Complaints procedure

How your complaint will be dealt with by Girlguiding

How to apply the Girlguiding complaints policy when receiving or making a complaint.

Most Girlguiding complaints or feedback can be resolved informally. This is the first way to address why someone is unhappy, and it’s often the quickest and most efficient route to resolving a complaint. If the complaint is about a volunteer, before you escalate it through the complaints policy, we encourage you to try to resolve it informally with local guiding. Do this by raising it directly with the unit leader or local commissioner.

If a complaint cannot be resolved informally, you should raise a complaint with Girlguiding HQ, as outlined below.

Where a complaint is about an employee, we encourage you to contact Girlguiding HR to see if the complaint can be resolved informally.

The exception to this is a safeguarding concern.

As a complainant or an Investigator, you must read what kind of complaints the policy covers before contacting the HQ Complaints Team. We will aim to respond to you in a timely manner, but as complaints about local guiding are investigated by volunteers the timescales can vary. You can find information about complaint investigation timeframes in Appendix A.

How do I make a formal complaint?

If you cannot resolve a complaint informally, you may make a formal complaint to Girlguiding HQ.

You do this in writing, either by emailing [email protected] or by completing our online form, or by telephone or in person. If you make your complaint verbally, you may be asked to put it in writing. If you do not want to write this yourself, you should ask someone to do this on your behalf and show you a copy for approval and for you to sign, before sending it to the HQ Complaints Team.

If you cannot contact us in writing and want reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010, you can contact us by phone on 020 7834 6242.

If you raise a complaint with your local guiding or county/region office instead of the HQ Complaints team, you must follow the same procedure, and the complaint will be reported to the HQ Complaints team.

What do I include in my complaint?

You need to include the following information in your complaint to help us resolve it as quickly as possible:

  • State that you would like to make a complaint.
  • Include any supporting documents and correspondence.
  • Be clear and concise. Give as many details as you can at each stage of the process. As long as they follow a logical order, bullet points and notes are fine.
  • If known, give the names and membership numbers (if volunteers or members) of those involved, as well as the unit, any dates and places and the outcome you are seeking by raising your complaint.
  • If you are complaining about your daughter’s unit, please provide your daughter’s full name and date of birth in your complaint so that she can be identified on our membership system.

Although you are not expected to prove the truth of what you are saying, you will need to demonstrate that there are sufficient grounds for your complaint or feedback in order for this to be investigated.

How do I raise a complaint anonymously?

On rare occasions, it might be necessary to raise a complaint anonymously. We encourage you to disclose your identity, as finding a solution will often rely on open dialogue. However, we will respect your wish if you feel the complaint must be anonymous. As a complainant, if you want to raise a complaint anonymously you should consider the following options:

Option 1: The complainant is happy for their contact details to be passed on, but the relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer is specifically asked to contact the complainant first, before making any further enquiries or disclosing the complaint to individuals involved. This initial discussion will ensure that the complainant is happy with the investigator’s proposed way forward and how the investigator will follow up with the complainant.

Option 2: The complaint is passed on without the complainant’s name or contact details being shared. The relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer will not be able to follow up with the complainant or inform the complainant of any investigation outcomes. When raising an anonymous complaint through option 2, enough information to identify a specific unit, team or staff member within Girlguiding will need to be supplied by the complainant.

If option 2 is chosen we have a duty of care to inform the relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer that a matter has been brought to our attention. The relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer must investigate.

How do I appeal a decision?

If you are not satisfied with the proposed resolution you can contact the HQ Complaints team and the local region commissioner to request an appeal.

Your written request for an appeal must include a statement as to why the response is not satisfactory and provide evidence to support the appeal. You must submit the request within 14 calendar days of the date of you being informed of the complaint outcome. You can find more information in the appeals process below. If the complaint was regarding a member of staff, you must submit the written appeal to the Head of HR.

Only the complainant or the accused party has the right of appeal.

Appendix A


HQ aims to respond to all emails received within five working days. Any alterations to this timeframe will be advised of on the complaints email address automatic response message. Once your complaint has been identified as per the complaints policy, it will be passed locally for investigation (normally within five working days of the complainant’s last contact with HQ Complaints team or country/region office). The complainant will be acknowledged by local guiding within seven days of them receiving your complaint. 

At any stage of the complaints process, the investigator, appeal investigator or final reviewer will give the relevant parties an estimate of how long it will take to provide the final response as soon as they are reasonably able to do so. Each complaint is considered on a case-by-case basis. If the complaint and/or any stage of the complaints process is taking longer than anticipated to resolve, the relevant parties will be kept informed of this and told when to expect to receive further contact. The expectation is that unless agreed otherwise, the Investigator/reviewer and the relevant parties are in touch at least once every two weeks (14 days) until the complaint is closed.

An appeals request must be received in writing within 14 calendar days of the date the relevant parties are informed of the complaint outcome.

An appeal request is responded to within seven days of a decision decline.

A final review will be concluded within 25 days of the request being made.

Girlguiding policies and procedures are reviewed and updated from time to time as part of a review cycle.