Oxfam Bookshop, Petergate York

This is the blog for the Oxfam book shop, on Low Petergate in York

5th day of Oxmas: Pile of Poo

This post is part of the Twelve Days of Oxmas series which will run from the 1st to the 21st of December 2016. The series showcases some of the many Oxfam Unwrapped gifts, fair-trade products and books we have to offer in store and online. 

♪  ♫  

On the fifth day of Oxmas my true love sent to me

Five golden piles of poo! 

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Yes, you heard it, we are suggesting you literally give crap to your beloved this Christmas. And yes, you heard it too, it’s golden crap. Why is it golden? Because it helps end poverty of course!

How does it work, I hear you ask? Well, this magnificent and huge pile of poo is one of our many Oxfam Unwrapped presents; you buy it for your true love/worst enemy/evil step mother/pet pony and your money goes where it is most needed!


So we’re obviously not just gonna dump a pile of poo on the farmers’ houses and children, but what happens is that Oxfam will deliver this ideal mix of manure, organic fertiliser and training in eco-friendly farming techniques to help a family grow a lot more crops. This means regular meals, a more varied diet and the chance to earn a better income to pay for things like school fees.

A story of a family’s life improved by Oxfam’s pile of poo:

Patricia Darbeh’s neighbourhood in Monrovia (Liberia) always lacked decent water supplies and a sewerage system. Even the few toilet blocks that existed were usually unclean and unpleasant to use. Three years ago, Patricia was chosen to have a special toilet installed in her home. Not only are they clean and hygienic, but they contain tiger worms that can compost the family’s poo and turn it into fertiliser that’s safe enough to grow vegetables to eat and sell. This poo is literally life changing! “We use the wastewater for fertilising the garden. I used to spend 450 Liberian dollars (£3.60) a week on vegetables. Now, I don’t spend money because I grow my own.”


Read more about this Oxfam Unwrapped gift and buy it online here, or simply pop into our shop to get it!

Your support of Oxfam Unwrapped allows vital work to be carried out in communities that desperately need help. Find out more about Oxfam Unwrapped here and here.



♪  ♫  

…Four Chalet School books
Three pots of Swazi preserves,
Two Red Phone Box Books,
And a winter warming kit for the refugees

♪  ♫  

4th day of Oxmas: the Chalet School books

This post is part of the Twelve Days of Oxmas series which will run from the 1st to the 21st of December 2016. The series showcases some of the many Oxfam Unwrapped gifts, fair-trade products and books we have to offer in store and online. 

♪  ♫  

On the fourth day of Oxmas my true love sent to me

Four Chalet School books… 

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As you might know from a previous blog post, we had a wonderful donation of some of the Chalet School books some time ago and we are selling them online on ABEbooks.

We used to have quite a decent sized collection and luckily for you, we still have four of them left! Wouldn’t one of them make an excellent Christmas present for Chalet School enthusiast?


The Chalet School is a series of approximately sixty school story novels by Elinor Brent-Dyer, published between 1925 and 1970. They are extremely popular books nowadays and hardbacks complete with dust-jackets are highly sought after.


The stories happen in a school initially located in Austria. It moves to Guernsey in 1939, following the rise to power of the Nazi Party, then to “Plas Howell”, a house on the border of England and Wales, then to St Briavels, close to the English-Welsh border, and finally to Switzerland.

The sister of the main character, Jo, founds the school to generate a much needed income and look after young Jo, who is ill. The books follow their lives and that of other girls at the school, and sees them growing up and having children of their own who attend the Chalet School themselves.


The Chalet School books are fun to read when you’re a kid, but this puzzling, silly, repetitious, unintentionally funny, pious, charming and peculiar series is even better when you’re an adult, which is why prices of Elinor M Brent-Dyer hardbacks are going through the roof.

Suzi Feay, the Independent, November 3rd, 1996.

On our ABEbooks, you can currently find:


You can also browse all of our books on our ABEbooks and you might find some treasures! Just click here.

