Complaints Handling Policy Statement
Updated August 2016
- Purpose and Scope
1.1 There may be occasions, where the actions of North Plymouth Community Church, unintentionally do not meet the expectations of the public, members or service users. This procedure is therefore designed to ensure appropriate consideration is given to each complaint in a way that is as fair and impartial as possible.
1.2 North Plymouth Community Church aims to handle all complaints fairly and honestly regardless of who makes a complaint. North Plymouth Community Church treats all members of the community equitably and will not show bias to any particular individual or group.
1.3 North Plymouth Community Church will endeavour to follow best practice for confidentiality and data protection throughout the complaints procedure, and this would also be expected of any complainant.
- Complaints Procedure
2.1 North Plymouth Community Church’s desired method of dealing with conflict or disagreements is an informal process and is based on Matthew 18: 15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.” Many complaints can be resolved informally by discussing the issue with a member of the North Plymouth Community Church Leadership Team or Trustees who are ultimately responsible for all North Plymouth Community Church staff, volunteers and projects.
2.2 If, after discussing any concerns with someone from the North Plymouth Community Church Leadership Team or Trustees, the complainant remains dissatisfied he/she can make a formal complaint. Matthew 18:17 states that anything not resolved informally should be taken to the church. In this context we deem ‘the church’ to mean the church Leadership Team. Formal complaints must therefore be made in writing by letter or e-mail to the North Plymouth Community Church Leadership Team Leader. If the complaint is against any member of the Leadership Team however, then the complaint should be addressed and sent to the Chair of Trustees.
2.3 In order to avoid ambiguity, the complainant should make it clear at this stage that they wish it to be taken as a formal complaint by stating so clearly in the first line of the letter or e-mail.
2.4 If complaints or comments are received that do not meet the criteria outlined above, or are not intended to be formal complaints, North Plymouth Community Church retains the right to deal with those comments via its formal process if deemed appropriate.
2.5 If the Leadership Team Leader or Chair of Trustees is unclear on any point in the complaint they will contact the complainant to seek clarification, in order to give full consideration to all the points they wish to make.
- Timeframes & Process
The process undertaken by the North Plymouth Community Church ‘investigator’ should be as follows:
3.1 The investigator will conduct a face to face interview with the complainant, to be followed up by any written evidence where appropriate.
3.2 The investigator will then gather relevant information and evidence from other sources, including face to face interviews with the person or the leader of the project that the complaint is specifically regarding, and any potential witnesses.
3.3 There will then be further opportunity for the investigator to go back to the complainant for more information or clarification where appropriate.
3.4 During all meetings, both parties are to have an appropriate representative of their choice present to ensure accountability. The investigator may have a senior member of the staff team, a member of the Leadership team or a Trustee to accompany them and the complainant may have a friend or a family member to accompany them. Minutes of each meeting must be agreed afterwards by both parties.
3.5 The Team Leader will send a full response to the complainant.
If the complainant is unhappy with the initial decision, the complainant may lodge an appeal against the decision or outcome. In this instance, two or three Trustees will form a ‘working group’ and will undertake their own independent process and will send a full response to the complainant, the investigator and the Leadership Team.
Conflict of Interest Policy Statement
Updated August 2016
This policy applies to all trustees & members of the Church Council.
Why we have a policy
Conflicts of interests may arise where an individual’s personal or family interests and/or loyalties conflict with those of North Plymouth Community Church (NPCC).
Such conflicts may create problems; they can:
- inhibit free discussion;
- result in decisions or actions that are not in the interests of NPCC; and
- risk the impression that the Church Council/Trustees have acted improperly.
The aim of this policy is to protect both the Church Council/Trustees and the individuals involved from any appearance of impropriety.
The declaration of interests
Accordingly, we ask all trustees & members of the Church Council to declare their interests, and any gifts or hospitality received in connection with their role in NPCC.
The information provided will be processed in accordance with data protection principles as set out in the Data Protection Act 1998. Data will be processed only to ensure that trustees and members of the Church Council act in the best interests of NPCC. The information provided will not be used for any other purpose.
What to do if you face a conflict of interest
You should declare your interest at the earliest opportunity and offer to withdraw from any subsequent discussion.
