CHARITY shop volunteers have been left distraught after a dispute with management resulted in them being asked to leave and not come back.

Former workers at the Wessex Cancer Trust store, in Stoney Lane, Weeke, say that following a number of changes the relationship between volunteers and management broke down.

The dispute came to a head last Wednesday when a number of the volunteers, who are mostly pensioners and many of whom have been affected by cancer, were asked to leave their role at the charity shop, before police were called.

It is not clear what happened during the incident at around 9.30am, but a police spokesman said the person involved “left of their own accord”.

Cait Allen, managing director of WCT Wessex Limited, the business arm of the Wessex Cancer Trust, said: “Our Weeke charity store in Winchester is one of our most successful shops.

“Of course it is always sad when people want to damage this good work, so we have a zero tolerance against violence and aggression towards our staff.

“We have had to ask some of our volunteers to step down due to unacceptable behaviour towards employees and customers.

“Now these people have gone, we hope our customers will carry on donating and shopping as they have for many years.”

However, the volunteers who have left the shop either by dismissal or in protest, thought to be around a dozen, claim that following the retirement of the previous store manager, drastic changes have been made to the store with little consultation.

A letter to the chairman of trustees, Barry Rinaldi, was signed by volunteers and detailed the changes and the manner in which they were carried out.

The volunteers then say they were contacted by head of retail Janie Elliot-Dunn, who dismissed them either through a in-store meeting or by letter.

One letter, seen by the Hampshire Chronicle, said: “The core values of our organisation emphasise cooperation and mutual respect.

“I appreciate your past service but I hope you can understand that in order for the store to move forward we need volunteers who will embrace the changes.”

Reacting to the dismissals, one volunteer, who did not wish to be named, said: “We’ve never had any problems. I loved going there and loved the job.”

Another volunteer added: “It used to be like a family, the shop is nothing like it used to be.”