Members of the Leven branch of the British Legion have hit out at a number of High Street shops which have refused to sell poppies in the run up to Armistice Day.
Several members from the local branch, based in North Street, visited local town centre stores and went to retail park last Monday to hand out Poppy Scotland collection tins ahead of Remembrance Sunday - and they were “completely disgusted” to be told by nearly half that they would not place them on their tills or counters.
“We were really angry,” said one committee member. “We couldn’t believe it. It’s despicable and disgusting that they won’t support our forces.
“Some of the shops we visited had other charity tins at the till, but refused ours when we are only asking for support for two weeks of the year.”
High Street shops which refused to take the tins included Poundland, Farmfoods, Carlton Bakery, Peacocks, New Look, Mad Hackers, and Thomsons travel agents, while Home Bargains in the retail park also refused, despite supporting the branch in previous years.
The committee said that snubs will impact on donations.
“We’ve had a donation of £30 from Pfaudler Balfour for many years, and they upped that to £50 this year, while Diageo doubled their contribution to £100 – but that will still not be enough to make up the shortfall.”
The closure of Cummings has also been a massive blow to the branch as it was a strong supporter of the annual appeal.
And with so many empty units and a number of charity shops, which do not take tins as well, the branch committee is worried about the level of donations this year.
“There just isn’t any reason behind this - they just tell us they’re not allowed.”
After hearing about the problems encountered by the legion members, Councillor Charles Haffey, armed forces champion for Fife Council, said: “Not just as a representative for the armed forces, but as an veteran myself, I would urge all of stores on the High Street to take these poppy tins. A poppy costs the individual a couple of pennies, but the price to the nation has been incalculable. I would urge everyone to support Royal Legion Scotland and their forces at this time of year, and all year round.”
The East Fife Mail contacted all of the shops involved to enquire about their policy regarding the support of the Poppy Scotland Appeal.
Farmfoods refused to comment, while Carlton Bakery said their company policy was to support another charity – Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland – all year round. Similarly, a representative for Mad Hackers said the shop was already supporting other charities.
A spokesman for Thomson said: “We supports a number of official charity partners each year as part of the TUI Group and is committed to raising funds in the UK, on board our flights and through our overseas teams.
‘‘We encourage retail colleagues to fundraise for official partners in store. The decision to support other charities on occasion is at the discretion of each individual store manager.
‘‘On this occasion, there was a misunderstanding and this request was denied. We would like to apologise for any upset caused.”
A spokesman for Peacocks refuted the committee’s claims, commenting: “We do indeed sell poppies from the store and customers are able to make a donation to the charity.
“There is currently a poppy box at the till point, clearly displayed for customers who wish to make a donation and take a poppy.”
Despite numerous attempts to contact Card Factory and Poundland, at the time of going to deadline, no response was given.
In a welcome turn of events, New Look has now agreed to take a tin from the local branch while Ines Dearman, community engagement manager at Home Bargains, said: “Home Bargains is a long-standing supporter of the Poppy Appeal. We have spoken to the local branch of the Royal British Legion and assured them we are delighted to support its important fundraising efforts.”