You may, however, participate in discussions from which you may indirectly benefit, for example where the benefits are universal to all users, or where your benefit is minimal.
If you fail to declare an interest that is known to the secretary and/or chair of the Church Council, then the secretary and/or chair of the Church Council will declare that interest.
Decisions taken where there is a conflict of interest
In the event of the Church Council/Trustees having to decide upon a question in which a Church Council/Trustee member has a conflict of interest, then that person may not vote on matters affecting that interest.
All decisions under a conflict of interest will be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. The minute will record: the nature and extent of the conflict and the actions taken to manage the conflict.
Where a trustee benefits from the decision, this will be reported in the annual report and accounts in accordance with SORP 2000.
Investment Policy Statement
Updated August 2016
The charity’s investment powers are now conferred by the Trustee’s Act 2000. A minimum of four holding trustees are appointed by resolution of the existing body.
The income from the charities assets is to be used solely for the purpose of supporting the activities of the church, but specifically not for the maintenance of its fabric.
The total income generated at present is more than sufficient to meet the Church’s normal outgoings.
Specifically, any grants received are to be agreed & signed off by the Church Council, not by the Treasurer, to ensure separation of duties.
The investments must be managed by the Church Council in such a way as to provide sufficient income to enable the Church to carry out its purposes effectively both in the short term and over the longer term.
Reserves Policy Statement
Updated October 2017
- Purpose and Scope
The Charity Commission requires that the Managing Trustees of every charity establish and record a reserves policy for the charity. The term “reserves” means those funds which could be available for use quickly to meet an emergency situation. The reserves policy must be included in the annual report accompanying the accounts.
The Trustees of North Plymouth Community Church recognise that reserves are needed to manage cash flow delays where income arrives later than expenditure. Cash in the bank at any one time is normally sufficient to cover such delays. The Trustees will regularly consider the levels of current and expected income and expenditure and assess the level of cash reserves required to meet any shortfalls in cash receipts over payments. The Treasurer is authorised to accumulate a sum equivalent to between one and six months’ expenditure as reserves. The Trustees will consider the level of reserves to be held to cover any expected cash flow delays as well as potential emergencies where significant expenditure may be required before additional income can be raised. If the amount of reserves held exceeds the level assessed as required, the Trustees will develop a plan for using these excess reserves in a way that fulfils the charitable objectives of the church.
Risk Management Policy Statement
Updated August 2016
- Good risk management is a key operational approach for enabling the North Plymouth Community Church to successfully achieve its priorities. This policy provides a framework for the Church Council to manage risk proactively and ensures that control measures and actions are applied.
- The objective of this policy is to ensure the adoption and regular review of systems and procedures to improve and safeguard the effective operation of North Plymouth Community Church by identifying and managing potential risks wherever possible.
- Risk is defined as any uncertain event that may have a positive or negative impact on the North Plymouth Community Church’s ability to fulfil its purpose of advancing the Christian faith.
- The Church Council recognises that it is neither possible nor appropriate to seek to eliminate risk entirely but risks can be managed in an endeavour to minimise or maximise their likelihood and/or impact. Effective risk management will help to increase the likelihood of the North Plymouth Community Church fulfilling its mission.
- An open and receptive approach to solving risk problems is adopted by the Church Council.
- Key risks are identified and closely monitored on a regular basis, with regular reporting and review.
- Risk Appetite is the amount of risk that the Church Council is willing to accept in relation to key drivers of the organisation. This approach to reviewing risk enables the Church Council to adopt appropriate behaviours, decisions and controls according to North Plymouth Community Church’s priorities. The Church Council’s risk management philosophy is to minimise risk but this approach enables them to accept additional risk, providing the impact has been evaluated, mitigation measures have been put in place and a regular robust monitoring process is established.
- The Church Council recognise that taking risks is vital when seeking to communicate the Gospel. The Church Council must therefore embrace risks which contribute to advancing the Christian faith whilst ensuring those risks that might have a negative impact must be avoided or minimised.
