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You can view all the information on this page more easily by clicking on the PDF or word document below 

How can you make a complaint? 


POLICY Complaints Procedure


Many people may approach OPEN MINDS at times when they feel vulnerable or anxious. If services are not satisfactory, this may be particularly distressing. It is very important for OPEN MINDS to be aware of areas of dissatisfaction and to correct any shortcomings.


Service users need to have the right to complain about the service they receive by means of free and clear access to a complaint procedure.


This procedure is to enable people using services of, or taking part in activities organised by OPEN MINDS to be heard when they feel things have gone wrong.


OPEN MINDS aim to ensure that complaints/problems are resolved quickly, fairly and as close to the point of service delivery as possible to ensure that the individuals involved and the organisation as a whole benefit from the experience.



OPEN MINDS also have mechanisms to hear suggestions that individuals may have to improve services.


Before making a complaint, service users should think about whether their issue could be resolved by using the suggestion process and if it is felt that this may be the case then this avenue should be tried first.


Suggestions can be emailed to

To make a suggestion anonymously go to the bottom of the website and use the contacts form. In the email section simply input and your suggestion will be anonymous.


Please read this policy before completing the complaints form on page 15

Who Can Complain?


1. Any individual who is receiving a service from OPEN MINDS

1. Any individual who has received a service from OPEN MINDS

2. Any individual who has been refused a service from OPEN MINDS.

3. Any individual acting on their behalf.


The Principles

1. People making complaints have the right to be treated equally and not suffer discrimination.

2. Complaints are to be treated seriously and dealt with in good time.

3. There should be ease of access to enable service users or their representatives to make their views known.

4. There should be clearly indicated means of challenging decisions on service provision/non provision or other matters of concern to service users.

5. No person should be involved in investigating a complaint relating to his/her own actions or judgement.

6. Complaints are to be treated with an open mind, and will be investigated without prejudice. Those making a complaint must be reassured that complaining will not result in any discrimination against them.

7. The overall number of complaints is to be recorded and monitored.






People making complaints (the complainants) have the right to confidentiality. If requested and appropriate, names of complainants will not be disclosed in investigating complaints.


Limits on confidentiality:

  1. The person being complained against (the respondent) has the right to sufficient information to present their own version of events.

  2. This means that where the complaint is by a client about their therapist and relating to events occurring within the counselling session, the counsellor can discuss their perception of events.

  3. Wherever possible the counsellor’s defence should avoid breaking the client’s confidentiality beyond the immediate incident under discussion.

  4. Anonymous complaints may not be investigated if they appear to be malicious.

  5. The complainant should also be aware that anonymous complaints do not always allow for the complainant to be made aware of any possible resolution.




The Procedure


The procedure identifies two types of complaints:


• Informal Complaints – those that appear to be able to be resolved quickly and easily e.g. complaint about people talking too loudly in corridor.


• Formal Complaints – those that appear to be more serious and which should follow a set procedure e.g. complaint that discrimination has occurred or that the confidentiality policy has been breached.


Informal Complaints

If you have an informal complaint any member of staff will be happy to discuss it with you and take any action required.


If you feel that an informal complaint has not been remedied to your satisfaction you can decide to make a formal complaint.




Formal Complaints – A 3 Step process


1. If you have a complaint about any service, individual or activity which you wish to be handled formally, . You can also email the Managing Director to discuss this on


Written postal complaints about the Managing Director should be addressed to The Chairperson, OPEN MINDS, 28 Christchurch Road,DN1 2QL


Complaints can be submitted by email to: or

subject headed FAO: relevant professional

(​Chairperson, Managing Director, Vice-Chairperson, Company Secretary​) ​


The person investigating the complaint, whether the Managing Director or Chairperson, is known as the investigating officer. At their discretion the investigating officer may seek the support of Open Minds’ external Human Resources and/or other members of the Board of Directors.


2. Where formal complaints are raised with the investigating officer, the investigating officer will ask how you would like the complaint to be dealt with.


There are two options as to how formal complaints can be dealt with and these are:


• You can use the complaint form to detail your complaint and opt out of mediation.


