This policy sets out a procedure whereby anyone may raise a complaint against Woodlands Group of Churches, one of its congregations, its activities or members of staff. It outlines the process that will be followed to achieve a resolution of the problem.

There is a separate Grievance Procedure set out in the Staff Handbook which will cover any employment related issues, but for anything not covered within the scope of the Grievance Procedure, staff may raise a complaint under this procedure.

Your Complaint

Most complaints can be resolved simply by discussion with the relevant member of staff. Where this is impossible for any reason, a formal complaint should be raised.

A complaint may be received by email or in writing.

Stage 1 Complaint

In the first instance, issues and concerns should be raised directly with your congregation leader. If you think that your congregation leader has not resolved the issue or problem satisfactorily, or if your complaint relates to your congregation leader, you can set out your complaint in writing to the church’s complaints handler. 

Stage 2 Complaint

The best way to do this is by sending an email to our designated complaints inbox at complaints@woodlandschurch.net or to send a letter marked for the attention of “The Complaints Handler” to Woodlands Church, Belgrave Road, Bristol BS8 2AA. 

Once received, your complaint will be recorded in our register of complaints which is audited annually by the Trustees.

Acknowledgement

We aim to resolve complaints as soon as possible, and will aim to acknowledge your complaint within 14 working days of receipt. Our acknowledgement will explain the next steps and the likely timescale for sending you our written response to your complaint. We will always aim to respond to your complaint within 8 weeks of receipt of your complaint.

Understanding

We want to ensure that we fully understand your complaint. Therefore, it may be necessary or appropriate to take any of the following steps: 

1)    ask you to provide further details of your complaint in writing; 

2)    for us to write to you to clarify our understanding of your complaint and understand the outcome you may be seeking; or

3)    for us to have a discussion with you to hear the details of your complaint.or

4)    for us to seek information as appropriate from any staff members involved in the complaint

Investigation

Your complaint will be overseen by Mandy Addison, one of our Trustees, who will usually carry out the investigation herself or in the case of any possible compromise of independence, arrange for an independent investigation to be carried out on her behalf. The investigator will usually be another long-standing member of the church. Your complaint will be reviewed carefully and the findings will be shared with the Trustees.

Response

We will respond to you with the outcome of the investigation in writing, usually by email but you may let us know if you would prefer a letter. We will set out our response following the investigation and how we reached it.

Remedies

We will discuss with you any remedies that may be appropriate in the light of the investigation.

Our aim is always to seek a resolution with which all parties are satisfied and we will work to the best of our abilities towards this end.

We do recognise however that there may rarely be occasion where this is not possible.

If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint using our internal complaints handling procedure, you may be eligible to escalate it to the Charity Commission. 

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission regulates registered charities in England and Wales.

You may refer a complaint to the Charity Commission where there is a serious risk of harm to the charity, or the people it was set up to help.

Examples of serious issues include:

  • a charity not following the law, with damaging consequences to its reputation and public trust in charities generally;

  • serious harm to the people the charity helps or other people who come into contact with the charity through its work;

  • a person or organisation receiving significant financial benefit from a charity;

  • criminal, illegal or terrorist activity;

  • a charity set up for illegal or improper purposes;

  • a charity losing significant amounts of money;

  • a charity losing significant assets, for example land or buildings.

More information is available on the Charity Commission website