WORKERS at Barnsley Hospice shops say they are worried the organisation is becoming 'too corporate' after being told their jobs are at risk of redundancy as part of a major shake-up.
The charity is looking to restructure its retail arm - which generates income of more than £1m a year - to make it more competitive.
The Chronicle understands about 26 staff across nine shops are affected and a consultation is now underway.
Bosses at the hospice - celebrating its 20th anniversary - say while it is in a healthy financial position, they need to secure its future for 'another 20 years and beyond',
The hospice is faced with the ongoing threat of funding cuts and competition on the high street as well as vying with other charities for donations to cover its £46,000-a-week running costs.
Letters obtained by the Chronicle were sent out to staff last Friday. One worried member said: "Everyone is distraught. We were called into a meeting and every single member of the retail team was put on notice.
"We were all given a letter - we can't believe it."
Instead of having a retail manager overlooking the shop teams, with a paid manager and supervisor in each shop, it is proposed to have one member of staff to manage retail, fund-raising and income overall, and then three area retail managers looking after three shops each, with a fourth area retail manager to oversee other aspects of the business.
An advert has already gone out for a business development director with a salary of between £45,000 and £50,000, although a hospice spokesman said the job description had not yet been written and the role may change as a result of the consultation.
A volunteer who has worked in a hospice shop for several years said the charity was becoming 'too corporate' and risked alienating the people who give their time and money.
"I feel very upset about it," he said. "The staff, and the volunteers, they're like a big family, it's tearing the family apart. I just don't think it will be the same.
"I worry people who give their time and money will just say 'that's it'. I'll support another charity."
Hospice chief executive Matt Wright was unavailable for comment but deputy marketing manager Zoe Mitchell issued a statement.
It stated: "The world is very different place in 2014 to 1994. Barnsley hospice is in a strong financial position and has to continuously adapt to changes in the surrounding world.
"The retail world has become more competitive and has seen major change with the growth of internet and out of town shopping.
"Fund-raising is seeing increasing competition from other charities, clothing collections and limited household budgets which means we have to grow and evolve as the outside world does.
"In the face of these changes the hospice has to look to the future to continue to grow and develop over the next 20 years. Internal structures are constantly being reviewed.
"Barnsley Hospice is currently consulting with retail colleagues about the structures needed to ensure the hospice retains its competitive edge and can continue to remain a key element of the income generation to the hospice."