Wandsworth Oasis: Celebrating 30 Years
As local charity Wandsworth Oasis gear up to celebrate thirty years of HIV support and prevention, we look at what it has done for the local community in its time
Wandsworth Oasis was founded in June 1989 so in 2019 we are celebrating 30 years of HIV support and prevention work. The charity was originally set up in the midst of the AIDS pandemic that swept across the world killing an estimated 39 million people. At that time, we offered a volunteer-led drop-in and support service to those affected by AIDS, their families and loved ones who were suffering from extreme prejudice and misinformation. The work was funded by a charity shop on Battersea Park Road.
During the course of the 1980s and 1990s, many HIV/AIDS charities started up offering professional support programmes and end of life care. The Trustees of Wandsworth Oasis decided to close the drop-in centre and focus on what they were good at – raising funds through charity shops. Over the next 20 years a further four shops were opened in the Wandsworth area and the charity started a small grants programme for other HIV charities to apply to and gave out more than £500,000.
Over the last decade much has changed. Infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, no longer means a death sentence today. In fact, most HIV positive people today who have access to modern medication are expected to live a normal lifespan. However, there are still more than 100,000 people with an HIV diagnosis in the UK, many of whom still suffer from stigma, and one in 12 people with HIV do not know they have the virus. The prevalence of HIV is particularly high in London and in south west London postcodes. So the charity is still very much needed.
The focus of Wandsworth Oasis has also had to change. Our aims today are to work in partnership with other organisations to challenge stigma, support the London prevention agenda by raising awareness of how the virus is spread as well as supporting vulnerable people living with HIV. Over the last 10 years, we have given grants in excess of £600,000 generated by 10 shops, mainly to projects in south west London or to pan London projects accessible to local people. We are blessed to have great community support that we work hard to maintain. We have a 22 strong staff team (12 FTE) working alongside our volunteer team and trustees. Almost without exception, all our retail staff had volunteered with us for at least two years before joining the staff team and many had been long term unemployed. The team, led by CEO Gill Perkins, goes the extra mile in the community – being supporters of local networking organisation such as the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce, running stalls at community events, and hosting out of hours events in the shops.
We are also very proud of our community volunteer programme that focuses on giving individuals an opportunity to engage successfully with the charity – if you know anyone who is looking to improve their language skills, wants some customer oriented work experience, has learning or mental health problems and looking for something to do, we can probably help. Ask them to get in touch with our Head Office on 0203 638 1630.
We will be marking our 30th Anniversary with a performance of Bizet’s Carmen by Rogue Opera at Wandsworth Civic Suites. Carmen is a beautiful and flamboyant classic which fits well with the brand of Wandsworth Oasis – loud and proud, quirky and slightly mad. Tickets are just £30 which includes dinner. www.wandsworthoasis.org.uk/Event bizets-carmen.
We have a programme of events throughout the year – sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out. Our signature World AIDS Day event The Red Ribbon Cabaret is on Thursday 28th November.
Five ways to get involved
As a small community-based charity, we rely on support from the local community
- If you are decluttering, downsizing, moving house or know anyone who is, please bear us in mind. We can collect large or bulky items for free. We accept clothing, accessories, furniture, electrical items, books, music and kids stuff
- Volunteer with us – it is such fun, no minimum hours
- Shop with us – you will be amazed at some of the fabulous items in our shops
- Come to an event and help us raise awareness and funds
- Undertake a challenge event for us – get in touch
Visit our shops
553 Battersea Park Road
310 Battersea Park Road
195 Upper Richmond Road, Putney
45 Old Town, Clapham
138 Garratt Lane, Earlsfield
127 Mitcham Lane, Furzedown
234 Mitcham Road, Amen Corner
40 Trinity Road, Tooting Bec
2 Leigham Court Road, Streatham Hill
61 Balham High Road, Balham
POP UP Furniture 225 Upper Richmond Road, Putney
020 3638 1630