♪  ♫  

…Three pots of Swazi preserves,
Two Red Phone Box Books,
And a Winter Warming kit for the refugees.

♪  ♫  

3rd day of Oxmas: Eswatini Kitchen, artisan preserves from Swaziland

This post is part of the Twelve Days of Oxmas series which will run from the 1st to the 21st of December 2016. The series showcases some of the many Oxfam Unwrapped gifts, fair-trade products and books we have to offer in store and online. 

♪  ♫  

On the third day of Oxmas my true love sent to me

Three pots of Swazi preserves… 

♪  ♫   ♪


An original and exotic gift for anyone who likes cooking or simply for someone wants to try something new!

In our shop you’ll be able to find these two different packs of Swazi preserves: a savoury range, including hot mango chutney, “Flaming Swazi Fire” spice mix and lime pickle, and a sweet range including lime marmelade, peach and ginger jam and ruby grapefruit marmelade.

Both packs come with a hand carved spoon!

Eswatini Kitchen was established in 1991 in home_img2Swaziland by Manzini Youth Care (MYC), an NGO supporting marginalized youth in the country. The main objective was to create employment for disadvantaged women, provide a market for small local farmers and rural families who harvested wild fruit. The profit generated was to be destined to fund Manzini Youth Care’s social programmes.

Within two years the project was breaking even and reaching its goal of employing disadvantaged women.


Nowadays, Eswatini Kitchen is a fair trade producer of natural gourmet food, certified by WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) and COFTA (Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa). They have grown from a small cottage industry to a thriving business that is enhancing the lives of underprivileged communities by providing a fair and sustainable income for over 300 people in Swaziland, and devoting all its proceeds to the Manzini Youth Care initiatives, which support more than 2000 marginalised children and young people in the country.

From Eswatini Kitchen’s website

So why not support Fair Trade, marginalised young people, disadvantaged women and your tastebuds and get this awesome gift in our shop right now?

♪  ♫  

… Two Red Phone Box Books,
And a winter warming kit for the refugees

♪  ♫  



2nd day of Oxmas: The Red Phone Box

This post is part of the Twelve Days of Oxmas series which will run from the 1st to the 21st of December 2016. The series showcases some of the many Oxfam Unwrapped gifts, fair-trade products and books we have to offer in store and online. 

♪  ♫  

On the second day of Oxmas my true love sent to me

Two Red Phone Box books… 

♪  ♫   ♪

It began as an experiment.

In 2011, Salomé Jones was a graduate student in London. She fell in love with the beautiful red telephone boxes she saw around the city. To her they were a place of magic. So she wrote a story set in and around one and put it up on her website, inviting writers to send in stories that connected to it in at least two ways. She began to get a lot of submissions, which she published on her site. Two years later, after a lot of work by Salome, Tim and numerous other writers and artists, Ghostwoods Books, then a fledgling company, published the book with the help of a successful Kickstarter. It was called Red Phone Box: A Darkly Magical Story Cycle.

From the Ghostwoods Books website

Sounds like an interesting concept doesn’t it? We’re really tempted to read it now… If you are too, or better, know someone who would be, come into our shop! We have a signed copy of the book!



♪  ♫  

…And a winter warming kit for the refugees

♪  ♫  


1st day of Oxmas: Winter Warmers from Oxfam Unwrapped

This post is part of the Twelve Days of Oxmas series which will run from the 1st to the 21st of December 2016. The series showcases some of the many Oxfam Unwrapped gifts, fair-trade products and books we have to offer in store and online. 

♪  ♫  

On the first day of Oxmas my true love sent to me… a winter warmer kit for the refugees

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The Winter Warmers is one of our many Oxfam Unwrapped presents. The way it works is simple: you buy it for your true love/best friend/mum/third cousin twice removed/puppy and your money goes where it is most needed!

Your support of Oxfam Unwrapped allows vital work to be carried out in communities that desperately need help. Find out more about Oxfam Unwrapped here and here.


