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Complaints procedure


What is a Complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, either written or spoken. A complaint can be made by an individual or a group. You may wish to complain if you are not satisfied with the service you have received from Bliss or the way you have been treated by Bliss representatives, such as volunteers or staff.

Principles of Bliss’ Complaints Procedure

  • Bliss recognises that complaints are an important part of user feedback
  • All complaints will be investigated fully and fairly
  • Complaints will be dealt with in confidence
  • If the person making the complaint is not happy with the result of the response to their complaint, they will have the right to appeal.

Bliss is committed to ensuring that its services are of the highest quality. This procedure enables Bliss to respond to complaints in a fair and proper way and to know when and why people are not satisfied with its services, so they can be improved.

Who can make a Complaint?

This procedure is for members of the public who have received any form of service from Bliss.

It does not cover complaints made by Bliss staff, volunteers and trustees who need to follow agreed grievance, disciplinary or other internal procedures details of which are available in the Bliss Staff or Volunteer Handbooks.

Section A - Complaints about Bliss

There are four stages that you can go through to try and resolve any problems. If you need a sign or community language interpreter or have literacy problems, please let us know and every reasonable effort will be made to provide appropriate assistance.

The four stages are:

Stage one (Informal)

Speak to the individual(s) concerned or their line manager and try to resolve the complaint informally. The individual concerned is required to tell you their name and who their line manager is if you ask them. However, you can also refer to the list below to find out an appropriate manager for you to contact.

Area of responsibility Contact Email

Head of Services

Head of Fundraising & Communications

Head of Finance & Operation

Zoe Chivers

David Boorman

Paul Butler

zoec@bliss.org.uk

davidb@bliss.org.uk

paulb@bliss.org.uk

If your complaint does not fit any of these categories listed above, please contact our CEO, Caroline Lee-Davey – carolined@bliss.org.uk.

If you are not satisfied with the response you have received at stage one (informal) you should then use stage two of this procedure.

Stage two (formal)

  1. Outline the details of your complaint by letter or email and send it to the Chief Executive, Bliss, 2nd Floor, Chapter House, 18-20 Crucifix Lane, London SE1 3JW or email carolined@bliss.org.uk.

    If your complaint is about the Chief Executive then you should address it to the Chair of Trustees (marked private & confidential) and send to Bliss at the address above. The Trustees are ultimately responsible for the organisation.

    Your complaint will be acknowledged in the same format it has been received (ie, by letter or email) within seven working days from the date it is received. This acknowledgement will contain the following information:

    • Name, address and telephone number of the person who will investigate the complaint
    • The date the investigation will start
    • What support you can receive during the process of the complaint, e.g. making information accessible, access to interpreters.
  2. You will receive a full response in writing within 21 working days from the start of the investigation from the person appointed to investigate the complaint. The response will include the following information:

    • Details of the investigation
    • A decision about whether the complaint was upheld or not
    • The reason for the decision
    • The redress, if appropriate, which will be offered to you e.g. an apology, additional help or directing to other sources of advice or support
    • Any other action that may be taken in light of the complaint
    • If it is not possible to provide a full answer to your complaint within 21 working days, the letter/email will outline reasons why and give a date by which a full answer is expected.

Stage three (Appeal)

  1. If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint then outline the reasons for your dissatisfaction by letter or email within seven working days of receiving it to the Chief Executive (or the Chair of the Trustees if it is about the Chief Executive).
  2. An Appeal Panel normally of three members, including a trustee where appropriate, will be convened to consider your appeal. The Chief Executive will be responsible for ensuring the panel is appropriately representative. Panel membership will be restricted to people who have had no previous involvement in the complaint.
  3. Members of the Appeal Panel will:
    • Read through the necessary papers
    • Speak to relevant individuals involved with the complaint
    • Make a final decision.
  4. The chair of the Appeal Panel will write to you within 28 working days of receiving your appeal, to confirm:
    • The final decision about the complaint
    • The reason for the decision
    • The redress, if appropriate, which will be offered to you e.g. an apology, additional help or directing to other sources of advice or support
    • Any action that may be taken in light of the complaint.

Review of the process

  1. If, once you have been through stages 1 to 3 of the complaints procedure, you are not satisfied that Bliss has followed the process properly and dealt with your complaint fairly, then you can outline the reasons for your dissatisfaction by letter or email within 21 working days of receiving the Appeal Panel report. This should be sent to the Chief Executive (or the Chair of the Trustees if it is about the Chief Executive) to request a review of the complaint handling process, not a further investigation of the complaint.
  2. The Chief Executive or the Chair will make arrangements for a review of the complaint handling process, and will inform you of how the review will be carried out.
  3. The decision of the process review will be final. The Chief Executive or the Chair will communicate in writing within 28 working days of receiving your appeal:
    • Whether or not the procedure has been followed properly and fairly
    • The reason for the decision
    • The redress, if appropriate, which will be offered to you
    • What action may be taken in light of the review.

Time Limits

In circumstances where time limits cannot be met due to unforeseen circumstances, you will be notified in writing. The reasons for the delay with adjusted timescales will be supplied by the person responsible for handling the complaint.

Taking a complaint further

If, after following this procedure, you wish to take your complaint further, there are several regulators you can refer to.

The Charity Commission

This is the regulator for charities in England in Wales. You should contact them if you are unhappy with how Bliss has dealt with your complaint:

http://forms.charitycommission.gov.uk/contact-us/general-enquiries/report-a-concern-about-a-charity/raising-concerns-about-a-charity/

If your complaint concerns Bliss Scotland, you should contact the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR):

http://www.oscr.org.uk/charities/raise-a-concern-about-a-charity

The Fundraising Regulator

Bliss is registered with the Fundraising Regulator, and is committed to adhering to best practice in all fundraising activities.

You should contact the Fundraising Regulator to complain about:

  • The way you’ve been asked for donations
  • How fundraisers have behaved

https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/make-a-complaint/complain-about-a-fundraising-approach/

Section B - Complaints about a Bliss Family Group (or a Family Group volunteer)

Bliss family groups deliver direct services to their local community. These are run by volunteers but are supported by Bliss staff.

All Bliss support groups operate under a Code of Conduct. They are also liable to respond to any complaints made by a member of the public about the delivery of any of their services. These should be taken up in the first instance directly with the support group following step 1, the informal process.

If the resolution of the complaint is not satisfactory then it should be taken up formally (using the steps outlined above) with the Head of Services.

Accountability

The Chief Executive of Bliss is responsible for the efficient operation of this complaints procedure. Responsibility for carrying out investigations of complaints may be delegated to appropriate managers in Bliss, under the authority of the Chief Executive.

Review

This procedure came into operation on 1st March 2006 and is reviewed every two years. You can find the date of the last review at the top of each page.

Recording Complaints

Each Head of Department within Bliss will be responsible for ensuring a record of all complaints relevant to their team is maintained in a format agreed by the Chief Executive. These will be reviewed by the Senior Management Team on a quarterly basis. The Chief Executive will be responsible for collating information about complaints, and providing an annual summary of complaints to the Risk and Evaluation Committee (a sub-committee of the Trustee Board), which covers main reasons for complaints, outcomes, and actions taken as a result.

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