Complaints policy

We view complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future, as well as a chance to improve things for the person that has made the complaint and put things right where we have got things wrong.

We will make reasonable adjustments to our Complaints Procedure to ensure that everyone is able to make a complaint and that our complaints process is accessible and fair.

Our policy is:

  • To provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy to use for anyone wishing to make a complaint
  • To publicise the existence of our complaints procedure so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint
  • To make sure all Trustees know what to do if a complaint is received
  • To make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way
  • To make sure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired
  • To gather information which helps us to improve what we do

Definition of a Complaint

A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, about any aspect of BiCon Continuity Ltd.

Where Complaints Come From

Complaints may come from members and beneficiaries (i.e. bisexual people in the UK). Complaints from any other person or organisation who can show they have a legitimate interest in BiCon Continuity Ltd will also be considered under this policy. We have limited resources and our duty is to our beneficiaries and it is not an appropriate use of our time to deal with complaints raised by people or organisations that cannot demonstrate a legitimate interest.

A complaint can be received verbally or in writing (e.g. email).

Confidentiality

All complaint information will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know and following any relevant data protection requirements.

Where a complaint contains information that suggests a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of harm, we will follow our Safeguarding Vulnerable Beneficiaries Policy, which requires that that matter is reported internally and externally where necessary to protect the child or vulnerable adult from harm.

Responsibility

Overall responsibility for this policy and its implementation lies with the Trustees.

Review

This policy is reviewed every two years and updated as required.

Adopted on: 27th March 2016

Last reviewed: 27th March 2018


BiCon Continuity Complaints Procedure

Publicised Contact Details for Complaints:

Written complaints may be sent to info@biconcontinuity.org.uk or by post to 15 Wellington Square, Leicester, LE1 6HH. We prefer to receive complaints by email as post may be delayed.

Verbal complaints may be made in person to any of our trustees. If you prefer to complain by Textphone/NGTR we will make arrangements for this. If you would like to submit your complaint in BSL or in another language other than English, please contact us to discuss arrangements for us to receive your complaint.

You may make a complaint with the help of a friend /family member /advocate. We are happy to correspond with another person at your request.

Receiving Complaints

Complaints may arrive through channels publicised for that purpose or through any other contact details or opportunities the complainant may have.

Verbal complaints need to be recorded.

The person who receives a verbal complaint should:

  • Write down the facts of the complaint
  • Take the complainant's name, address, telephone number, email address and note any preferred contact details
  • Note down the relationship of the complainant to BiCon Continuity Ltd (for example: beneficiary, member)
  • Tell the complainant that we have a complaints procedure
  • Tell the complainant what will happen next and how long it will take. Do not provide unrealistic timescales
  • Give the complainant the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to our complaints procedure
  • Where appropriate, ask the complainant to send a written account by post or by email so that the complaint is recorded in the complainant's own words. [Bear in mind that complaints do not have to be reduced to writing and that asking for a written account unnecessarily may be a barrier to making a complaint, particularly for people with dyslexia and other literacy difficulties. It may be better for the person investigating the complaint to make this, or a similar request later.]

For further guidelines about handling verbal complaints, see Appendix 1

Resolving Complaints

Stage One

In many cases, a complaint is best resolved by the person responsible for the issue being complained about. If the complaint has been received by that person, they may be able to resolve it swiftly and should do so if possible and appropriate. We endeavour to deal with complaints informally where possible.

A record should be kept of all complaints resolved successfully at Stage One.

Stage Two

If the complaint has not been resolved at Stage One, the trustee with responsibility for complaints handling or their deputy will nominate someone to handle the complaint. Where the complaint involves a number of trustees it will almost certainly be passed to someone not implicated in the complaint for investigation.

The complaints handler will ensure a record has been made of the complaint.

If the complaint relates to a specific person, they must be informed and given a fair opportunity to respond.

