akt recognises that it is only with the support of our volunteers, employees and service users that we can succeed in our mission to provide a pathway to a better future for lgbtq+ young people living in hostile environments, experiencing, or at risk of homelessness. It is therefore vital for akt to know when things go wrong so we can try and put things right and improve. Feedback on positive experiences is also welcomed – we can use that feedback to recognise and build on good practice and to encourage similar experiences for others.
If and when things do go wrong, we believe that it is best to deal with things straightaway before they grow into a big issue. We also believe that complaints should be addressed in ways that are professional, practical, personable and positive so that complaints can be satisfactorily resolved, and the same issue avoided in the future.
AIMS OF THIS POLICY:
This Policy aims to:
- provide a clear, easy to use and readily available guide to the way in which akt will handle complaints and compliments so that individuals know how to make a complaint and everyone at akt knows what to do if a complaint is received;
- ensure that all complaints are investigated fairly, consistently, and promptly;
- ensure that complaints are resolved in a courteous, professional, and positive way; and
- help akt gather information to help us continually improve the way we work. WHAT THIS POLICY COVERSWe believe it is better to apply a wider definition of what counts as a complaint than a narrower one; that way we have the opportunity to hear more about how well we are or are not performing. Any expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, about any aspect of akt and received from a volunteer, service user or other member of the public will therefore be treated as a complaint unless it relates to:
- a general enquiry about the work of akt or a request for information about us;
- a contractual or legal dispute;
- a formal request for disclosure of information for example under data protection legislation;
- the immediate resolution of a minor query or day to day dissatisfaction which may be dealt with on a day-to-day basis at a local level;
- a personal grievance from an employee when akt’s Grievance Policy and Procedure should be used;
- a formal incident, for example incidents regarding safeguarding, health and safety, fraud, theft, major financial, system or process irregularities, property damage or burglary when the relevant incident reporting process should be used;
- our fundraising practices when our Fundraising Complaints Policy should be used, and the complaint addressed to email@example.com
- an activity where we are delivering services on behalf of another organisation, such as a partner organisation and where there may be other arrangements in place that are better suited to handling the matter in which case, we will let you know the relevant detail;
- serious concerns about fraud, misconduct, or wrongdoing when akt’s Whistleblowing Policy should be used.
3.2 If there is concern about possible abuse of a vulnerable person or someone is at risk of immediate harm, then call 999. If the risk is not immediate, then email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow akt’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedure.
3.3 In the implementation of this policy, akt may process personal data and/or special category personal data collected in accordance with its GDPR and data protection policy. Data collected from the point at which this policy is invoked will only inform akt for the benefit of implementing this policy. All data is held securely and accessed by, and disclosed to, individuals only for the purposes of this policy. Inappropriate access or disclosure of personal data constitutes a data breach and should be reported in accordance with akt’s GDPR and data protection policy immediately. It may also constitute a disciplinary offence, which will be dealt with under akt’s disciplinary procedure.
4.0 HOW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT
4.1 We believe that it is best to deal with complaints straightaway rather than let them grow into a big issue. If you have a complaint, please raise it as soon as you can with the person you are dealing with so that they may try to resolve it for you there and then. If there are lessons to be learned, then that person will make sure they are reported to their line manager to action as appropriate.
4.2 If the matter cannot be dealt with this way (perhaps because of a conflict of interest or confidentiality issues) or the matter needs more serious attention, then please contact akt by emailing email@example.com
4.3 We will be better able to handle your complaint if you give us as much information as you can – your name and contact details so that we may respond to you together with other relevant details, for example, details of the cause of your complaint, any information about steps that you have already taken to try to clear up the matter, the names of anyone involved and any relevant dates.
4.4 It is easier for all to look into a complaint if it is made straightaway when recollections are fresh, and information is easier to recall. For this reason, if a complaint has not been raised within 6 months, we will consider that the issue has either been satisfactorily resolved or that there is no wish to take it further. If, however, you have been trying to raise your complaint without proper response, or if there are other good reasons, we understand that there may be times when this may be extended. If your complaint relates to a potential safeguarding issue, we understand that it may take longer for such a complaint to be raised and will not impose any time limits.
4.5 If you are expressing a complaint on behalf of somebody else, we will need their written agreement before we are able to respond to you on their behalf.
However you raise a complaint, we will do our best to help.
ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR COMPLAINT
We will formally acknowledge your complaint within 10 working days of receiving it. If you have not received an acknowledgement, please contact us again to check that your original complaint has been received.
Our acknowledgement will tell you which team or individual is responsible for considering and replying to the complaint.
We will reply to you by email. If you have provided a telephone number, we may use that to call you to discuss.