Oxfam winter kits contain essential items to help see refugees through winter, things that they wouldn’t have if they’ve fled their homes in an emergency. It can include items like warm bedding, jerry cans and buckets for carrying water, tools and salt for clearing snow, and waterproof plastic sheeting. So when winter comes, your gift can help keep people warm and dry. This gift supports our Responding in an Emergency (RE) projects.

Your Christmas Winter Warmers gift in action: 

In Lebanon, Oxfam is helping Syrian refugees like Hanin to stay warm through winter. Hanin fled Syria with her husband and one-year-old son after their home was destroyed during fighting. They were able to move in with Hanin’s extended family in Lebanon, but facilities are basic and they had no heating. Her main priority was her son’s safety. At night Hanin and her husband would give him all of their blankets, while they would struggle to sleep in the cold. Oxfam provided the family with a much-needed heater to keep them warm during cold winter months. “With a heater everything is different. We can all stay warm and I don’t have to worry so much about my son and that he might get sick.” Oxfam winter kits provide essential support to families like Hanan’s to help keep them safe until they can get back on their feet.


Buy it online here or pop in store to get it!

Twelve days of Oxmas!

If you’ve been a fervent follower of our blog (You haven’t?! How dare you. ) you might remember that last Christmas we celebrated the twelve days of Oxmas on the blog. Well, guess what, we’re doing it again this year!

From the 1st to the 21st of December, we’ll be posting about twelve fantastic Christmas presents available in our shop on Petergate or on our online shop.

So keep your eyes peeled for our posts and discover our best books, Christmas Unwrapped gifts and beautiful fair-trade products to treat your family and friends this Christmas!



Geek Night


On the 10th November we are celebrating the opening of our new ‘Geek Culture’ online shop! We will be re-opening from 18:30-20:00 and providing you with refreshments as well as the opportunity to buy items from our Oxfam Online Store.
Bring along any geek culture items you would like to donate, such as sci-fi/fantasy/horror books, comics, films, games, or memorabilia (we of course won’t be turning other things away!)

Oxfam Books Petergate’s Oxfam Online Shop ( will be selling sci-fi, fantasy and horror books, comics, sci-fi/fantasy boxset and film DVDs, Anime DVDs, miniature wargames and RPG rulebooks, retro console games, seminal PC games and other things appealing to geeks in York and elsewhere.

Sam Gimes, a long-term volunteer expressed his enthusiasm: “I’ve been working on creating the online shop for two months, and I’m really excited about it finally launching! It will be good to see the result of my work.”

Shop manager Nick Smith declared: “This is a new way for the shop to make more money for Oxfam. With the refugee crisis, the crisis in Yemen and the Haiti Hurricane adding to the work Oxfam is involved in; there is more need than ever for Oxfam to gather funds.”

Happy Halloween!


Good evening everyone, and happy Halloween! We’re definitely feeling festive at Oxfam Petergate- if you’ve visited the shop you’ll have seen our super spooky window display complete with some of the scariest donated books we could find! To mark this spooktacular night I decided to ask some Facebook friends and frequent haunters of Oxfam Bookshop about their favourite horror novels and scary fictional characters. If you’re looking for a quieter, more sheltered way to feel scared this Halloween, here’s some recommendations of books you can find in Oxfam Bookshops.


Demi recommended that I look at some Roald Dahl books, so I decided to scope out the shop and see what I could find.


Rather than choosing a Roald Dahl classic, I came across Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories, a collection of horror stories handpicked by the man himself. My favourite is probably The Corner Shop by Cynthian Asquith, but there’s 13 other stories to choose from.


“Spookiness is the real purpose of the ghost story. It should give you the creeps and disturb your thoughts…” – Roald Dahl

If that quote is anything to go by, I’d say this book is worth a read on Halloween.


Laura recommended Horns by Joe Hill- sensationalized by the movie Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe. Horns was nominated for the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel and incorporates elements of contemporary fantasy, crime fiction, and Gothic fiction. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.


