Thousands have stood up for a former bakery manager, who was fired earlier this year after paying for customers’ orders with her own card so they could use cash.
After working at Birds Bakery in Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, for 44 years, Megan Metcalfe was sacked in June after breaking health and safety guidelines put in place due to the current pandemic.
The 60-year-old had been using her own bank card to pay for elderly customers’ purchases, who didn’t have the means to use card or contactless payments and only had cash. While the firm said she was let go ‘with regret’ for breaking coronavirus policies, others aren’t standing idly by.
Two online petitions surfaced in the wake of Metcalfe’s sacking, both calling for her to be reinstated at the bakery. One of the Change.org petitions, titled ‘Sacked for being kind – Get Megan Metcalfe her Job back at Birds Bakery’, has racked up more than 15,000 signatures at the time of writing.
The other, titled ‘Cash to be accepted at Birds Bakery and the Reinstatement of Megan Metcalfe’, has amassed more than 11,000 signatures.
Metcalfe, who took 45 cash payments at a total of £183 from customers, subsequently using her own card to pay that money back to the bakery and keeping all receipts, told BBC News: ‘I was made to feel really bad for helping lots of people. These are the people that have been shopping with them for years and keeping their business up, and for them to just want to turn them away is disgusting.’
She added: ‘[Birds] are not going to reinstate me, but they haven’t made any form of apology to these customers. Not everybody wants to use card payments. Some people don’t want a card and some aren’t allowed one.’
While Metcalfe is now employed at a local care home, she’s said it’s ‘wonderful’ to have the support of the townspeople. Her dismissal echoes the concerns of Age UK, who earlier warned of a ‘headlong rush’ to enforcing card-only payments when elderly people may not be able to do so.
One of the petitions’ organisers, Katherine Clarke, explained that people are ‘disgusted and outraged… everyone is so angry about the way she has been treated. She was only trying to help her community’.
Clarke added: ‘Don’t discriminate against people that don’t have a bank card, especially the elderly as that’s their main customer demographic.’
Lesley Bird, CEO of the bakery, expressed regret over feeling compelled to ask Metcalfe to ‘leave the business’. However, ‘a lot of our customer base are the elderly and it is our responsibility to keep them, and our staff, safe,’ she said.
Bird added: ‘Like many other food outlets, during this pandemic we have asked customers to only use debit cards because notes and coins are not clean.’
There’s been no further update regarding Metcalfe’s reinstatement at the bakery.
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