Great Britain

Upset staff leave shop

A CHARITY’S shop in the Bradford district has been closed suddenly after staff were reportedly suspended.

Samaritans has closed its shop in Shipley and a note pinned to the door claims this is due to “staffing problems”.

However, the Telegraph & Argus understands several staff have been suspended for breaching confidentiality rules by contacting their colleagues by using their internal emails.

It comes after a vote of no confidence was reported to have been held against senior Bradford bosses of the charity.

Stephen Yates, the partner of a volunteer, said he had attended two Extraordinary General Meetings of the Samaritans branch over the summer and voted by-proxy in the vote of no confidence.

He said bosses agreed to put an “improvement plan” in place to address the issues staff said they were experiencing.

While some of the issues were cleared up, bosses are believed to have taken the unusual step of deciding to suspended volunteers for contacting their colleagues and updating them about the on-going problems at the branch.

Anger at the way they were suspended then led to a vote of no confidence taking place against the director, which he lost, in August.

The suspended volunteers are now awaiting the outcome of an investigation into their alleged behaviour.

Mr Yates said: “Some of these people are very distressed about what has gone on. “It is a real mess.

“The way they have handled the volunteers to bring this about has showed they haven’t treated them very well.

“Some things have been improved but there has been a lot of upset and people believe the way the members have been suspended is upsetting.

“They believe they shouldn’t have been treated in this way.”

A member of staff working in another store close to the Shipley charity shop, in Westgate, said the shop has been shut for around two weeks and charity donations are being taken in by other businesses while the store remains closed.

The Samaritans also has a branch in Mornington Villas, in Manningham, but no-one from the charity was available to speak to a reporter from the Telegraph & Argus when we went to the building.

A spokeswoman for The Samaritans refused to comment on the vote of no confidence because internal reviews and investigations were ongoing.

She said: “The Samaritans shop in Shipley has been temporarily closed and will be open again soon.

“Samaritans has been working with the Bradford branch on issues raised by volunteers.

“Without our volunteers, we would not be able to answer the calls for help that we receive every six seconds and their contribution is valued throughout the organisation.

“We therefore place importance on investigating anything that could be causing our volunteers a problem and have due processes in place to ensure complaints are examined thoroughly and impartially before deciding on the appropriate outcome.

“These discussions have not affected the running of the branch, where volunteers continue to answer calls for help from anyone who needs emotional support.”

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