VOLUNTEERS at a Keighley charity shop have been "let go" – but told they can reapply for roles later if they wish.

The half-dozen-plus volunteers at the Yorkshire Cat Rescue outlet, in Cavendish Street, were given the shock news – "with immediate effect" – in a memo from the chief executive officer.

According to the memo, following "a lot of change and disruption within the Keighley store team", new ways of working are being introduced at the shop which management says the team will "need to get used to before introducing volunteers back".

The move, and the nature of the message, has come under fire.

Helen Tomes, who has helped at the shop for five years, says: "This generic memo came totally out of the blue.

"It was a tremendous shock to all the volunteers, who have given their time and skills for many years.

"This is a charity that claims to value its volunteers and states that it would not be financially viable without them.

"I don't seek to denounce the charity or the valuable work it does with the cats in its care, but on this occasion I feel it has fallen short in its professed gratitude and need for the donation of time.

"An invitation to apply to another shop or reapply to Keighley for a volunteer role is not acceptable when the author of the memo could not even tell us the decision face-to-face, nor address each of us by name."

Chief executive officer Lynn Nicholls says the charity does value its volunteers, and that a memo was the most "practical" way of communicating.

She adds: "Unfortunately the Keighley shop has not been doing well for the last few years and isn’t profitable.

"There hasn't been any stable management there either, which hasn’t helped, and at one point we considered closing the shop. But rather than doing that we decided to employ some new staff to work with the remainder and try to start from a clean slate, with some fresh ways of working. Letting the new team bond on its own seems the best way to get everyone on the same page. Then when we invite volunteers back, the staff have a clear line of expectation and can train them in the new ways of doing things.

"I completely understand it would have been much more personal to speak to each volunteer individually, but that was just not practical as they all work different times and days, so unfortunately – with no manager in the shop – a memo was the easiest way to communicate with everyone and give the same message.

"We value all our volunteers across the charity. Our Keighley volunteers have not been dismissed, we have simply asked them to step down while we get the paid team sorted. As the memo says, we plan to be recruiting volunteers in the next month or two, and they are welcome to apply and come back to the Keighley shop at that time."