Christine Ansell, CEO, Wandsworth Oasis

About Wandsworth Oasis

Wandsworth Oasis is a local charity raising money for people living with HIV, largely through its nine charity shops in and around the borough.

Opportunity: Influencing change

“I am most excited about the change we can influence in our HIV Community and the part we can play in helping end new transmissions of HIV in England by 2030. There is still a huge stigma associated with HIV both in the UK and globally, and by being part of the dialogue openly talking about HIV and raising awareness that it can affect anyone, the steps you can take to protect yourself from contracting it and any other sexually transmitted disease. We will increase our visibility both in person at events talking about HIV and display information in our chain of charity retail shops educating people about it and signposting to organisations that can offer discrete testing and more in-depth information.”

Challenge: Volunteering shortage

“Our biggest challenge is to attract volunteers to help us achieve our aim of raising funds to help raise awareness of HIV and support the lives of those living with it. Since COVID the number of people volunteering across the UK has dropped. We would love to have more people volunteering in our shops being part of their local community. It can help with building personal confidence, increasing the circle of friends and acquaintances, and for some people who have recently come to the UK, help with their communication skills. Wandsworth Oasis is growing; we will be increasing the number of charity shops we have in our portfolio and with growth you need to make sure everything is fit for future purpose and that means attracting volunteers with specific skills to help in areas such as fundraising. We would love to have volunteers who help at our fundraising events, or who would like to run an event on our behalf; quiz nights or sponsored walks and runs are always popular. We also need helpers at the quarterly Disney Snatch Games we run in Clapham which are amazing fun.”

Change: Restructuring management team to diversify income streams

“Charities are very often working hard, raising their own funds, to keep their operations running that ultimately help the specialist area we focus on. External funding, grants and financial support has diminished with the economic climate we have found ourselves in. Everything costs more, especially utility charges and lease costs, for a chain of charity shops. All money out impacts the important work we do for the HIV community. We run as lean an operation as we can but know we must attract corporate donations, build relationships and partnerships that can attract much needed expertise, quality corporate donated goods we can promote through our shops. This is an area we have been working on and in response to these challenges have restructured our management team to develop diversifying our income streams. This means investing in a new Fundraising Manager position, we believe and hope this will result in identifying new ways to ultimately support the HIV causes that rely on organisations like Wandsworth Oasis to survive and help those who need it the most.”

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