If the complaint is already being handled under another akt procedure (for example, the Disciplinary or Grievance Procedures), you will be advised that your complaint has been passed to the individual who is already dealing with it.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM US
Where a complaint is made, you can expect akt to take the complaint seriously and to treat it in an open, honest and fair way. We prefer to hear about issues and so you should feel free to raise a complaint without fear of disadvantage or repercussion.
Each complaint is likely to be unique and will therefore be handled in a way that reflects the nature of the complaint. Looking into a complaint may involve us doing some or all of the following:
- checking whether it is a known or standard issue
- designating somebody to look into the complaint;
- where appropriate contacting or meeting you so that you can talk through your complaint in more detail and/or tell us what you are hoping for as an outcome from your complaint;
- where appropriate gathering information and establishing facts in order to get back to you;
- where appropriate providing written or verbal updates on the progress of the complaint, including reasons why it might take longer than anticipated to resolve;
- letting you know our conclusion(s) about your complaint including what we have found and an explanation of how and why we reached those conclusions.If we find that we got things wrong, then we will acknowledge that, explain why, and show that we understand how our error affected you. If we find there is a fault in our systems or the way we do things, we will tell you what it is and how we plan to change things to stop it happening again. If we got something wrong, we will always apologise.
If you are unhappy with our response, you may email within 5 working days of receiving our response. Your email should set out the reasons why you feel further consideration of your complaint is merited. It should be addressed to the person dealing with your complaint at the time, and it will be escalated within the appropriate directorate. The appropriate director will review this and may allocate another member of staff to consider your complaint. If so, that member of staff will respond to you with the conclusions of their review into your complaint within 21 working days of receipt of this email. If your complaint relates to a director, it this will be handled within a separate directorate.
akt would very much like to resolve complaints itself and would always like to be given the chance to do that. If however, after following this Policy, a complaint remains unresolved then akt will signpost a complainant to other organisations that might help including for example Charities Commission, or specifically in relation to fundraising or data, The Fundraising Regulator and the Information Commissioner’s Office respectively.
WHAT WE EXPECT OF YOU
We believe that complainants have the right to be heard, understood, and respected, and we recognise that the circumstances leading up to your complaint may cause you to be upset, distressed, or angry.
However, we also have a duty of care for the people working for akt. We therefore expect you to be polite and courteous in your dealings with akt and its staff and volunteers. While it may be appropriate for you to be determined or persistent to get your point across, we will not tolerate aggressive or abusive behaviour, unreasonable demands, or unreasonable persistence.
Our staff and volunteers are authorised to end any telephone call or written communication where they suffer abusive language.
COMPLAINTS RECEIVED INTERNALLY
A complaint that is received by anyone in akt should be forwarded to the HR Manager so that they can log the complaint, send an acknowledgement to the complainant, and address the complaint in line with this Policy. Matters that are of particular sensitivity may, at the discretion of the Chief Executive Officer, be held separately by the Chief Executive Officer’s Office.
WHEN A COMPLAINT WON’T BE ACTIONED
In very rare circumstances akt will not action a complaint or respond to a complainant. This may happen when:
▪ a complaint is submitted anonymously. Whilst the complaint will still be considered the anonymous nature of it will prevent a response being given;
▪ a complaint is about something with which akt has no direct connection. akt may wish to address the point but will have no obligation to;
confidentiality, then we will explain this in our response.
- someone unreasonably continues to pursue a complaint which akt has already considered and responded in line with this Policy;
- anyone is abusive, prejudiced, or offensive in their manner or harasses a volunteer, employee, trustee or anyone connected with akt;
- a complaint is used as a mechanism to create disharmony to akt or an individual;
- a complaint is incoherent or illegible or forms part of a round robin or group mailing.
9.2 Where a complainant persists in pursuing a complaint despite their complaint having been considered and addressed in line with this Policy, akt will not continue to direct charitable resources to resolve the complaint. If the complainant continues to raise a complaint, akt may choose to terminate service delivery or volunteering opportunity.
10.0 LEARNING LESSONS
10.1 akt’s Senior Management Team will regularly consider reports on complaints and compliments including more serious issues raised, trends in terms of numbers of complaints or in particular areas and on the actions taken; the aim being to improve akt’s offering to all involved with akt and to improve standards and performance. High level reports may be reported to akt’s Board of Trustee’s People and Culture Committee.
11.0 COMPLIMENTS, COMMENTS AND POSITIVE FEEDBACK
akt also welcome compliments, comments and positive feedback about akt, its activities and its volunteers and staff. These are a great way to help akt recognise individuals and compliments and/or positive feedback can be submitted by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Compliments, comments and/or positive feedback will be shared internally with those mentioned and may be shared with their line manager(s) as appropriate.