Comments and complaints

Thirtyone:eight are a learning organisation and committed to providing high quality services. We use all the feedback we receive to improve and develop our services and take any comments, concerns and complaints we receive seriously. If you are not satisfied with the service you have received, or simply wish to make a comment, please see the information below:

Our aims:

  • to provide a fair procedure which is clear and easy to use
  • to be open about how we will deal with complaints
  • to ensure that all complaints are investigated and/or responded to in a fair and timely way
  • to resolve complaints as near to the point of service delivery wherever possible
  • to gather information in order to improve our service


For the purpose of these procedures, a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about any aspect of the services provided to you directly. The complaints procedure may be accessed by any person who has directly received a service from us. It may not be accessed by third parties with whom there has been no legitimate connection for the provision of services (i.e. complaints can only be brought by the person directly receiving a service about which they are dissatisfied).

Examples of those eligible to make a complaint would be individuals or organisations who have called our helplines, commissioned us to provide a specific consultancy assignment or undertake a piece of research or attended our training. Third parties (i.e. those who have not commissioned or directly requested a service that has been provided) are therefore not eligible to make a complaint, but may of course choose to comment upon our services if they wish. Comments will always be acknowledged and considered, but will not be a part of the formal complaints resolution process detailed below.

All comments and complaints information will be handled sensitively and stored securely, sharing information on a ‘need to know’ basis and in accordance with our Data Protection Policy.

Dealing with Comments and Informal Resolution

In most cases, issues are best resolved by the person responsible for the matter that is causing concern. If such a comment or concern has been received by that person, we expect that all reasonable efforts will have been made to respond and resolve it swiftly if possible and appropriate (informal resolution).

Formal Complaints Procedure

However, we appreciate that informal resolution isn’t always possible or appropriate and therefore we have the following three stage process in order to deal with all matters that are eligible to be dealt with through our formal complaints procedure:

Step One

Initially, the complaint should be made to the line manager of the person who is subject to the complaint (or if the complaint is regarding general service provision rather than the actions of an individual, then the complaint should be made to the Head of Department for the service provided). The complainant should make contact with our Head Office via details below. The complaint will be acknowledged and responded to within two working weeks (i.e. 10 working days) and a copy of this Representation & Complaints Policy and Procedure will be supplied.

If the complaint is about a Head of Department then it should be addressed to the Chief Executive.  If it is about our Chief Executive, or a trustee, then the complaint should be addressed to the Chair of Trustees who will appoint someone to undertake an investigation. Appeals would in both these instances progress to stage three of this process.

Within this 10 day timescale, the line manager/Head of Department/Chief Executive/Chair of Trustees (or his nominee) will investigate the matter as follows:

  • make all necessary and appropriate enquiries to establish the substance of the complaint and any attempts already made to resolve the matter informally, ensuring that all attempts at informal resolution have already been made
  • form a view and decide who the best person to respond to the complaint would be
  • where necessary, initiate discussions or meetings with the complainant to fully understand their issue, seek clarity and be clear on what would constitute a resolution for them
  • arrange any necessary mediation between the parties and any necessary, subsequent action(s)

It is hoped that an acceptable resolution can be found and the complaint can be concluded to the complainant’s satisfaction at this level. However if this is not the case, the complainant must inform the investigator within 2 working weeks (i.e. 10 working days) of their desire to initiate stage two, which will be progressed as follows:

Step Two

At stage two, the details of the complaint and actions taken at stage one will be passed to the Chief Executive who will:

  • acknowledge receipt of the stage two complaint and that they are reviewing details within one working week (i.e. 5 working days)
  • make it clear when a response can be expected. The aim will be for complainants to receive a definitive reply within four working weeks (i.e. 20 working days). If this is not possible because, for example, an investigation has not been fully completed or a statutory holiday falls within the timescale, a further communication will be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given.
  • review all documentation and the actions taken so far and discuss with the complainant the situation from their perspective and why resolution could not be reached. All conversations will be confirmed in writing and shared with the complainant
  • discuss the same with the line manager/Head of Department and consider what, within the framework of our policy and if necessary, the law, could be a way forward to resolve the issue at hand
  • where necessary, take advice from the Board of Trustees in order to formulate a response for the complainant and any necessary action

The reply (within 20 working days where possible) to the complainant will inform them of the action(s) taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint.

Again, hopefully the complaint can be resolved at this level, but if not then the complainant must notify the Chief Executive within 2 working weeks (i.e. 10 working days) of their desire to move to stage three, which will be progressed as follows:

Step Three - Appeal

If the complainant remains unsatisfied after the stage two process has been completed (or stage one in the case of complaints against a Chief Executive or trustee), they have the right to request an appeal to the Board of Trustees, who will convene an appeals panel (who will not have been involved in any previous stage) to hear the complaint at stage three.  Once the request has been received to progress to stage three, we will acknowledge the request for appeal within two working weeks (i.e. 10 working days). The process undertaken at stages one and two will be reviewed and the Appeal Chair may choose to talk to the parties concerned to gain clarification on the issues.

A final decision and any action deemed necessary will be communicated to the complainant within six working weeks (i.e. 30 working days). If for any reason this timescale cannot be met, the complaint will be advised of the need for a revised timescale needed as soon as practicably possible.

Monitoring and learning from complaints

The number and outcome of any complaints will be reported to the Board of Trustees periodically to help identify any trends which may indicate a need to take further action.

Please submit your complaint using the webform below or write to us marking your letter as Confidential to: Thirtyone:eight, PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7UQ or to speak to someone call 0303 003 1111.


Make a comment or complaint

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