I have a complaint – what can I do?
While we hope you will never have to cause to complain, sadly, sometimes things do go wrong. The Diocese of Bristol views complaints as an opportunity to put things right, learn and to make improvements for the future.
What you should do and who you should contact, will depend upon the circumstances of your concern and who or what you want to complain about.
Our policy in the Diocese of Bristol is to:
What is a complaint?
For the purpose of this policy and related procedures, a complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, about any aspect of the conduct or behaviour of the clergy, lay ministers, church officers, Diocesan Support Services staff or other employees of the Bristol Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) or Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust (DBAT) in the Diocese of Bristol.
The aim should be to resolve complaints or grievances where possible (excepting those related to the harm or abuse of children and vulnerable adults where the formal safeguarding procedures must be used) informally, locally, speedily and fairly by discussion, problem solving, mediation and negotiation.
Problems should therefore be brought directly to the person(s) deemed responsible for the area of dissatisfaction or disquiet, and will hopefully be resolved in this way.
If however, after this problem-solving stage, resolution has not been reached, more formal action may be needed.
Where can complaints come from?
Complaints may come from any person or organisation which has a legitimate interest in the conduct of the person whose conduct is being complained about. Complaints are best made in writing.
Who or what do you want to complain about?
1. Diocesan Support Services, its employees and other DBF employees
The DBF’s Complaint procedure is available to download.
There is a separate complaints procedure that relates to complaints about the Diocese’s Safeguarding service which can be found here.
2. Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust Schools/Employees
The separate DBAT complaints policy is at dbat.org.uk/policies/
3. Problems with churchyards or monuments
Contact your local Parish Office or Vicar in the first instance.
Their addresses and other contact details should be on your church website.
4. Disagreements within the church or congregation about church life/worship
Complaints about church officers, contracts or lettings
Contact your local Vicar or Parochial Church Council (PCC).
Contact details should be on church website and/or notice board.
5. Complaints about Clergy or other Licensed Ministers
High standards of integrity and service are expected of our all our clergy and ministers, but sometimes they can fall short of what is expected.
In most cases it is best to share any disappointment with the member of clergy or other minister concerned, and to try and resolve it together.
If that proves insufficient, you may then wish to bring your concern:
– about clergy, to the attention of the Archdeacon or Bishop’s office;
– about a non-ordained/licensed lay minister, to their Vicar, or the Warden of Readers (email@example.com).
6. Speaking out (“whistleblowing”)
If any current or recent employees of the DBF (left the DBF within a three month period); agency staff; staff seconded to work in the DBF; students on placement; other learners; volunteers or sub-contracted staff have any concerns with the DBF that they believe to be true and in the “public interest” then they should consult the DBF Speaking out policy.
“In the public interest” has a number of definitions but broadly means anything affecting the health, the rights or the finances of the public at large (for example public safety or suspected fraud).
You can download the Speaking out policy here.