This policy sets out the procedures The Youth Enquiry Service Wycombe (Y.E.S) will follow when a complaint is received. If anyone is unhappy with any part of our service, or if they have a complaint to make, we would like to know about it as soon as possible in order to resolve the situation quickly. All complaints will be treated seriously and confidentially.
Aims of the Complaints Procedure
- To enable a complaint to be investigated in a fair manner
- To enable complaints to be resolved as speedily as possible
- To allow consequences of mistakes to be put right without unnecessary conflict
- To improve the quality of the service
Access to this Complaints Procedure Document
This Complaints Procedure can be accessed as follows:
- A copy is on display in the foyer area of the agency
- A hard copy can be requested by writing directly to The Chair, Y.E.S, 52 Frogmoor, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP13 5DG.
- A copy is available on our website
Who can complain?
- Anyone who feels that they have not been treated fairly can use this procedure to state their case to the management of the service.
- Anyone who is currently accessing our services
- Anyone who has used our services within the past three years
Time limits for complaints
Complaints can be accepted up to three years from the time of the problem arising. If the complaint refers to specific client work the maximum is three years from the date the ended counselling with Y.E.S. However, it is much easier to sort out difficulties if the complaint is bought to our attention as quickly as possible.
How to make a complaint
If you are receiving support from our counselling service, please try to talk over your concerns with your counsellor if you can. A formal complaint should be written in the first instance to The Chair of the board of Trustees. This should be addressed “Confidential” and sent to The Chair, Y.E.S, 52 Frogmore, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP13 5DG. If you have any difficulty making a complaint you may want to contact an advocacy service, we can provide details of local organizations.
Scope of Complaints
Complaints made under this Procedure may cover paid staff, volunteers, board members and other volunteers or contractors acting for or on behalf of Y.E.S.
Y.E.S is committed to providing inclusive services which embrace diversity and promote equality within our agency. Our services are aged over 13 and under 25 years. They have equal access to our services without being discriminated against in any way.
If a complaint relates to the conduct of an individual who is engaged with our services on a 1:1 basis, then at all times the safety of our service users and volunteers will be our primary consideration. Suspension of counselling, access to our other services and/or disciplinary proceedings make take place at any stage of the complaints process, if appropriate.
Stage 1 - Informal complaint
Opportunity will be given at the time of the initial complaint to settle the concern informally. This may be face to face, telephone or written explanation of the reasons for a decision taken. The chair or agency co-ordinator will normally handle the complaint at this stage, if they are the subject of the complaint, then the Board of Trustees or other designated member of the Executive Committee will undertake to respond to the complaint and manage the complaints procedure.
If the complainant remains dissatisfied with the outcome of discussions at this stage, or informal methods to settle the concern are declined then a formal written complaint can be made.
Stage 2 - Formal Complaint
A formal complaint will be acknowledged in writing within 7 working days. A copy of the complaints procedure will be enclosed. If an employee, volunteer or contractor of Y.E.S is the subject of the complaint, they will be sent a copy of the complaint along with the complaints procedure.
Investigation of the Complaint
Within 4 weeks of the complaint being received by the Chair, a person will be appointed by the Board of trustees to investigate the formal complaint. The person will be independent of the Y.E.S executive board and the complainant. All parties involved will be given the opportunity to declare a conflict of interest with them All investigations will be completed and responded to within a matter of 6 months. The Chair or person managing the complaint may halt the procedure at any stage if it emerged that legal action is under way, pending or intended, until such a time that the legal process is complete.
The investigator will make a thorough and confidential investigation into the complaint, contacting both the complainant and the subject of the complaint. The investigator will have access to relevant documents and policy papers within Y.E.S. They may ask for evidence from either party. If this evidence is sought in person, they will meet with each party separately. All parties will have the right to be accompanied and/or be represented by a supportive person of their choice. The complainant and the party or parties complained against and/or their representative will not be asked to attend any meetings together.
Once the investigation is completed, it will be heard by a group which consists of the investigator, the Chair or Vice Chair, at least two members of the executive committee and the agency co-ordinator if appropriate. In most cases the decision of the group will be final. The investigator will make a written response to the complainant within 28 days of the decision being made. A copy will be sent to Y.E.S and the person complained against. If it proves not possible to respond within 28 days, the complainant will be informed of any reasons for the delay.
The investigator will make recommendations regarding the action required to bring about the resolution of the complaint and any sanctions which they may consider appropriate to apply to either party. In such circumstances, the investigator will also provide instructions for the monitoring of the fulfillment of said actions or sanctions.
Unless Y.E.S makes a formal appeal within 14 days, the agency will abide by the recommendations and decisions of the investigator.
Stage 3 - Grounds for Appeal
A complainant may appeal against the findings of the group on the following grounds:
- To make sure the complaints procedure has been followed
- That there was new evidence which the group did not have access to in the investigation
An appeal cannot be accepted only on the grounds that the complainant disagrees with the groups report.
Making an appeal
A complainant may appeal within 14 days of the receipt of the investigators report.
The reasons for the appeal must be set out clearly in writing.
The appeal will be acknowledged in writing by the Chair and considered by the Board of Trustees.
The complainant will be informed in writing within 21 days whether the appeal has been accepted or not.
The appeal panel
If an appeal is accepted, the Chair will arrange to set up an appeals panel. The panel will be made up of three people, it will consist of the Chair or Vice Chair or other designated member of the Board, and two persons from outside of Y.E.S with relevant experience. The panel will meet within 28 days of the notification of the acceptance of the appeal to the complainant. No one handling the appeal will have taken any part in the previous handling of the complaint.
The Appeal Hearing
14 days written notice of the date of the appeal will be copied and the composition of the panel will be given to all parties. All documents relating to the appeal will be copied to all parties and the panel members 14 days before the hearing. The complainant and the complained against will be circulated 7 days before the hearing. The complainant and complained against may be required to attend the hearing and may be accompanied, and/or represented, by a supportive person of their choice. The complainant and the complained against will have the opportunity to make a short statement at the hearing. The investigator and the Chair (or which ever member of the board managed the original complaint) will be available to give information to the panel. The appeal panel will have the authority to adjourn the hearing. The panel will come to a decision regarding the appeal in private session. The decision will be given in writing within seven days. If the appeal is upheld the panel will make recommendations regarding the action required to bring about the resolution of the complaint. Y.E.S will abide by the decision and recommendations of the panel.
Monitoring of Complaints
A record will be kept of all complaints received. Anonymous complaints will also be recorded, including the reasons for any decision to pursue or not pursue the complaint. Complaints will be monitored regularly by the chair and bought to the attention of the Board of Trustees.