Charity shop volunteers mutiny over plans for a paid supervisor

Nick Cater

Elderly volunteers have taken over a Brainwave shop and set up a successful rival operation after the charity tried to bring in a paid employee.

The volunteers have run the charity shop in Martock, Somerset, since it opened in the village in the early 1990s. But all 15 of them walked out of a meeting when they were told that a supervisor was being appointed.

Brainwave withdrew from the village and the volunteers agreed with the landlord to take over the premises. The reopened shop, which raises money for local children's charities, has been so overwhelmed with gifts of goods to sell that it has had to turn away donors.

The charity, which is based in nearby Bridgwater, has 15 shops in south-west England and has been introducing staff to help volunteers maximise their fundraising and meet health and safety requirements.

David Davies, chief executive of Brainwave, told Third Sector that he and the charity's trustees had met the volunteers to discuss the new arrangements, but said that "they seemed to have their own agenda".

He added: "We have been introducing supervisors for three or four years to ensure that our shops comply with health and safety rules, and that they deal with goods and money from sales as transparently as we are required to by the Charity Commission.

"About 75 per cent of our shops have paid supervisors and, in every case, they have helped increase turnover to bring in more income."

A spokeswoman for the volunteers said they objected to someone being paid to do what they did for free.

Local supporters of Brainwave, which provides therapy for children experiencing developmental delay from brain injury or genetic disorder, have been asked to take their goods to the charity's next nearest outlet.

KEY POINTS

- Volunteers at a Brainwave charity shop in Somerset staged a mass walkout after being told a supervisor was to be appointed

- The volunteers took over the shop, and have since been overwhelmed by gifts and donations

- Brainwave said it had been introducing supervisors to comply with health and safety rules and to maximise its fundraising potential.

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