- Prior to any risk being accepted, full consideration must be given as to the likelihood of the risk occurring and the impact on the Church if the risk were occurred. Any risk that seriously threatens the ability of the North Plymouth Community Church now or in the future to further its purpose of advancing the Christian faith will not be acceptable. If such a risk cannot be extinguished then all steps will be taken to minimise the likelihood of the risk occurring.
There are five different risk categories:
e.g. inappropriate organisational structure
e.g. committee lacking relevant skills or commitment
e.g. conflict of interest
e.g. poor staff recruitment and training
e.g. data lost due to insecure device management
e.g. IT fire walls not providing adequate security
e.g. inadequate reserves and cash flow
e.g. movements between different account headings not scrutinised, which could conceal error or fraud
e.g. errors, omissions and inappropriate transactions not identified and acted upon
e.g. changing government policy
e.g. turbulent economic or political environment
e.g. bomb threats
e.g. acting in breach of trust
e.g. poor knowledge of legal responsibilities
e.g. poor knowledge of regulations and procedures
Risk Strategy and Responsibilities
Members of Council/Trustees
The Church Council’s role in the oversight of risk is to set the ethos for risk management and to promote the culture of risk management within the church, including:
- determining the risk appetite for key drivers of the organisation, which types of risk are acceptable and which are not, setting of standards and expectations of staff with respect to conduct and probity
- approving major decisions affecting the Church Council’s risk profile or exposure
- monitoring the management of significant risks on an annual basis by the Church Council
- satisfying itself that the less significant risks are being actively managed, with the appropriate controls in place and working effectively
- annually reviewing the approach to risk management and approve changes or improvements to key elements of its processes and procedures.
- lead the embedding of risk management throughout the Church, encourage forward planning to assess potential future risks and provide training for all relevant members of staff
Breach of the policy
- The Church Council will take seriously any instances of non-adherence to the policy by its staff or leaders. Any instance of breach of the policy will be investigated and, where appropriate, disciplinary action will be considered.
Volunteer Management Policy Statement
Updated August 2016
Many roles within the church are fulfilled by volunteers. Indeed the church could not function without volunteers. These include leadership roles, office roles, children’s workers, worship team, stewards as well as many others. This policy provides guidelines for all volunteers.
We recognise the valuable contribution volunteers make to enable the vision and values of the church. Volunteers bring many new skills, knowledge and enthusiasm, adding a refreshing perspective to the work of North Plymouth Community Church.
We are seeking to develop good practices in volunteering in accordance with our vision & core values. We are keen that all volunteering roles contribute to fulfilling this vision and reflecting these values.
- Volunteer role profiles
All volunteers should have a role profile provided. At a minimum this will include a description of the sort of tasks the role includes, who is responsible for the role and how the role fits with church vision. It may also include an indication of the amount of time per week the role required to fulfil the role.
- Induction and training
Inductions in roles will be informal and undertaken by the role leader.
As a church, we want to ensure proper support is provided for volunteers to carry out their role. If specific training needs arise, volunteers should discuss these with their role leader and together they should seek to fulfil the requirement.
- Volunteers Expenses
Expenses can be claimed by volunteers for reasonable out of pocket costs incurred whilst fulfilling their role. These should be claimed via the person identified as the role leader in the role profile. For mileage costs, please contact the treasurer for current rates. All expenses should be claimed within 1 month of incurring them.
If the volunteer so wishes, he/she does not have to claim expenses and can choose to ‘gift’ the costs to the church. However, for those who incur regular expenses or large expenses, it is requested that they are claimed to assist with future budgeting. The expenses could then be gifted to the church once received if the volunteer so chooses.
The Church’s insurance policies provide protection for volunteers in respect of accident causing loss, damage or bodily injury due to negligence while engaged in a North Plymouth Community Church activity. The Public Liability cover provides cover for any one incident or series of incidents in respect of activities associated with the Church. These include youth activities, adult meetings, work parties, catering provision, social and welfare activities.
Use of a motor vehicle should be covered by a motor insurance policy for that vehicle, so if using your own vehicle you should make sure that your policy covers you during any activity.
- Child & Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy
All volunteers who work with children in whatever capacity must adhere to the North Plymouth Community Church Child & Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy.
All Children and Youth volunteers must complete a DBS check which will be paid for by North Plymouth Community Church.