Complaints should be acknowledged by the person handling the complaint within two weeks. The acknowledgement should say who is dealing with the complaint and when the person complaining can expect a reply. It should be clear that it may well take some time to investigate the complaint thoroughly and that all of the Trustees are volunteers with other demands on their time. A copy of this complaints procedure should be attached.

Complainants should be given an opportunity to:

  1. Confirm how they wish to be contacted
  2. Request reasonable adjustments to this complaints procedure
  3. Clarify their complaint, with the assistance of the person investigating it, if it is not clear.

Ideally complainants should receive a definitive reply within six weeks. If this is not possible because for example, an investigation has not been fully completed, a progress report should be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given.

Whether the complaint is justified or not, the reply to the complainant should describe the action taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint.

Stage Three

If the complainant feels that the problem has not been satisfactorily resolved at Stage Two, they can request that the complaint is reviewed at Board level. At this stage, the complaint will be passed to the Trustees as a whole.

The request for Board level review should be acknowledged within a week of receiving it. The acknowledgement should say who will deal with the case and when the complainant can expect a reply.

The Chair may investigate the facts of the case themselves or delegate a suitably senior person to do so. This may involve reviewing the paperwork of the case and speaking with anyone who has dealt with the complaint so far.

If the complaint relates to a specific person, they must be informed and given a further opportunity to respond.

Ideally complainants should receive a definitive reply within six weeks. If this is not possible because for example, an investigation has not been fully completed, a progress report should be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given.

Whether the complaint is upheld or not, the reply to the complainant should describe the action taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint.

The decision taken at this stage is final, unless the Board decides it is appropriate to seek external assistance with resolution. In reaching a decision about external assistance with complaint resolution the Board will have in mind their fiduciary duties and their objects; we are a small charity and it isn't appropriate for a large proportion of our resources to be spent on external assistance to resolve complaints, because this will reduce the funds available for our core purposes.

External Stage

The complainant can complain to the Charity Commission at any stage.

Information about the kind of complaints the Commission can involve itself in can be found on their website at: www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc47.aspx

Variation of the Complaints Procedure

The Board may vary the procedure for good reason. This may be necessary to avoid a conflict of interest, for example, a complaint about the Chair should not also have the Chair as the person leading a Stage Two review.

If a complaint involves all of the Trustees it may be more appropriate to have an outside organisation investigate it.

We will not consider complaints which:

  • Are unrelated to our work
  • Are obviously jokes or pranks
  • Are obviously abusive, prejudiced or offensive in their manner
  • Are harassing of Trustees
  • Are incoherent or illegible (and attempts to work with the complainant to make the complaint coherent or legible fail)
  • Are part of a bulk complaint, for example if we have been sent the same complaint as sent to a number of other organisations
  • Are made anonymously unless they relate to a serious issue on which there is reasonable initial evidence to allow us to investigate the complaint.

Monitoring and Learning from Complaints

Complaints are reviewed annually to identify any trends which may indicate a need to take further action.


Appendix 1 – Practical Guidance for Handling Verbal Complaints

Remain calm and respectful throughout the conversation

Listen – allow the person to talk about the complaint in their own words. Sometimes a person just wants to "let off steam"

Don't debate the facts in the first instance, especially if the person is angry

Show an interest in what is being said

Obtain details about the complaint before any personal details

Ask for clarification wherever necessary

Show that you have understood the complaint by reflecting back what you have noted down

Acknowledge the person's feelings (even if you feel that they are being unreasonable) – you can do this without making a comment on the complaint itself or making any admission of fault on behalf of the organisation, e.g. "I understand that this situation is frustrating for you"

If you feel that an apology is deserved for something that was the responsibility of your organisation, then apologise

Ask the person what they would like done to resolve the issue

Be clear about what you can do, how long it will take and what it will involve.

Don't promise things you can't deliver

Give clear and valid reasons why requests cannot be met

Make sure that the person understands what they have been told

Wherever appropriate, inform the person about the available avenues of review or appeal.