Adopted by the Board on 11th May 2022.
This is the process for dealing with complaints and appeals to try to find a resolution that is fair for the complainant and Freegle. We aim to ensure that issues are dealt with calmly, courteously and as quickly as possible.
Complaints and appeals can be raised by:
- Freegle members in relation to issues about their Freegle local community or who wish to appeal a decision or practice of Freegle.
- Freegle Volunteers or ex-Freegle Volunteers who are unhappy about a Freegle local community or national group or team decision, practice or situation.
- Elected and appointed national role holders who are unhappy about situations relating to their role or who wish to appeal a decision or practice of their fellow role team members.
- Appeals from community owners, moderators or volunteers whose community has been refused affiliation or removed from affiliation with Freegle.
- Issues relating to the Freegle Equality and Diversity Policy.
Concerns should initially be raised with the person or people that are directly involved with the issue that is causing a problem. All parties involved in this should offer a view of what would be a realistic resolution. It is hoped that most problems can be resolved at this point.
If it has proved impossible to gain a resolution after following Step 1 above, the complainant should contact the Freegle mailbox - email@example.com - outlining the problem. The mailbox is manned by at least two volunteers and they will help with the issues directly if appropriate. For problems raised by members about a local community, the local community volunteers will be given the priority to deal fully with any complaints. If appropriate, the mailbox will seek permission from the person complaining before their email is shared with the local team.
If it is considered that a resolution cannot be agreed at this stage, the complainant can escalate their complaint to Step 3 if appropriate. The timescale for this step is a response within 48 hours and resolution or escalation to Step 3 within a week.
The mailbox team will send the details of the case to the Ombudsman. There are two people in this role, who work with impartiality to review complaints and appeals, looking at whether a team/group/volunteer has followed policy and/or if they are bringing Freegle into disrepute. The Ombudsman will suggest resolutions and decide outcomes if required, and make recommendations to the Board for a change in policy or other action if necessary. Their decisions are final. In exceptional circumstances, the Ombudsman team can refer to the Advisory Panel if they feel that is necessary. Further details on this can be found at Advisory Panel Procedure..
The timescale for this step is a response within 48 hours, with the aim for resolution or decision within 4 weeks.
The Freegle Mailbox team and Ombudsman will ensure that the person or panel/service members dealing with a complaint at any step have no conflict of interest in the case.
It is important to distinguish between people who make a number of complaints because they really think things have gone wrong, and people who are being difficult. Complainants can be frustrated and aggrieved and it is therefore important to consider the merits of the case rather than their attitude. Even though someone has made repeated complaints in the past, it cannot be assumed that their next complaint is not genuine.Each complaint should be individually evaluated.