Now onto some scary characters, and of course we have to start off with the ultimate all-knowing villain, Big Brother from 1984 by George Orwell.


I read 1984 when I was in my early teens and this character stayed with me for years. He is ostensibly the leader (most likely a symbolic figurehead) of Oceania, a totalitarian state wherein the ruling Party wields total power “for its own sake” over the inhabitants. Big Brother was recently named as Literature’s Scariest Character in an ABE Books poll, and I can totally understand why. If you like to be scared in a very real and rather political way, 1984 is the book for you.

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

Beth seemed very impressed by Anne Rice’s Lasher from The Witching Hour.


The Witching Hour (1990) by Anne Rice is the first novel in the Lives of the Mayfair Witches series. It begins the tale of a family of witches, and a spirit that has guided their fortunes for generations.


Beth wasn’t the only person who was impressed by Anne Rice, as Nick mentioned Claudia from Interview with a Vampire.


Claudia is a fictional character in Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series. She is one of the main characters in Interview with the Vampire (1976). Claudia (her last name is never given) was a young girl who lived in the very poor, plague-ravaged quarters of 18th century New Orleans until she was turned by the vampire Lestat. Not only is she super creepy, but she’s also inspired countless Halloween costumes after Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of her.


Now we’re going to talk about one of my favourite fictional character’s of all time, Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff from her novel Wuthering Heights.


Although Wuthering Heights is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature, contemporary reviews for the novel were deeply polarised; it was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was unusually stark, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day, including religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality. I read the novel after seeing Tom Hardy’s depiction of Heathcliff in a two part ITV special and immediately became fascinated by Heathcliff’s character. He is a character that readers have sympathy for- a victim of bullying, prejudice, and Cathy’s selfishness- but throughout the novel we witness him commit some truly heinous acts, and that does make him pretty scary.  He infamously exhumes Cathy’s body, a scene that completely surpassed all standards of ‘gothic’- but what’s worse is that Bronte originally intended for him to consume Cathy’s flesh, and her sister talked her out of it (thank goodness).


“He’s not a rough diamond – a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic; he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man.”

If you want to check out some more scary books you can visit our shop on Low Petergate or visit our online store. Our Online Spotlight of the week is the suitably eerie Back-Slash by Bill Kitson, available for just £29.99 here:

Don’t forget to spare a thought for those who aren’t out celebrating Halloween this year by visiting our Oxfam GB make a donation page:

To read about our Oxfam GB Halloween Boxpark Pop-up fundraiser, click here:



Oxjam music festival takes place every October, and after 10 years it’s still going strong. Every year thousands of volunteers celebrate music in their local community by organising gigs in support of Oxfam GB. Oxjam reaches out to the music-loving people of the UK, to unite them with the shared goal of raising money to fight poverty and suffering.

Last week, we at Oxfam Petergate attended our local Oxjam music festival- and we filmed the whole thing! (Hover your mouse over the video and click the icon in the right hand corner for full screen).

Everyone was dancing, drinking, laughing, enjoying the music, and just generally having a great time. I often feel that in charity we spend a lot of time focusing on the dreadful things that are happening in the world- and that is essential, of course, in order to change things and stop these people from suffering. But it’s refreshing to see that impact that charity has not just by changing people’s lives, but also by bringing joy to ours.

If you’re interested in organising an Oxjam gig, or just generally want to know more about what the festival is, you can visit:

Image result for oxfam how to donate

I’d also just like to remind readers that Oxfam has several ongoing emergency appeals. If this video has inspired you to get more involved in the amazing work that Oxfam does, you can make a start by donating here:

  • Haiti Hurricane:
  • Yemen Crisis:
  • West Africa Crisis Appeal:
  • Ethiopia Food Crisis:
  • Syria Crisis:
  • Burundi Refugee Crisis:

You can also donate directly to any of these appeals by asking the cashier next time you’re purchasing anything from an Oxfam store.

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