Oxfam: Fat Abbots and Seedy Priors

Oxfam is currently hit by scandal. Its aid workers have allegedly been employing prostitutes from the very communities they were supposed to be serving. As well as the legal and moral questions this raises, one wonders how this must make these devastated communities feel. Westerners yet again taking advantage of poorer people.

Oxfam was founded in Oxford by Quakers and others during the second world war. Its founders sought to relieve starving people in Greece and Belgium, and as the war concluded, in Germany itself. It is now a much bigger, richer and professional organisation, and I have no doubt it has been a significant force for good.

Many British charities, however, scandalously remunerate their chief executives and other managers with eye-watering sums of money. Oxfam is not among the worst 100 for 2017, but it still pays its top earners over £120,000- that’s a lot of people’s donations. Like the abbeys and monasteries of old, their modern equivalents are become fat and perhaps not-a-little self-serving. They too were mired in claims of sexual and financial mismanagement. The government withholding its annual Oxfam donation of thirty-two million might bring these latter-day abbots and priors back to basics.