The Challenge in Westminster

External Complaints Policy

External Complaints Policy

Contents

  1. Summary
  2. What is a complaint
  3. How to make a complaint
  4. Our approach to complaints
  5. How we deal with complaints
  6. Sensitive ‘in-confidence’ complaints
  7. Timeline
  8. Appeals
  9. Review

1. Summary

At The Challenge, we design and deliver programmes that bring different people together to develop their confidence and skills in understanding and connecting with others.

If we have not been able to meet the high standards we have set ourselves, we want to work with you and take your feedback on board to improve our services and/or programmes.

We will try to resolve your complaint when we receive it. Most feedback we receive does not need to be resolved as a formal complaint.

Please note: If we have a call or are made aware of the welfare of a young person being put at risk, we will always follow our Safeguarding policy.

2. What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with any aspect of our operation (programme, staff, communications, systems and processes), whether deemed justified or not by our organisation.  

We aim to solve your complaint as soon as we are aware of your dissatisfaction, i.e. ‘on the ground’, or acknowledge as needed. Each department is responsible for managing and keeping a log of direct feedback. The head of customer services can support in assessing how they should log and manage this.

Complaints will be considered when raised within six months of the incident or issue complained about. Where the complainant did not find out about the issue or incident until some time after, the deadline will be based on when they became aware of the issue or when it was reasonable to expect them to be aware of the issue. If the reason for the delay is valid, this can be extended to 12 months at our discretion.

When the resolution or agreement to resolve the complaint takes more than two working days, your expression of dissatisfaction will be immediately escalated to our central complaints team. For example:

  • it cannot be resolved by the member of staff who was first notified of the concern;
  • the attempts to resolve the complaint are not to the complainant’s satisfaction;
  • it is considered a serious complaint and needs to be escalated directly through our complaints policy.

Grievances made by members of The Challenge core staff will not be considered as complaints. They should be raised directly to our HR department (hr@the-challenge.org) for a swift and fair investigation in line with the grievance or any other relevant policy.

Grievances made by members of Local Delivery Partners (LDP) staff need to be directed to LDPs directly.

Legal actions or letters informing us of a quick legal action will not follow our complaint process. They will be directed to our legal department (legal.team@the-challenge.org) for a swift and complaint resolution.

If during a complaint legal action or if any of the processes are linked to data protection, we will liaise with the legal department who will confirm whether it should continue to be handled as a complaint or should be taken over by their team.

Please liaise directly with our legal department for any questions relating to legal actions.

3. How to make a complaint

1) You can send your complaint in writing (via complaints@the-challenge.org, or by letter).

2) When you complain directly to a member of staff via the phone or face to face, they can either resolve your complaint or escalate it to the central team via complaints@the-challenge.org.

Our complaints team will assess and follow the process in the appropriate manner.

4. Our approach to your complaint

We classify complaints under four levels: these four levels reflect who is aware of the complaint:

  • Major incident: Level 1 complaints will be shared with the relevant head of the department, director and the CEO;
  • Major incident: Level 2 complaints will be shared with the relevant head of the department, director and, in some cases, the CEO;
  • Serious incident: Level 3 and Minor incident: Level 4 complaints will be shared with the relevant head of the department.

Regardless of the level of complaint, it is managed the same way. When dealing with your complaint, we will:

  • treat each complaint seriously;
  • review the complaint from your point of view;
  • investigate each complaint thoroughly and using appropriate evidence, including looking at each issue raised to us and addressing each issue in turn in our response;
  • be humble and open to the complaint we have received; we will not approach the complaint in a defensive way or assume that we know the problem and the answer;
  • be honest and fair in our assessment of the complaint;
  • apologise where we have made a mistake or got something wrong;
  • make any changes where appropriate to correct the complaint or to ensure the problem does not reoccur;
  • make recommendations for improvements to feed into our reviews;
  • share only the appropriate level of detail regarding each complaint, and only with relevant members of staff, so that it is handled effectively and in accordance with our data protection policy.

5. How we deal with complaints

On receipt of the complaint, our complaints team responsible will:

1) log the complaint (access is restricted due to sensitive information);

2) ensure the complaint is acknowledged (this is usually sent by email or confirmed over the phone);

3) assess the level of the complaint and:

a) inform the relevant people. In some cases, the CEO may be informed immediately or after discussion with a director.

If some or all of the complaint raises safeguarding issues, our Safeguarding policy takes precedence and the complaint will be managed through this policy as appropriate.

b) inform the relevant head of the department of the complaint;

c) If the complaint may need legal or other expertise, we will inform our legal, HR or other teams as relevant;

d) escalate the complaint, or elements of the complaint, to be dealt with as urgent where necessary.

4) liaise with the relevant complaints officer who will:

a) assign an appropriate member of staff to respond to the complaint, or manage the complaint response themselves depending on the seriousness of the complaint;

b) update the relevant internal documents as required;

c) support the member of staff assigned to respond to the complaint with the complaint investigation, and ensure the approach reflects our overall approach to complaints handling;

d) monitor the complaint investigation to ensure the draft and final responses are delivered within the complaint deadlines outlined in this policy and where applicable and using the correct templates in correspondence.

Once a complaint investigation is complete, the complaints officer, or member of staff assigned to deal with the complaint, will:

– share a draft written response with our complaints team and head of the department (and directors as needed) for feedback and sign off;

– finalise the written response and share with the complainant within the agreed timeline.

6. Sensitive ‘in-confidence’ complaints

The nature of some complaints may be very sensitive. It is likely that the CEO, directors or heads of departments will handle these complaints in confidence. In this case, the CEO or director should alert our complaints team to the existence of the complaint so it can be logged and included in complaint statistics. No details of the complaint will be shared in the log. Anyone receiving a complaint directly that they feel should be treated as ‘sensitive in confidence’ should consult their head of the department in the first instance for guidance.

7. Timeline for formal complaints

After receiving the complaint we will;

One working day Acknowledge the receipt of the complaint.
3 working days Follow up with a call to clarify the points made in the complaint and agree on what needs to be addressed and investigated.
6 working days Carry out an investigation on the relevant points and complete a first draft response.
8 working days Finalise the final draft of the complaint response and get approval from the complaints officer and relevant people.
10 working days We will send our response to the complainant.

8. Appeals

If the complainant feels that the concerns are not resolved by our investigation, they will have 28 days from the response being issued to request that the complaint goes through our appeals process. Anything outside of those 28 days will not be looked into and we will reject the appeal.

To appeal, the request needs to be sent to complaints@the-challenge.org to advise reasons why the complaint was not investigated to the complainant’s satisfaction. This will then, in turn, be managed by the relevant head of department who will investigate the reason for appeal and will respond with their findings. We will work on reviewing the appeal as quickly as possible and we aim to respond with our conclusion within 10 working days from the receipt of the appeal.

9. Review

The Challenge complaints Policy will be reviewed annually. The latest version will always be made available on our website.

You have helped us improve

Your feedback about our services and programmes have helped us put things right. Please see below for how you as a customer have helped us improve:

Clarity of status of the application to our NCS programme

Parents and guardians – You told us our emails lacked clarity to understand if your young person’s place was confirmed.

We have since updated our email content.

Incentivised NCS vouchers

Young people – You told us that sending vouchers through the post caused delays and sometimes disappointment if these did not reach your young person.

We now send your vouchers by email.

Invoice payment

Suppliers – You told us that our invoicing process was not efficient and led to delays in payment.

We have now improved how we process invoices with a new ticketing system to speed up this process.