Chester Heart Support Group views complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future, as well as a chance to put things right for the person (or organisation) that has made the complaint
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 everyone at Chester Heart Support Group knows 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 Chester Heart Support Group.
Where Complaints Come From
Complaints may come from any person or organisation who has a legitimate interest in Chester Heart Support Group. A complaint can be received verbally, by phone, by email or in writing.
All complaint information will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know and following any relevant data protection requirements.
Overall responsibility for this policy and its implementation lies with the trustees.
This policy is reviewed regularly and updated as required.
Adopted on:16th September 2013
Last reviewed:16th September 2013 Code of Good Governance for Smaller Organisations: Useful Resources
Publicised Contact Details for Complaints:
Written complaints may be sent to Chester Heart Support Group at St. Columba's Church Hall, Plas Newton, Chester, CH2 1SA or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Verbal complaints may be made in person to any of Chester Heart Support Group’s volunteers or trustees at any of our events or activities.
Complaints may arrive through channels publicised for that purpose or through any other contact details or opportunities the complainant may have. Complaints received by telephone or in person need to be recorded.
The person who receives a phone or in person complaint should:
Write down the facts of the complaint
Take the complainant's name, address and telephone number
Note down the relationship of the complainant to Chester Heart Support Group (for example: client, member)
Tell the complainant that we have a complaints procedure
Tell the complainant what will happen next and how long it will take
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.
For further guidelines about handling verbal complaints, see Appendix 1 below.
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.
Whether or not the complaint has been resolved, the complaint information should be passed to the chairman within 7 working days.
On receiving the complaint, the chairman records it in the complaints log. If it has not already been resolved, they delegate an appropriate person to investigate it and to take appropriate action.
If the complaint relates to a specific person, they should be informed and given a fair opportunity to respond.
Complaints should be acknowledged by the person handling the complaint within 7 working days. The acknowledgement should say who is dealing with the complaint and when the person complaining can expect a reply. A copy of this complaints procedure should be attached.
Ideally complainants should receive a definitive reply within 28 working days. 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. Chester Heart Support Group Complaints Procedure
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.
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:
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.
Monitoring and Learning from Complaints
Complaints are reviewed annually to identify any trends which may indicate a need to take further action.Code of Good Governance for Smaller Organisations: Useful Resources
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