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Complaints Policy

INTRODUCTION

The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue, Holland Park (“the Community”) is committed to addressing all complaints from its members. It is expected that the majority of complaints will be resolved at an early stage with a satisfactory outcome.

It is in everyone’s interest that complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. The experience of the first contact between the complainant and the Community can be crucial in determining whether a complaint will escalate.

This document sets out the procedures to deal with complaints relating to the Community. In compliance with the law this procedure is to be well-publicised and made publicly available.

Certain formal complaints fall outside the scope of this document such as staff grievances or disciplinary procedures.

The goals of the formal complaints procedure
Our Formal Complaints procedure is designed to:

  • To provide a fair complaints procedure that is clear and easy to use.
  • Ensure that all complaints are investigated in a timely manner and dealt with professionally, efficiently and fairly.
  • To treat all complaints seriously.
  • To always treat you with courtesy and respect.

We see the complaints process as a means of reviewing our practices and processes and thereby improving the services which we provide.

MANAGEMENT OF A COMPLAINT
The Community encourages resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible. It is a precondition of the complaints procedure that reasonable attempts should be made to resolve issues on an informal basis (at stage 1) and the Honorary Secretary shall have the discretion, to be exercised reasonably, not to allow a complaint to be pursued where this precondition has not been met.

Equally, formal procedures may be invoked when all attempts to resolve a concern informally prove unsuccessful, and the person raising the concern remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further.

Stage 1: Local Resolution (the Informal Stage)
1. If members have a complaint, they should contact a member of the office staff in the first instance. If the member of staff cannot resolve the matter alone it may be necessary for him/her to consult a member of the Executive Committee.

If the complaint is from a non-member this should be addressed in the first instance to the community at admin@hollandparksynagogue.org.uk.

2. Complaints made to the Honorary President will usually be referred to the relevant member of staff unless the Honorary President deems it appropriate to deal with the matter personally.

3. Should the matter not be resolved within 7 working days the member will be advised to proceed with their complaint in accordance with stage 2 of this procedure.

Stage 2: Honorary President Resolution (the Formal Stage)

1. If the member wishes to take the matter further, they should put their complaint in writing addressed to the Honorary President. The date of receipt of the letter will be noted on the complaint and be considered the date at which the complaint is established. The Honorary President will acknowledge in writing receipt of the complaint within 3 working days of the date of receipt. The member will need to submit:

  • Full Name (required)
  • Telephone Number (optional, but may speed up the process if we need more information)
  • Full Address (required)
  • Email (required)  Complaint Details (required)
  • The outcome the complainant would like to see as a result of this complaint (required)

2. The Honorary President will investigate the complaint. This will usually involve a meeting with the member and relevant members of staff which will take place within 7 working days of receiving the complaint where reasonably possible. Written records of all meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint will be kept.

3. The Honorary President will inform the member of the decision in writing, giving reasons for this decision.

4. Where the complaint is about the Honorary President, the complaint should be addressed to the Honorary Secretary. The Honorary Secretary will ask for a report from the Honorary President and for all the relevant documents. The Honorary Secretary may also call for a briefing from members of staff, and will in most cases, speak to or meet with the member to discuss the matter further. Once the Honorary Secretary is satisfied that, so far as is practicable, all of the relevant facts have been established, the member will be informed of the decision in writing. The Honorary Secretary will give reasons for their decision.

5. If the member is still not satisfied with the decision, they should proceed to Stage 3 of this procedure.

Stage 3: The Board of Trustees Complaints Panel

1. A complainant dissatisfied with the response at Stage 3 may make a written request to the Administrator that the matter be referred to the Complaints Panel (“the Panel”) of the Board of Trustees. This request must be made in writing within 10 working days of notification of the Honorary President or Chair of the Board of Trustee’s decision at previous stages and must include a statement specifying reasons for the review request and any perceived failures arising from the investigation process followed. The Administrator will acknowledge the request in writing within 5 working days.

2. The Administrator will invite the Board of Trustees to put in writing its response to the complainant's reasons. The Board of Trustees will do this within 15 working days and at the end of that period (whether or not the Board of Trustees has responded) the Administrator will convene a meeting of the Complaints Panel of the Board of Trustees. That meeting will be held as quickly as practicable given the need to find a date that is reasonably convenient for the complainant and the members of the Panel. Whenever possible, the meeting will beheld within 15 working days of the end of the Community's response time. At any meeting, the complainant will be entitled to be accompanied by a friend but legal representation will not be allowed.

3. The Panel will consist of a minimum of three persons of whom one will be independent of the management and running of the Community. None of the Panel will have been previously involved in the complaint process.

4. The Panel hearing is not a court case and will be as informal as circumstances allow. The complainant will have the opportunity to put her/his reasons for dissatisfaction and to enlarge on them but may not introduce reasons that were not previously put in writing. The Community will have the opportunity to put its side of things and each side, as well as the Panel members, will be able to ask questions. The complainant will have the opportunity to make final comments to the Panel.

5. The Panel may make findings and recommendations and a copy of those findings and recommendations will be sent by electronic mail or otherwise given to the complainant and, where relevant, the person complained about.

6. The Panel will formulate its response as quickly as reasonably possible, aiming to do so within 10 working days, and the Administrator will notify all concerned.

Stage 4: The Charity Commission

If the complainant does not feel completely satisfied by the response they can contact The Charity Commission, PO Box 1227 Liverpool L69 3UG, ‘phone 0845 3000 218, website www.charitycommission.gov.uk.

Record Keeping
Written records of all complaints that reach the formal stage will be kept. Details to be recorded will include the point at which the complaint was resolved, and the action taken by the Community as the result of the complaint.

Confidentiality
All complaints and written correspondence pertaining to the complaint will remain confidential.

Vexatious complaints
If properly followed, a good complaints procedure will limit the number of complaints that become protracted and which do not arrive at an outcome which is satisfactory to all parties involved. However, there will be occasions when, despite properly following all stages of the procedure, the complainant remains dissatisfied.

If a complainant seeks to reopen an issue which has gone through all available stages, including the Board of Trustees complaints panel, the Honorary Secretary may then inform the complainant in writing that the process has been exhausted and that the matter is now considered closed.

Behaviour of complainant
The Community recognises that all its members of staff are dedicated professionals who are committed to delivering high standards. We expect all complainants to respect this and to raise any issues in a polite and calm manner to reflect this.

If a complainant fails to deal with any member of staff in a proper and polite manner, the Honorary President may write to the complainant stating that if they fail to improve their conduct the Community will cease to deal with the complainant or the complaint until the complainant has apologised to the relevant member of staff and improved their behaviour.

If a complainant, despite receiving the above letter, fails to improve his/her conduct then the President is entitled to write to the complainant stating that their behaviour will no longer be tolerated by the Community and that, as a result, the Community will now cease to deal with the complainant or the complaint until the complainant has apologised to the relevant member of staff / member and improved their behaviour.

Wed, 21 February 2024 12 Adar I 5784