when we will meet again.

My last spotlight find was a nifty Supremebeing light summer jacket. Again, it was in perfect nick, fit like a glove and was a departure of sorts for me – it wasn’t really my usual colour choice. But therein lies the beauty of buying second hand – it tends to push you out of your comfort zone, makes you test new waters and expand your wardrobe horizons.

With lockdown and COVID-19 my challenge has been somewhat sidetracked. I am still trying to stick to a sustainable 2020 – I am knitting a baby blanket for a friends’ new baby girl instead of buying a gift and I have started growing veg and wild flower beds.

However, I can not wait, I mean seriously cannot wait, to get stuck back into second hand shopping when charity shops reopen. As many of you may be using your extra time to declutter at home – be it books, clothes or bric-a-brac – please be sure to keep them for your local charity shop when it reopens (Oxfam shops will be opening from 8th June!). Donations will be needed more than ever. But when you drop that bag or box off, also take a little meander through the shop, and see what hidden gems you can find – little gems that enable organisations like Oxfam to beat poverty and fight inequality across the world.

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COVID-19: Your local Oxfam shop needs you

Last week, for the first time in over 60 years, our shops across the island of Ireland closed. We made this difficult decision to protect our staff and volunteers, and to do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Our shops play an invaluable role in raising much-needed funds for our work worldwide – they help ensure we can continue to protect and support some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

However, they’re not just vital to our organisation, each one is community hub that has served and been supported by you for decades.

Oxfam secondhand fashion shop

With our shops closed, we need your support now more than ever.

At this time of unprecedented change for all of us, our mission remains the same – to let you, our supporters, know how you can help communities facing extreme poverty and disaster. Life-saving work that is only possible because of you.

We believe that sharing the stories and experiences of the communities we work with is even more important now as we monitor and prepare for the potential rapid spread of COVID-19 in the countries in which we work. For people living in flimsy shelters in refugee camps and in communities without adequate hygiene and health infrastructure, the impact of an outbreak doesn’t bear thinking about.

Oxfam secondhand fashion shop in Dublin city centre

We’re urgently appealing for your help and want to share some ways that you can continue to support your local Oxfam shop, even if its doors are closed.

We still want the things you don’t! As we all use this time to declutter, please continue to support your local Oxfam:

·       Save your donations and drop them in when we’re back up and running – for all of us, hopefully this will be sooner rather than later

You can also help us continue to raise vital funds:

·       Make a one-off donation or setup a monthly one if you can

·       Set up a Facebook fundraiser in solidarity with your local Oxfam shop – and help continue its crucial fundraising work!

Our shops play a central role in supporting our emergency appeals. Right now, we are trying to raise funds for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar – the largest refugee camp in the world. As we battle COVID-19, they are preparing to enter into monsoon season, which brings with it a serious threat to life and infrastructure in the camp. Our gravest concern is the destruction of sanitation facilities which are vital to halt the spread of deadly diseases such as COVID-19.

Our shops have been a part of local communities as far back as 1956. That is 64 years of providing people with affordable and sustainable clothing, books, furniture and more.

Thank you for all of the ways you’ve supported us over those 64 years from donating and shopping to volunteering your time and talent.

I hope you will stand with us now and understand why we are asking for your continued support through this global storm that we are all weathering together.

Fashion Relief: Lorraine Keane shines a light on the Rohingya crisis

A few weeks ago, the amazing community in Galway descended to The Galmont Hotel for Fashion Relief 2020Some were there for the day out, others to bag a bargain. Yet whatever their reason for attending, everyone was doing their bit for vulnerable people experiencing climate change, conflict and hunger.

More than 700,000 people fled Myanmar when violence broke out in 2017, pushing the number of refugees in Bangladesh to almost 1 million. They arrived in the country suffering from both physical and psychological injuries, traumatised by the atrocities they had witnessed as they fled.

cox's bazar rohingya refugee camp
Views of the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

Lorraine Keane travelled to Bangladesh to see how the funds raised are helping those who need it most. Among those she met was Rohingya refugee and mother-of-four Naila, whose husband was shot as they fled their home in Myanmar.

Naila, who was pregnant with her fifth child at the time, also witnessed her 14-year-old son being killed before the family escaped across the border. Like countless others, Naila and her children ended up in Cox’s Bazar – the world’s largest refugee camp.

rohingya refugee at her shelter
Naila at her shelter in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Jeannie O'Brien

Diseases spread quickly through the flimsy shelters in the overcrowded camps of Cox’s Bazar, where the population density is four times the UN’s recommended levels. Respiratory infections, diarrhoea and malaria are rife, with children particularly vulnerable.

influencer trip to refugee crisis
Lorraine Keane at Kutupalong Camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeannie O'Brien

Meanwhile, more than a third of women say they don't feel safe going to collect water or using toilets and showers. As a result, they go to the toilet less or end up going to the toilet inside their tents, putting themselves at risk of disease.

Worryingly, there are also reports of women and girls being forced into sex to earn money to survive, and adolescent girls marrying due to their parents’ inability to feed them.

What Oxfam is doing to help the Rohingya people

We’re providing vital aid including clean water and food to Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. So far, we’ve helped 360,000 people in Bangladesh, while we’re also supporting 100,000 Rohingya in Myanmar with clean water and sanitation services.

