As a Big Local partnership, you should discuss and agree what kind of procedure you need. Your Big Local rep can help with examples, but it is your discussion and local agreement which is vital to ensure a shared understanding and common, workable approach. (You might even try out the procedure on each other to see if it works.)
The purpose of a procedure is to guide the Big Local partnership, and to be open with the wider community about how the partnership reviews and responds to compliments, concerns and complaints. The procedure will include the name and contact details of the person responsible for responding to them.
Responding to compliments, concerns and complaints
Your procedure should set out clearly how you will respond to each of these. In relation to complaints, this is so you can reduce any tension or conflict, and achieve speedy resolution. So you should be clear about whom to contact, whether you need something in writing, how quickly you will respond and what happens if things are not resolved satisfactorily at the start.
As residents who are members of the partnership and visible local volunteers, you might decide that your first point of contact should be a paid worker or the locally trusted organisation. Whoever it is, their details, as well as your procedure, should be publicly available, on a website or in other sources of information.
Points to consider for a complaints procedure
- Refer to your code of conduct and to the expectations you have of each other as a partnership, and explain what you will do if someone behaves outside this.
- Individual partnership members do not have to deal with a complaint on their own, but they do need to know the named contact to whom to refer the complaint. This ensures that the individual member is not left acting as a go-between, or managing a complaint that no one else is aware of.
- It is useful to have a form asking for the name of the complainant, their contact details, details of the complaint, any evidence, and the preferred solution or resolution.
- The named contact will make an initial response to a complaint within five days of receiving it.
- In all cases, the chair and locally trusted organisation will be informed within five days.
- A fuller reply might be made within a month of the complaint first being raised. This gives the named contact time to seek further information from the person complaining and from those best placed to respond.
- If the complaint is about the locally trusted organisation, the Big Local rep or the paid worker, then it is unlikely that the partnership will need to respond. Complaints about the rep should be sent to Renaisi or Local Trust, while locally trusted organisations will have their own complaints procedures.
- All complaints will be raised at the followiong partnership meeting, and correspondence will be kept on file by the locally trusted organisation. Where a point of general interest has been made, a summary or clarification can be posted on the website or other public source of information.
- You will also need a process for responding when the person making a complaint is not content with your response. This may include:
- a face-to-face meeting to which the complainant may bring a friend or advocate
- agreement to take no further action
- a request for support from Local Trust.
In our experience, the
reason most people complain is because they can't get the information they
want. This leads to their speculating about how Big Local funding is being used
and making uninformed judgements. So the best way to prevent complaints being
made is to communicate openly, transparently and consistently about what you