Complaints policy

If you're unhappy with any aspect of Girlguiding, we want to help put this right

We're here to help

It is our aim to for all those in contact with Girlguiding to have an extremely positive experience at all times. If, however, you are unhappy with any aspect of Girlguiding, we want to help put this right.

The sooner you tell us what you are thinking, the quicker we can address your concerns.

Our complaints policy and procedure can be used by anyone who comes into contact with Girlguiding. Our policy is accompanied by guidance on how to make a complaint and how this complaint will be handled.

Statement of purpose

We are committed to resolving all complaints made to us fairly, speedily and in a way which seeks a reasonable resolution. We will make sure that our process is as clear and supportive as possible for all complainants, whether members, volunteers, staff or third parties. This policy, procedure and supporting documents aim to ensure that all complaints are taken seriously and that, wherever appropriate, we have learned from each complaint, to make guiding even more enjoyable and accessible to all.

We encourage people to raise a complaint or issue as soon as possible so that we can begin to address it in good time. We will make sure that all complaints are addressed in line with our standards as set out below. This policy, procedure and supporting documents aim to ensure that complaints are effectively addressed and resolved.

This policy is for:

  • All staff, volunteers, adult members and young members
  • Parents/carers of young members
  • Prospective members/enquirers
  • Third parties who are affected by Girlguiding activities (for example, the owner of a venue)

All complaints must be handled in line with this policy and its related procedures. This is so that we can ensure consistency across HQ and all countries and regions.

Definitions

Commissioner - means a volunteer manager at country, region, county, division
or district level.

Girlguiding - means the Guide Association (registered charity no. 306016) and all
local units, countries, regions, counties, divisions and districts.

HQ - means the headquarters of Girlguiding.

Local guiding – means the local unit, district, division, county and/or the country and region.

Relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer - means a member of Girlguiding staff or a volunteer.

Third party – means someone affected by Girlguiding activities, such as a partner organisation or the owner of a venue being hired/used.

Fair and impartial – means just and unbiased, such as someone who does not have a close relationship with individuals involved in the complaint.

Staff – means anyone employed by Girlguiding, either at HQ or by a country/region or county office.

When does this policy apply?

It applies to all complaints received at any level of Girlguiding.

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about any aspect of Girlguiding that does not fall into the remit of safeguarding or whistleblowing policies.

What kind of complaints does the policy cover?

Complaints about:

  • The standard of experience you may have received from Girlguiding.
  • The behaviour of anyone who may have played a part in delivering that service.
  • Girlguiding policy, communication and resources, or decisions related to these.

Our complaints policy does not cover the following:

  • Matters that have already been investigated through the complaints procedure, including those handled by HQ or local guiding.
  • Disputes that exist in your personal life.
  • A complaint made on behalf of someone else, unless written consent is provided by that person.
  • Disputes between staff or in relation to employment. These are covered by grievance procedures.

Some concerns are best dealt with informally – we welcome all feedback and issues raised with the Complaints team will always be responded to but will not always require a formal organisation under this policy.

What are our standards for handling complaints?

When a complaint is made, Girlguiding HQ will:

  • Deal with all complaints fairly, constructively and consistently.
  • Effectively address complaints to support volunteers to deliver great guiding
  • Listen to complaints and feedback, treat them seriously and learn from them.
  • Share information between local guiding and HQ, ensuring that each complaint is effectively handled and data is collated at HQ as appropriate.
  • Identify safeguarding elements in a complaint that might need to be addressed under our safeguarding policy.
  • Follow the policy and procedure regardless of the point of entry of a complaint, whether it is received by HQ, country/region office or local guiding.
  • Ensure information is handled sensitively and in accordance with data protection legislation.

How do I make a complaint?

Wherever possible we encourage comments and feedback to be shared and dealt with informally unless it is a safeguarding matter. You do this by raising your comments with the appropriate level Girlguiding officer or volunteer.

You can find more information in the complaints procedure under the section: ‘How can a complaint or feedback be raised’. If you are unhappy with the outcome of this and require further action you can then raise a formal complaint through our procedure.

What complaints will not be considered?

Girlguiding will refuse a complaint which is unreasonable, in that it is abusive, frivolous, vexatious or malicious in the reasonable opinion of a senior Girlguiding officer, such as the director of operations. Girlguiding will also refuse to engage in repetitive discussions about closed complaints.

