Salvation Army accused of heavy-handed tactics against small charities in Worthing

Tesco clothing banks

A Worthing charity fears its income could be cut by more than half after Tesco asked it to remove its textile recycling bins from their stores after agreeing an exclusive deal with the Salvation Army.

Worthing Community Chest receives around £10,000 a year thanks to donations at the three textile bins, which have been located outside the Tesco store for at least three years.

But the charity, which awards small grants of up to £1,500 to groups, clubs, events and other good causes in Worthing, fears these groups could miss out if Tesco takes the bins away.

Karl Allison, chairman of the Worthing Community Chest, said it would be a ‘major problem’, adding: “Because of where they are, the Tesco bins are incredibly important to us. They are easy to get to.

“We know from doing previous explorations that there is not another site as good as that. It wouldn’t be easy to replace.”

Tesco has said that, following a review of recycling areas across its sites, it had made an agreement to work with The Salvation Army to provide clothing banks and recycling areas at Tesco stores across the country.

The agreement means that some other charities had been asked to remove clothing banks from Tesco stores, a spokesman said.

Mr Allison said the charity was given ‘no warning at all’ and only discovered the news when Tesco placed notices on the textile bins in early December asking for them to be removed within 14 days.

He said: “There was never any notice to us that they were going to do this.

“Legally they’ve got the right to do it, but the way it’s been done is appalling.

“Local groups have not been consulted.

“Earlier warning of their removal would have given us time to seek alternative funding sources but there’s not much you can do with two weeks’ notice over the Christmas period.”

For now the textile bins remain at the site – but he fears they could be removed ‘at any point’.

Three Salving Army recycling points are also now in place at the Durrington store and Mr Allison is calling on Tesco to allow both charities to share the site.

He said there were enough donations to go around and that all six bins were ‘regularly full’.

He said: “We don’t want to remove The Salvation Army’s textile bins at Tesco, we just don’t want them to remove ours. Why can’t we share?”

Local councillors have spoken up in support of the Worthing Community Chest.

Councillor Martin McCabe (pictured above) said removing the bins would be a ‘death sentence’ for Worthing fundraising.

“We’re calling on Tesco to reverse this decision,” he said. “Don’t kill off this vital source for our local fundraising.

“The Worthing Community Chest does amazing work. We’d all love Tesco to keep working with us for the good of the community.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We recently carried out a review of recycling areas across our store estate.

“This followed a number of serious and on-going issues with fly-tipping which forced us to remove recycling facilities from a number of stores.

“As a result of the review we have agreed to work with The Salvation Army to provide clothing banks and recycling areas at Tesco stores across the country.

“This agreement will ensure that we can continue to provide the recycling facilities our customers want, whilst ensuring that clothing donation banks at our sites continue to raise funds for charity.

“This agreement does mean that some charities have been asked to remove their clothing banks from our sites.”

Kirk Bradley, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Salvation Army Trading Company, said:
“The Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCoL) is the trading arm of The Salvation Army and we raise money for their work with some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“SATCOL has been working with Tesco for many years and so when Tesco decided to centralise its clothes bank operation, we submitted an application and were pleased to win the contract.

“Unfortunately while clothing banks are an important source of income for many charities, the sites themselves can become a focus for fly tipping. SATCoL were awarded the contract as it has a nationwide network of collection drivers and several processing warehouses to ensure Tesco’s recycling sites are visited regularly, often daily, which ensures they are kept tidy which minimises fly tipping.

“We have been in touch with Tesco on behalf of Worthing Community Chest regarding the charity’s banks and they are not being removed for the time being. We will be actively seeking a meeting with the Chairman of the Worthing Community Chest, with the aim of establishing a partnership with them that could provide greater funding, subject to agreement with Tesco.”