Most organisations, large and small, attract both praise for the work or service that they provide, and from time to time, complaints. Receiving praise is pleasurable and enjoyable. We always like to know when things have gone well. On the other hand most of us do not like to receive complaints. It is the mark of an organisation that wants to be proactive, that organises itself to deal with issues and concerns.
For some time now the Diocese has been thinking about developing a complaints procedure which will ensure that we deal with concerns in a consistent way. In essence key features of this new procedure includes:-
A fair and just approach
An aim to find a solution locally rather than centrally and informally rather than formally
The full details can be found below.
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Already some PCCs have spelt out how complaints issues can be dealt with in a parish. I would commend this approach as it assists PCCs in being clear about how they aim to settle matters that might arise.
I hope that this new procedure will help us all to find an appropriate way in dealing with local concerns.
Diocese of Lincoln and Lincoln Cathedral
Dealing with Complaints
The Diocese of Lincoln and Lincoln Cathedral recognise that from time to time complaints will arise. Our aim is to have a process that is simple to use and understand.
The process is based on the following:
There should be no difference in the principles that apply to the approach between clergy, readers, authorised lay ministers, lay people or paid officials
The process should be fair and just
Help and support should be offered to those making the complaint and those subject to the complaint
Confidentiality must be respected
Where it is appropriate, the possibility of reconciliation should be explored,
There should be the possibility of correcting any errors which may be made
Wherever possible the aim is to resolve complaints locally rather than centrally and informally rather than formally
If other complaints processes apply, for example bullying and harassment or allegations that may be considered under the Clergy Discipline Measure, the person complaining will be directed and helped to access them.
1. The informal local approach:
Think about what would resolve your concern • Consider sharing your complaint with the person concerned if this is appropriate
Ask a friend to support you
If you need further assistance in taking your complaint forward, if you are not satisfied, if you would like the matter independently reviewed or there is a need for independent reconciliation, ask the priest in charge, a churchwarden or a member of the PCC
• Most matters can and should be resolved informally and locally.
2. The formal approach:
Matters of serious concern1 should be referred to the Bishop’s Chaplain or Cathedral Chapter Clerk in writing
You should expect an acknowledgement within 10 working days • In the first instance it will be for the Bishop’s Chaplain or Cathedral Chapter Clerk to decide whether this is a matter that might be better considered locally or,
The Bishop’s Chaplain or Cathedral Chapter Clerk will suggest an approach which may require an independent review of a local decision, further reconciliation or progress to one of the specialist formal complaints processes.
It should be recognised that in some instances people will take positions where the matter cannot be resolved. However the aim should be to ensure that the process respects those involved and is just in providing an active concern to those who are vulnerable, marginalised or oppressed.
The Bishop of Lincoln’s Chaplain
The Old Palace, Minster Yard, Lincoln LN2 1PU
The Chapter Clerk and Administrator
Jackie Croft, The Chapter Office, 4 Priorygate,Lincoln,LN2 1PL
1 - Matters of professional misconduct of the clergy, readers or lay ministers or safeguarding matters should always be referred to The Bishop’s Chaplain or the Cathedral Chapter Clerk.