‘Offbeat campaigns make a big difference’ – Oxfam Cambridge

Will Bennett 7 October 2017

Oxcam has carved itself a niche with ‘fun campaigns’, for participants and spectators.  Last term Miriam had 8 members don the garb of city bankers, and engage their Wall Street swagger.  She describes a parade of the 8 richest people in the world, who own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. They peep at the masses from their alcazars for just a moment, perhaps for as long as their moral capital allows them.  Miriam has made sure that this activist performing is what defines Oxcam.   ‘Sitting down with a blank piece of paper, doing some doodling and seeing what they come up with’ is her team’s favoured method.

‘Climate change affects everyone’ Miriam asserts as we begin to talk.  She establishes quickly that Oxcam doesn’t just campaign to prevent world-wide devastation, which is the image conjured in most minds by this kind of adage.  It directs a lot of its resources to the more pressing concern, that climate change threatens the lives of the ‘poorest in society’ every day.  That we could render the earth uninhabitable is a well-rehearsed line, and we are liable to forget the people whose lives are ruined before that point by increasingly freakish weather.  It strikes me early in our conversation that lots of us see global warming as a descent into one big cataclysm.  Miriam reinforces that it is a daily threat to millions of livelihoods.

She dissects huge issues with eloquence as we discuss Trump’s growing global entourage of climate change deniers.  She remarks that there is indeed an ‘increasing minority of loud voices speaking against climate change’ but they haven’t yet convinced the silent majority.  ‘We are in a particularly privileged position’ to help steady the consensus she adds.  Oxcam’s message that anyone and everyone can get involved to real effect comes through regularly in our conversation.  Of course Miriam doesn’t forget to mention the old aphorism, ‘small changes can make a really big difference’.

Climate change was Oxcam’s focus last term, and this Michaelmas it will be refugees.  The thoughtful nature of the group’s objection to the poverty of refugees is evident.  After the delicately rhymed ‘Stunt on a Punt’ seized Cambridge students’ attention last term, Oxfam Cambridge is putting on a play, “Rights of Passage”, this Michaelmas. The society’s fondness for word play is rivalled only by their commitment to fighting inequality.   The performance will be shown at Corpus Playroom between the 17th and 21st of October.  It details the odyssey of three refugees; a Ugandan, an Iranian and a Malay.   As described by the evet organisers, ‘they are all asylum seekers, they are all LGBT+, and their stories are all true.’