- Role Leaders
It should be noted that often the role leader will themselves be a volunteer, and the relationships are designed to be two way and respectful. If at any time a volunteer has an issue with their role leader this should be discussed with one of the pastoral staff.
Vulnerable Beneficiaries Policy Statement
Updated August 2016
The Charity Commission in England & Wales has an important regulatory role in ensuring that trustees comply with their legal duties and responsibilities as trustees in managing and administering their charity. Their aim is to protect public confidence in the integrity of charities. In the context of safeguarding issues, they have a limited and very specific regulatory role which is focused on the conduct of the trustees and the steps they take to protect the charity and its beneficiaries now and in the future. Their remit often covers just one area of a much wider investigation involving or being led by other agencies.
Trustees of charities which work with vulnerable groups and children have a duty of care to their charity which will include taking the necessary steps to safeguard and take responsibility for those children and vulnerable adults.
Trustees must put systems in place to make the necessary checks to ensure individuals who are trustees, staff (including contractors) and volunteers are legally able to act in positions involving vulnerable beneficiaries.
Trustees are legally responsible for:
- Ensuring the risk to the charity’s current and future beneficiaries and services are being properly managed by the trustees;
- The protection of the charity’s assets, including its reputation; and
- Ensuring that they comply with their legal duties and responsibilities in the management and administration of the charity.
We are committed to creating a safer culture within the walls of the North Plymouth Community Church. As a Church we must demonstrate a duty of care to safeguard all children and vulnerable adults from harm. All children and vulnerable adults have a right to protection, and the needs of all people who may be particularly vulnerable (either permanently or temporarily) must be taken into account when considering their involvement in church life and the support that is offered to enable them to live fulfilling Christian lives.
The North Plymouth Community Church abides under the policies of the CCPAS. As a result, all our children’s workers are DBS checked. CCPAS (The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service) is the only independent Christian safeguarding charity which provides:
- 24 hour confidential helpline
- Safeguarding policies
- Professional training and advice
- Disclosure checks
- Breaking news updates
- Support and resources
Their staff exist to safeguard both children and vulnerable adults throughout the UK. They also work to help those throughout the UK who are, or have been, affected by child abuse and similar issues. For further information on safeguarding policies, procedures and practice guidance for leaders, staff and volunteers, please refer to the CCPAS website.
North Plymouth Community Church is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults engaged in the breadth of its activities.
The key objectives of our policy are:
- To explain the responsibilities its staff and volunteers have in respect of child and vulnerable adult protection.
- To provide members and volunteers with an overview of child and vulnerable adult protection.
- To provide a clear procedure that will be implemented where child and vulnerable adult protection issues arise.
The reporting of all safeguarding issues are dealt with in the North Plymouth Community Church ‘Safeguarding Children & Vulnerable Adults’ policy.
The Charity Commission have identified the following issues as being higher risk and must be reported:
- Significant financial loss to a charity;
- Serious harm to beneficiaries and, in particular, vulnerable beneficiaries;
- Misuse of a charity for terrorist purposes (including charity links with or support for terrorism, financial or otherwise, connections to proscribed organisations, misuse of a charity to foster criminal extremism);
- Serious criminality and/or illegal activity within or involving a charity (including fraud and money laundering);
- Charities set up for an illegal or improper purpose including the use of abusive tax arrangements;
- Charities deliberately being used for significant private advantage;
- Where a charity’s independence is seriously called into question; OR
- Other significant non-compliance, breaches of trust or abuse that otherwise impact significantly on public trust and confidence in the charity and charities generally.
In addition, trustees must report an incident if:
- The incident is also reported to the police or other statutory agencies (unless it is a technical or minor issue that poses little or no risk);
- The charity, or individuals associated with the charity and in connection with their role within it, are the subject of a police or other statutory agency investigation;
- We decide that the incident presents a serious or significant risk to the charity, its beneficiaries, reputation or assets;
- The internal risk assessment of the incident finds that the charity should act to avoid a serious or significant risk to the charity, its beneficiaries, reputation, services or assets; OR
- Our professional advisers have advised us to notify the Charity Commission of the incident.