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Majority of charities report shop workers have been abused by customers

Several incidents highlighted involved shoppers being asked to comply with coronavirus safety measures.

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Many charities have reported their shop staff and volunteers being abused by customers (Barnardo’s/PA)

Many charities have reported their shop staff and volunteers being abused by customers (Barnardo’s/PA)

Many charities have reported their shop staff and volunteers being abused by customers (Barnardo’s/PA)

Seven in 10 charities say their shop volunteers or staff have been verbally abused when asking customers to comply with coronavirus safety measures, according to a survey.

Seventy per cent of charities surveyed by the Charity Retail Association (CRA) said they had received reports from their shops of abusive behaviour.

CRA’s 440 members make up around 9,000 of the UK’s 11,000 charity shops, and 184 responded to the survey between October 12 and 14.

One respondent said an elderly volunteer was sworn and spat at in one of their shops.

The CRA was also told of an incident in which a customer threw stock at a volunteer who asked them to sanitise their hands.

In another incident, two staff members were verbally abused when asking someone to put on a face covering. The customer then coughed in their faces.

The survey also found more than half of respondents (53%) said abuse has increased in the last month.

The CRA is launching a campaign, #ShopSafeShopKind, to encourage shoppers to be mindful of their behaviour towards staff and other customers and wear a face covering, unless they are exempt.

Robin Osterley, CRA chief executive, said: “We saw huge amounts of kindness and camaraderie from the public during lockdown and as shops reopened, and we want to bring back this sense of togetherness.

“It is a source of sadness to us as a sector that charity shop workers are being subject to abuse, especially as the majority are giving their time and skills on a voluntary basis.

“We would like to see everyone working together as a team to make it through this difficult and uncertain time, and to make charity shopping a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone.

“We are urging shoppers to #ShopSafeShopKind.”

PA