VAL Complaints Procedure

VAL exists to serve voluntary groups, volunteers and the public and to be accountable to its trustees, funders, Charity Commission and partners. We aim to provide the best possible advice, support and services to voluntary groups and individuals.

We recognise however, that from time to time, an individual or organisation may feel dissatisfied with the support and service(s) they have received or may wish to raise a general matter of concern.

VAL takes such concerns seriously. We will approach complaints responsibly. We will take on board any learning and amend our policies, practices and approach accordingly. We will also aim to reach a resolution at the earliest stage possible.

Stage 1 – Informal Resolution

In the first instance, complaints or matters of concern should be raised with the appropriate Team Manager. This can be by phone, email, in person or by completing the VAL Complaints Form (available on the VAL website).

The receipt of the complaint will be acknowledged by VAL, normally within 5 days of being received.

The Team Manager will contact and/or meet with the Complainant to understand the grounds of the complaint and seek clarification.

Following the contact/meeting, the Team Manager will seek to resolve the complaint through a process of any further required clarification and investigation.

The outcome of this stage will be communicated in writing (normally by email) to the complainant.

In most cases, we are hopeful that this should resolve the matter.

Key timescales for Informal Stage 1:

  • Acknowledge receipt of informal complaint – within 5 days of complaint being received
  • Contact/Meeting with Complainant – within 10 days of receipt of complaint
  • Written communication (normally by email) of outcome of informal stage 1 – within 5 days of meeting with Complainant.

Notes:

If the Complaint is about the Team Manager, then it should be raised with the appropriate Senior Manager.

List of appropriate Manager contacts can be obtained from Reena Purewal: Reena.p@valonline.org.uk.

Stage 2 – Formal Procedure

In cases where the Informal process – Stage 1 does not lead to a satisfactory outcome for the Complainant, they may refer the matter to the appropriate Senior Manager of VAL, in writing within 10 days of the receipt of the outcome of Stage 1.

The letter of complaint should state the nature and circumstances of the complaint, why they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the informal stage 1 and the redress/resolution they are seeking.

The receipt of the escalated complaint will be acknowledged in writing by the Senior Manager, normally within 5 days of being received.

The Senior Manager will undertake to resolve the complaint through a process of further clarification, investigation and take into account the resolutions sought by the Complainant. In support of this there will be at least one meeting between the Senior Manager and the Complainant to clarify/understand in detail the nature of the complaint and the redress/resolution being sought. Other staff may be involved as necessary. This meeting may result in the Senior Manager reaching a conclusion/resolution. Alternatively, the Senior Manager may need further deliberation to reach a conclusion.

The outcome of the Stage 2 investigation will be communicated normally within 5 working days of the meeting between the Senior Manager and the Complainant (formal Stage 2 meeting). This communication will initially be in person (wherever possible) and will also be followed up in writing and include any necessary further actions.

Key timescales for Formal Stage 2:

  • Formal escalation of complaint to Senior Manager – within 10 days of Stage 1 outcome
  • Acknowledge receipt of formal complaint under Stage 2 – within 5 days of receipt
  • Meeting with Complainant –  within 10 days of receipt of complaint
  • Written communication on outcome of formal stage 2 – normally within 5 days of meeting with Complainant

Appeal – Stage 3

The Complainant will have the right – if dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 2 decision to lodge an appeal to the Chief Executive. This must be done in writing within 10 days of receipt of the outcome of Stage 2 decision from the Senior Manager. The letter of appeal should state the grounds of appeal and the redress/resolution sought.

The Chief Executive may at their discretion decide to convene an Appeal Panel of upto two Trustee Board members from the Performance and Contracts Sub Committee or of the People Sub Committee (depending on the nature of the complaint) to consider the appeal. This will normally be done within 15 days of receipt of the appeal. In some cases there may be a need for a meeting with the Complainant. The decision of the appeal panel will be communicated in writing to the Complainant within 10 days of the Appeal Panel meeting.

The decision of the Appeals Panel is final and no further internal appeal is possible.

Key timescales for Appeal Stage 3:

  • Formal appeal to Chief Executive – within 10 days of Stage 2 outcome letter
  • Acknowledge receipt of Appeal letter  – within 5 days of receipt
  • Appeal Panel Meeting – within 15 days of receipt of appeal
  • Written communication on outcome of informal stage 2 – within 10 days of appeal meeting.

Complaints involving the Chief Executive

  • Complaints against the Chief Executive must be addressed to the Chair of VAL, c/o Reena Purewal Reena.p@valonline.org.uk, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire, 9 Newark st. LE1 5SN, marked Private and Confidential.
  • Stage 1 of the procedure will be undertake by a Trustee Board member of the People Sub Committee
  • Stage 2 of the procedure will be undertaken by the Chair of VAL and a member of the Performance and Contracts Sub Committee or the People Sub Committee (depending on the nature of the complaint).
  • Stage 3 of the procedure will be undertaken by an Appeal Panel of upto three Trustee Board members who have not had prior involvement.

Notes

  •  At any stage in the process the VAL may seek specialist external assistance with resolution. This could include mediation or arbitration.
  • The Complainant has the right to be accompanied to any formal meeting by a colleague/friend but not by a legal representative.
  • In some circumstances, there may be a need for Managers/Trustees to delegate their responsibility to an appropriate senior member of the VAL Executive Management Team/Trustee Board. Examples include extended periods of leave, illness, specific personal circumstances, prior involvement or declaration of interest.
  • Variation to the timescales specified in the Procedure may be sought/allowed in exceptional circumstances and will need to be agreed with and notified to both parties. Any agreed extension should not exceed 15 days.
  • Any reference to days should be read as working days.

Contact details for Reena Purewal: bhavini.l@valonline.org.uk, 0116 257 5034.