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Complaints Policy

CSASS welcome complaints as feedback, to help us put things right and improve our work and service. 

We recognise that we support many individuals at a vulnerable point in their lives.  We intend to listen well to complainants, and be mindful of their situation.

CSASS will:

  • Ensure that making a complaint is as easy as possible
  • Make our policy clearly, publicly accessible on the website, and in spaces where we regularly work
  • Highlight our policy with all regular clients and volunteers as they join CSASS, and when agreements are reviewed
  • Treat a complaint as a clear expression of dissatisfaction which calls for a response
  • Deal with a complaint promptly and politely. In some circumstances, CSASS may need to inform partners or funders about complaints, but we will always deal with complaints as confidentially as possible
  • Respond in the right way – for example with an explanation or an apology where a mistake has been made
  • Learn from complaints, ensuring they are used to improve our work and service

Many concerns will be raised informally and dealt with quickly. CSASS aims to:

  • Resolve informal concerns quickly
  • Keep matters low-key
  • If concerns cannot be resolved informally, then the formal complaints procedure can be used. The formal complaints procedure is intended to ensure complaints are handled fairly, consistently and wherever possible resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction.

Definition

A complaint is ‘any expression of dissatisfaction (with CSASS, with a member of staff, volunteer, or with a CSASS Trustee) that relates to CSASS and that requires a formal response’.

What complaints are accepted?

We accept complaints about how you have been affected by CSASS or, if you are acting as an advocate for someone who has been affected. We do not generally accept complaints that:

  • are anonymous
  • are without serious purpose
  • are malicious, abusive or discriminatory or designed to cause disruption
  • we believe to be vexatious – e.g. prolific, repetitious or where reasonable attempts to resolve concerns have been made

We are sensitive to the fact that if clients raise similar issues repeatedly, despite receiving a full response, there may be underlying reasons for this persistence.  In deciding whether a complaint is vexatious, CSASS will take into account all circumstances. Our main consideration will be the issues raised in the complaint rather than the behaviour of the complainant.

CSASS responsibility will be to:

  • Acknowledge the formal complaint in writing;
  • Respond within a stated period of time;
  • Deal reasonably and sensitively with the complaint; and
  • Take action where appropriate.

A complainant’s responsibility is to:

  • Bring their complaint, in writing, to CSASS’ attention normally within 8 weeks of the issue arising;
  • Raise concerns promptly and directly with the Centre Manager (or the Secretary to the Board, a trustee) who will be responsible for further action;
  • Explain the problem as clearly and as fully as possible, including any action taken to date;
  • Allow CSASS a reasonable time to deal with the matter; and
  • Recognise that some circumstances may be beyond CSASS’ control.

Monitoring and Reporting

Trustees will produce an annual report of complaints and their resolution.

Formal Complaints Procedure

Stage 1) Write us a letter of complaint. In your letter you should set out the details of your complaint, the consequences for you as a result, and what you would like to happen. Please send it FAO of the Centre Manager. If the complaint is in relation to the Centre Manager, send it FAO the CSASS Secretary. 

There are different ways of sending your complaint to us:

  • Post it to us. Please call our office on 01244 307 499 to obtain our postal address – we are discrete about our location.
  • Email it to us. Address your email to info@csass.org.uk. Add your letter to the email as an attachment, marked ‘Confidential: for the attention of the [Centre Manager / CSASS Secretary]’.
  • Meet with us. If you would like, you can ask to meet with us to explain your complaint and share your concern directly. You are welcome to bring someone along to support you. This may mean it takes longer for us to respond to your complaint.

    If you post or email your complaint to us, you can expect acknowledgment within one week of receipt. You should get a response and an explanation within three weeks of receipt.

Stage 2) If you are not satisfied with the initial response to the complaint, then you can contact the CSASS’ Chair, and ask for your complaint and the response to be reviewed. You can expect the Chair to acknowledge your request within one week of receipt and normally receive a response within 28 days.

There are different ways of contacting the CSASS Chair:

  • Post it to us marked FAO the CSASS Chair. Please call our office on 01244 307 499 to obtain our postal address – we are discrete about our location.
  • Email CSASS Chair. Address your email to info@csass.org.uk. Add your letter to the email as an attachment, marked ‘Confidential: for the attention of the CSASS Chair’

Stage 3) If you are not satisfied with the subsequent reply from CSASS Chair, you may be able to complain to the Charity Commission. Your complaint will need to relate to CSASS not doing what it claims to do, losing lots of money, harming people, being used for personal profit or gain, or being involved in illegal activity. 

Further information on making complaints to the Charity Commission, or other charity regulators, can be found here.