• You can use the complaint form to detail your complaint, and opt into mediation meetings where appropriate.


Mediation meetings would incorporate the complainant and a support person of their choice; the respondent and a support person of their choice; and the investigating officer along with possible other investigation support or human resources support.


The aim of a mediation meeting would not be to attribute blame but rather to examine ways of resolving the situation, which are acceptable to everyone.


Please be aware that the complainant can request mediation meetings but the respondent has the right to refuse these.


Where mediation meetings are not possible or fail to achieve an acceptable result, you can continue with the formal written complaint following the steps below.


3. In the case of FORMAL WRITTEN COMPLAINTS, the following procedure shall apply:


  1. If not immediately clear from the guidance on the following page,  the Chairperson will decide, from the nature of the complaint, who is the appropriate person/people to deal with the complaint.


  1. The person making the complaint will receive an acknowledgement of their complaint from the appropriate person (the investigating officer) within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint.


  1. The complaint will be investigated, and the complainant given a response, within 25 working days of the complaint being received.


If for any reason it seems unlikely that the original time period for response is not going to be met, the person making the complaint will be advised of this fact and a new time-scale for completion will be agreed with them.


  1. The investigating officer will make a judgement as to whether each complaint is UPHELD, NOT UPHELD OR NOT SUBSTANTIATED and detail any action which they recommend to be taken as a result of the complaint.


  1. This information will be passed to the Chairperson who will respond in writing on behalf of OPEN MINDS.


Appeal Process:


  1. The complainant should be given the right to state whether they are satisfied with the response and if not whether they wish the complaint to be considered by the Management Committee (Board of Directors) as a whole.


  1. Complainants who are not satisfied with the response should write to the Management Committee, within 10 working days, outlining why they are not satisfied with the response.


  1. The Management Committee will discuss the complaint at the next committee meeting and make a judgement as to whether each complaint should be further investigated, and/or whether the complaint is UPHELD, NOT UPHELD OR NOT SUBSTANTIATED and note any action which should be taken as a result of the complaint.


  1. At the Management Committee’s discretion they can seek independent support at this point from VCF agencies with whom Open Minds’ work.

  2. If such agencies are to be part of the appeal process the complainant must be informed and given the right to refuse this process if their confidentiality will be affected.


  1. The complainant will be informed in writing of the outcome and will be given the opportunity to state whether they are satisfied with the response.


  1. The decision of the Management Committee is final








to any member of staff


if not resolved





Step 1 Speak to (or write to) the Managing Director or write to the Chairperson to explain your concerns


Step 2 The Managing Director or the Chairperson will offer you the opportunity to complete a complaints form AND arrange a mediation meeting


if not resolved (OR IF STEP 2 IS NOT APPROPRIATE)


Step 3 You can complete the complaints form yourself, or the Managing Director or the Chairperson will complete a complaints form with you and then investigate your complaint


if not resolved


The response can be appealed to the Management Committee.


This decision is final



Who to address FORMAL WRITTEN complaints to:


  1. Formal complaints about the Chair of the Management Committee should be addressed to the Vice-Chair or Company Secretary.


These will be dealt with by either the full Management Committee or by a Sub-Group appointed by the Management Committee, which would not include the person who is being complained about.


  1. Formal complaints about individual members of the Management Committee should be addressed to the Chairperson of the Management Committee.


  1. Formal complaints about any member of staff,  paid or unpaid,  should be addressed to the Managing Director or Chairperson


  1. Formal complaints about any service user should be addressed to the Managing Director or Chairperson


  1. Any complaint, which alleges malpractice by a counsellor, can be dealt with under OPEN MINDS’s complaints procedure by following the steps outlined above.


The address for all written postal complaints is

[i.e.  Chairperson, Managing Director, Vice-Chairperson, Company Secretary]


OPEN MINDS Counselling Service,

28 Christchurch Road, Doncaster, DN1 2QL


Complaints can be submitted by email to: or

subject headed FAO: relevant professional

(​Chairperson, Managing Director, Vice-Chairperson, Company Secretary​) ​


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