In addition, we’re helping people stay healthy by installing water points, toilets and showers, and distributing soap and other essentials. We’ve recruited more than 600 Rohingya volunteers to help us reach other refugees with hygiene information, we’ve built the biggest-ever sewage plant in a refugee camp on site and our solar-powered water network provides safe water more effectively.

Meanwhile, we’ve provided 25,000 refugee households with vouchers that can be exchanged at local markets for fresh vegetables and ingredients. We’ve hired over 1,800 Bangladeshi locals to work on local construction projects including road repairs, schools and water sources and provided almost 400 local people with grants to start or expand their small businesses.

To help women feel safer after dark, we’ve installed more than 350 solar-powered streetlights around the camp and provided 20,000 torches and portable solar lanterns. We’ve also worked with women refugees to design more secure toilets and supplied them with fabric and vouchers so they can make or order clothes they feel more comfortable wearing in public.

Fashion Relief at Cox's Bazar | Oxfam Ireland

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Oxfam Ireland wins big at charity shop awards

Oxfam Ireland took home the big prize of the night at the 2020 Irish Charity Shop Association Awards. Reserved for shop managers who show exceptional leadership and commitment to their charity, shop, donors, customers, staff and volunteers, the Shop Manager of the Year Award was presented to Bridget Walsh from Oxfam Navan.

District Retail Manager Mark Sweeney said: "Bridget is one of the best examples of what a charity shop manager is - she works for the charity and for her volunteers. In the two years I have worked with Bridget, I have learned that Bridget is not just a shop manager to her volunteers - she is family, she is a friend, she is a support. The volunteers in our Navan shop are not just there because it's Oxfam, or indeed because it's a charity, they're there because of Bridget."

This accomplishment was even sweeter for Bridget as she celebrates her 20th year of working at Oxfam Ireland! Congratulations, Bridget!

charity shop manager of the year award winner and friends
Left to Right: Volunteer Ann Bird, Bridget, DRM and ICSA Chair Mark Sweeney and Volunteer Elizabeth Ward.

But Bridget wasn't the only one celebrating at the event!

Eli Garcia-Badia, Shop Manager at Oxfam Dundrum, was named runner-up in the Shop Manager of the Year Award's category. Congratulations, Eli!

charity shop manager of the year runner up
Left to Right: DRM and ICSA Chair Mark Sweeney, Dundrum Manager Eli Garcia-Badia and DRM Stephanie Coady.

And Oxfam Books on Dublin's Parliament St. was pipped at the post for Shop Team of the Year. Congratulations team!

charity shop team of the year award
Oxfam Parliament St. Team with DRM and ICSA Chair Mark Sweeney.

We know our volunteers are absolutely amazing, but it's wonderful to see them get the recognition they deserve.

Please help us also congratulate Ali Mubashair from our Oxfam Cork shop and Jacinta Maxwell from Oxfam Dun Laoghaire for being named runners-up in the Volunteer of the Year category! Massive congratulations!

volunteer of the year runner up
Left to Right: Martin Kenny's widow Patricia Kenny, Stephanie Coady (accepting for Jacinta Maxwell) and last year's winner Mary Bolger.
volunteer of the year runner up
Left to Right: Martin Kenny's widow Patricia Kenny, Volunteer Ali Mubashair and last year's winner Mary Bolger.

And that's a wrap! Every cent spent in any one of our shops helps to support our vital work around the world. Thank you so much to our winner and finalists for their spectacular dedication and great work!

Find your local shop now and come say hi!

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Fashion Relief 2020: BIGGER AND BETTER

Awaken your inner sustainable shopper by joining us at this year’s Fashion Relief! You can bag a bargain from your favourite brand, boutique, designer or celeb and the best bit is you’ll be raising vital funds for our work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Sustainable Fashion Event

2020 Dates

Sunday 1st March - Galmont Hotel Galway

Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March - RDS Dublin

Don't miss your chance to:

  • Have fun!
  • Bag new, pre-loved designer and high-quality clothing from celebrities, Irish designers, top retailers, and more
  • Enjoy fashion shows, highlighting unique items from designers, boutiques and the stars
  • Get fashion advice and tips from leading Irish stylists and social influencers on the day
  • Grab yourself unbelievable bargains
  • Raise much-needed funds for people affected by poverty and disaster


Even if you’ve already got your ticket, there are lots of other ways to get involved!


Become part of the action by volunteering at the events! You could even staff your own stall, joining some of the stars who have generously pledged their clothes and time. You can volunteer for just one shift or an entire event!

Donate Your Pre-Loved Clothes and Accessories

  1. Bag up any pre-loved or new clothes, accessories or handbags – just make sure they’re in good condition and ready for the sale rail.
  2. Clearly label the bag/box FASHION RELIEF.
  3. Drop the bag/box to the nearest Oxfam Ireland shop. Find out where at oxfamireland.org/shops


Or you can organise a workplace clothing collection (men’s and women’s clothes and accessories) and Oxfam Ireland will pick it up directly from you - no hassle! Contact IRL-fashionrelief@oxfam.org.

More Info