Thursday, 19 November 2015

Little Things

Or how to win friends and influence people. 

There is trouble brewing at the charity shop. 

The manager received an email from the person in charge of the shops informing her that it costs the charity however much per year to pay for cups of tea and coffee for the volunteers, so this money can't come from petty cash any longer as the charity won't pay for it. 

The manager broke the news to us and as you can probably guess it didn't go down too well. She did speak up for us and sent an email back saying that we weren't happy about this to which the reply came that she, and the charity must not be "held to ransom" by volunteers (their words, not mine). 

Held to ransom. Seriously?

Surely a cup of tea is literally the least they can do for volunteers. I understand that if we want biscuits maybe we should take it in turns to buy them, or the manager should pay for them, the manager has always paid for biscuits out of pocket everywhere else I've been, including when I was a manager myself. But a cuppa I think is different, am I wrong? I know that many workplaces have a tea and coffee fund, but they're also paid positions, we don't get paid, we all have our reasons for volunteering but obviously we care at least a little bit about the charity without being paid to take an interest.

The manager is coming to the shop next week to discuss all matters financial and here's my problem, because if course it's when I'm going to be there. The manager has said we can defend our position should we so choose, but I see a problem, the area manager is going to tell my manager that emails are confidential and she is to implement new policies, not have a consultation period with volunteers, so anything volunteers say will come back to my manager as her speaking out of turn, if you see what I mean. 

I have always had a lot of time for this particular charity and while it doesn't really impact me personally as I take my own milk or fruit tea with me, what does irk me is the attitude. Using the phrase "held to ransom" doesn't exactly sound as though this person sees volunteers as valuable or people whose views should be respected. There are ways of saying things and had the reply said "these are tough times and we are asking everyone to do their bit to help us through" or similar that would have been a very different matter. I think it's very telling, the way someone speaks about people when they don't think they're going to hear says a lot about what they think in my opinion. 


20 comments:

  1. my goodness how ridiculous! if it wasn't for the volunteers they wouldn't even have charity shops! I agree a cup of tea is the very least they can do

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    1. It is isn't it, it's not as though we're taking flasks home with us.

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  2. For all the time people give, what's a cup of tea.

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    1. Exactly, all workplaces have expenses, at a charity shop hot drinks are one of them.

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  3. I wonder if there will be any volunteers at any of the shops by this time next week. As you say it is a very bad attitude problem, a cup of tea or coffee is the very least that should be available. I don't suppose this area manager is a volunteer who buys her own tea, or maybe I am just a cynic.

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    1. Some of the volunteers are quite upset, if we need to fund ourselves those of us who can will chip in, but there does seem to be a little air of volunteers being disposable creeping in.

      If she has a cup of tea next week when she visits I'll certainly ask her for her contribution to the tea fund.

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  4. If I were the manager, I wouldn't have reported the "held to ransom" reply because of the effect on morale!

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    1. I tend to agree with you. Although the response when some people heard that was "well we are, and proud to be!". I do think the manager will get a telling off for disclosing the information, which is a shame but I don't think it will stop her.

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  5. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Some people love being in charge and see everyone else as inferior. No easy solution, I feel sorry for your local manage.

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    1. You're right. I feel sorry for my manager too, she's in a difficult position. She'll come up with a workaround, we've already told her the cost is not to come out of her pocket.

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  6. this is a classic example of how not to treat people.
    I don't know what the charity is but all charities rely on volunteers - and the very least they do is provide tea and coffee.
    I would leak it to the press.
    And I would strike with banners outside the shop and get a photo in the local paper.
    No one should have to negotiate tea and coffee - it's pathetic.

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    1. It seems very much the case that they've looked at the figures but they've not looked at what's behind them, it's funny that such a hands on charity is not thinking about people at this time.

      Going to the local press has been suggested by a couple of our older ladies - they love a bit of direct action.

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  7. That is utterly appalling!!! It is the way of speaking to and about people which is shocking here. to say that about ransom is bizarre. If they said, would you mind chipping in every so often to pay for tea one might mind less (although STILL it is surely something that should go with the volunteering-getting a drink!).

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    1. I couldn't agree more.

      Those of us who can pay for our own would have very little issue in the main, had we been asked nicely. We weren't asked nicely, so it's going to cause upset. Bless one of my colleagues, she said "well, if they don't want us to have tea then we'll bring our own!" I replied that that's what they want us to do. "Oh, that's a total disgrace, we must fight it!" she said.

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  8. I find this persons manners/communication skills sadly lacking. As volunteers a cuppa is just a way of saying thanks for all your help. Many of the volunteer things that I take part in have a supper or lunch once a year as a thank you. I have also been given gift cards to be used in various locations around the city.

    God bless.

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    1. Thank you Jackie, I agree with you. We don't receive anything else from the charity, the shop manager and her deputy are contributing 50% to the shop Christmas buffet and anyone attending is paying the rest. Very generous of them.

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  9. Short-sighted decision. People give their time for FREE, a hot drink is their thank you. When I volunteered at our CAB ( a charity) tea, coffee, milk were provided. Biscuits and cakes were supplied on an voluntary basis by the volunteers.

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    1. I agree with you. I would be happy to do without biscuits (I don't eat them there anyway) but I would also be happy to take a packet in or contribute to a biscuit fund. It is a short sighted decision but I feel the general attitude now is that as volunteers can come via the job centre then there's a steady stream of people to take over when anyone leaves. It's very sad.

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  10. Disgusting!!

    All the charities I have worked for in both paid and voluntary capacities have provided tea, coffee AND biscuits for the volunteers.

    When I was the manager (of quite a few different charity shop chains) I always made sure there were alternatives for those who didn't drink tea or coffee out of my own pocket, squashes, cup a soups, herbal teas etc. The volunteers being on the premises with me meant I could get jobs behind the scenes done while they manned the tills and helped with sorting, so my first and most vital thought was to keep them happy.

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    1. Thank you Sue, it's a basic of the charity shop world isn't it.

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