What information do I give when making a complaint?

When making a complaint or raising a comment, you must include the following information:

  • Your contact details
  • Who or what you are making a complaint about, including names if known
  • Where and when the events of the complaint happened
  • The outcome you are seeking by raising your complaint

You can find more guidance on how to make a complaint in our complaints procedure.

How do I make an anonymous complaint?

If you want to raise your complaint anonymously, please read the ‘anonymous complaints’ section in the complaints procedure.

Any anonymous complaint will be dealt with in line with this policy and procedure, as long as enough information is given to follow it up.

What is our complaints structure?

HQ Complaints team - Our Complaints team is here to help members, volunteers, staff or third parties with everything related to complaints.

Country and region office – Girlguiding is broken down into ten countries and regions, each with its own office that supports guiding in their area. Each country/region office is required to report quarterly on regional complaint data to the HQ Complaints team.

Commissioners – Commissioners give support and guidance to volunteers in their area who are dealing with a complaint. Commissioners are required to report quarterly on local complaint data to their country/region office, and to alert high-risk complaints to the HQ Complaints team whenever necessary.

Local guiding - Each country and region is divided into smaller areas, to support our volunteers, make communication easier and meet the needs of guiding locally. All complaints in an area are led by the local commissioner.

Relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer – All staff and volunteers will at some point deal with situations that could lead to complaints.

Who will handle my complaint?

Complaints about local guiding

Investigators are appointed by local guiding in conjunction with country/region office and Girlguiding headquarters, and your complaint will be passed on to the most appropriate person to investigate locally - normally a local commissioner who is not involved in your complaint. This commissioner will either handle the complaint investigation herself or appoint a fair and impartial person to do so on her behalf. Complex cases may require a complaints adviser or other senior volunteer to carry out the investigation.

Complaints about a national volunteer

Complaints about a volunteer involved at a national level will be addressed through the relevant structure, and the most appropriate volunteer manager or committee member will be identified to carry out the investigation.

Complaints about a staff member

If the complaint is about a staff member this will be passed to our HR department who will identify the most appropriate manager at HQ or country/region office to carry out the investigation. Support for investigating complaints about staff will be provided by the HR department in line with the Girlguiding disciplinary procedure.

When can I expect a response?

Girlguiding Headquarters aims to acknowledge your complaint or comments within five working days. You can find more information in the timeframes section of the complaints procedure.

Confidentiality

By using our complaints procedure you are agreeing to us using your personal information related to your complaint for the purposes of investigation.

Information relating to investigations under this policy will be treated sensitively. It will not routinely be shared with other volunteers (other than commissioners), young members or parents unless the nature or outcome of the complaint requires us to do so.

A person has the right to be told the nature of the evidence upon which a complaint has been made about them. This does not, however, mean that the source will be shared in writing unless agreed by the complainant. While every effort will be taken to ensure that your identity is not revealed without your consent, it may be that the nature of the allegations or evidence indicates their source.

You can find more information about how we use personal information in our data protection policy.

Monitoring, reporting and learning

Girlguiding headquarters, countries and regions and commissioners are responsible for learning from complaints and feedback, and sharing and putting into place that learning. This includes monitoring and recording all complaints and outcomes, to identify emerging issues and trends. All complaints must be reported by the local County Commissioner to C/R office and/or HQ in accordance with our reporting templates. This monitoring helps us make sure that lessons have been learned and the appropriate support is given during the procedure.

This includes monitoring and recording all complaints and outcomes, to identify emerging issues and trends. All complaints must be reported by the local county commissioner to country/region office and/or HQ in accordance with our reporting templates. This monitoring helps us make sure that lessons have been learned and the appropriate support is given during the procedure.

What is our reporting structure?

All complaints that lead to the complaints procedure being initiated at local guiding level must be reported by the local county commissioner to the county/region office on a quarterly basis, and high-risk complaints to the HQ Complaints team whenever necessary.

The country/region office will, in turn, report their local complaint data to HQ on a quarterly basis, to help Girlguiding identify and address emerging issues.

Further information

Staff and volunteers must understand and follow all policies and procedures that apply to them.

View all our policies