What do you need to do if you have a complaint?

At the AAT we are committed to working to a high professional standard and maintaining positive working relationships with our supporters, donors, volunteers and members of the public. However, sometimes things can go wrong, and mistakes can get made.  

If you have a complaint, please take the time to tell us about it. If we are not getting something right, it is important to us that we know about it, so we can improve. 

What do we aim to achieve?

We will always aim, to 

  • provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy to use 
  • publicise our complaints procedure so that you know how to make a complaint 
  • make sure that all complaints are responded to in a timely manner 
  • make sure that all serious complaints are investigated in a timely way 
  • ensure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired and 
  • gather information which helps us to improve what we do. 

What can you expect from us?

You can expect that we will:

  • treat your complaint seriously and respond within target timeframes set out below
  • treat you with courtesy and fairness in your dealings with us at all times
  • handle your complaint with sensitivity and discretion.

What things can you complain about?

Here are some examples of things you may wish to complain about should the need arise:

  • If you are unhappy with the standard of any service provided by the AAT 
  • If the AAT has failed to do something it should have done 
  • If the AAT has done something badly 
  • If the AAT’s staff, Trustees or volunteers have been unhelpful or have treated someone unfairly 
  • If the AAT hasn’t followed its own policies, rules or procedures correctly 
  • If the AAT hasn’t followed required regulations or standards. 

If you have the evidence of an illegal activity taking place or that people or property are at risk of harm, this is an emergency situation. Please contact the relevant emergency service – police, fire service or ambulance – by phoning 999. Then, contact the AAT as soon as possible.

We would appreciate it if you did not use the complaints process to make a general enquiry, to request a service, report a fault or to ask for an explanation of a situation. A phone call to us will probably help you with this kind of general enquiry.

How do you make a complaint?

The first step is to contact the AAT and ask to speak to the person concerned. If you would prefer not to use the phone, you can get in touch in other ways.

What information do we need?

For all complaints, we will require some information from you. This will include the following:

  • The date of the situation that you are complaining about 
  • The nature of your complaint 
  • The reason you are complaining 
  • Any other information that may help us to investigate the complaint, for example, details of any other people involved in the situation or who witnessed it 
  • The best way to contact you. 

    Will your details be kept confidential?

    We will take every reasonable step to keep your identity confidential. However, in order to investigate and respond to a complaint appropriately, it helps to know the full information. The appropriate individual at the AAT responsible for dealing with the complaint will decide who receives this information. Those individuals will be required to keep the details confidential. If our employee treats this information inappropriately and this leads to a breach of confidentiality, they may face disciplinary action. 

    What happens next?

    The AAT will investigate all serious complaints, if received within 1 month of the situation that triggered the complaint.

    Your complaint will be recorded in writing, to make sure that it is followed up, and acknowledged as far as possible within 48 hours.

    Some complaints can be dealt with very quickly, without the need for a formal investigation. If this is possible, the AAT will do so. You will receive a letter and our response within 10 working days. If you are not happy with our response, you can refer your complaint directly to the Chief Executive Officer.

    If your complaint needs to be investigated

    More serious complaints may need to be investigated. As part of the investigation, it may be necessary to talk to other individuals, e.g. members of the public who may have further information.

    If a complaint is about our employee, a meeting will be held with that individual. If external parties were involved, they will also have an opportunity to attend this meeting and supply evidence.

    Within 15 working days, we will write to you, informing you about the results of the investigation. If there is a difficulty with the investigation, or employee disciplinary action has to be taken before the investigation can be completed, you will receive a letter explaining the situation. These may have to be dealt with before the investigation into your complaint can continue.

    If your complaint has highlighted changes that need to be made to the way we work, the AAT will take the necessary steps to make suitable changes.

    If your complaint is about our fundraising activities, you have eight weeks to refer your complaint to the Fundraising Regulator. The Fundraising Regulator will review your complaint and advise you within four weeks whether any action will be taken.

    What happens if you're unhappy with the result of your investigation?

    If you are unhappy with the results of our investigation, you have one month to write to the Chair of the Board of Trustees, asking them to review your complaint. You will receive a response within 15 working days, providing you with the final decision.

    If you remain unhappy after these steps have been taken, you can refer your complaint to the Charity Commission. This organisation regulates charities in England & Wales. You will need to provide them with our charity registration number, which is 1107539.