Child Soldiers International views complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future, as well as a chance to put things right for the person or organisation that has made the complaint.

Our policy is:

  • To provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy to use for anyone wishing to make a complaint.
  • To publicise the existence of our complaints procedure so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint.
  • To make sure everyone at Child Soldiers International knows what to do if a complaint is received.
  • To make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way.
  • To make sure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired.
  • To gather information which helps us to improve what we do.

Definition of a complaint

A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, about any aspect of Child Soldiers International.

Complaints may come from any person or organisation who has a legitimate interest in Child Soldiers International.  This policy does not cover complaints from staff, who should follow the Grievance policies in Child Soldiers International’s staff handbook.

A complaint can be received in person, by phone, by email or in writing.

Confidentiality

All complaint information will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know, and in full compliance with the Data Protection Act 1988.

Responsibility

Overall responsibility for this policy and its implementation lies with the Director of Operations. The policy is reviewed annually.

Complaints procedure

Written complaints may be sent to Child Soldiers International at 9 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1EP, United Kingdom, or by e-mail to info@child-soldiers.org.

Verbal complaints may be made by telephone at +44 207 367 4110.

Receiving complaints

Complaints may arrive through the channels publicised in the complaints procedure (above) or through any other contact or opportunity the complainant may have.

If a complaint is made verbally, Child Soldiers International will request the following information, and record this is in writing:

  • The facts of the complaint;
  • The complainant's name, address and telephone number or email address;
  • The relationship of the complainant to Child Soldiers International (e.g. supporter, representative of partner organisation)

Where appropriate, Child Soldiers International will ask the complainant to send a written account by post or by email so that the complaint is recorded in the complainant’s own words.

All complainants should be informed of the following:

  • Child Soldiers International has a complaints procedure, and the complaint will be treated in accordance with this procedure;
  • What will happen next, and how long it will take.

Stage one

Any complaint to Child Soldiers International must be recorded in the complaints log immediately, and reported to the Director of Operations. If the complaint has not already been resolved, the Director of Operations will delegate an appropriate person to investigate it and to take appropriate action.

In many cases, a complaint is best resolved by the person responsible for the issue being complained about. If the complaint has been received by that person, they may be able to resolve it swiftly and should do so if possible and appropriate.

If the complaint relates to a specific person, they will be informed and given a fair opportunity to respond.

Child Soldiers International will acknowledge any complaints within a week. The acknowledgement will say who is dealing with the complaint and when the person complaining can expect a reply. A copy of this complaints procedure will be attached.

Ideally complainants should receive a definitive response in writing, within four weeks. If this is not possible, for example if an investigation has not been fully completed, a progress report will be sent, indicating when a full reply will be given.

Whether the complaint is justified or not, the written response to the complainant will outline:

  • the action taken to investigate the complaint;
  • the conclusions from the investigation; and
  • any action taken as a result of the complaint.

Stage two

If the complainant feels that the problem has not been satisfactorily resolved at Stage One, they can request that the complaint is reviewed at the level of the Board of Trustees. At this stage, the complaint will be passed to the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees.

The request for Board level review should be acknowledged within a week of receiving it. The acknowledgement should say who will deal with the case and when the complainant can expect a reply.

The Treasurer of the Board of Trustees may investigate the facts of the case themselves or delegate a suitably senior person to do so. This may involve reviewing the paperwork of the case and speaking with the person who dealt with the complaint at Stage One.

If the complaint relates to a specific person, they should be informed and given a further opportunity to respond.

Child Soldiers International will aim to provide a definitive response to a complainant within four weeks. If this is not possible, for example if an investigation is not fully completed, a progress report will be sent indicating when a full reply will be given.

Whether the complaint is upheld or not, Child Soldiers International’s response will outline:

  • the action taken to investigate the complaint;
  • the conclusions from the investigation; and
  • any action taken as a result of the complaint.

The decision taken at this stage is final, unless the Board of Trustees decides it is appropriate to seek external assistance with resolution.

External complaints

The complainant may complain to the Charity Commission at any stage of the complaints process.

Information about the kind of complaints the Commission can involve itself in are available at: www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc47.aspx

Variation of the complaints procedure

The Board may vary the procedure for good reason. This may be necessary to avoid a conflict of interest. For example, an individual should not lead of review of a complaint about their own conduct.

Monitoring and learning from complaints

Complaints are reviewed annually to identify any trends which may indicate a need to take further action.