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Complaints Policy


At Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) we welcome feedback on all aspects of our work. We are a learning organisation and use feedback and complaints to inform our development. We will try to resolve all informal complaints as we receive them. A very small percentage of the feedback we receive needs to be dealt with as a formal complaint. We have a complaints policy to ensure we deal with informal and formal complaints effectively. This page provides support and guidance. 

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with any aspect of our operation (programme, staff, communications, systems and processes), whether deemed justified or not by our organisation, from a member of the public who is not a YEF employee[1].

Legal actions or letters informing us of an imminent legal action will not follow our formal complaint process. They will be directed to Chief Operations Officer for a swift and complaint resolution. In addition, if – during a complaint -the complainant mentions legal action, the complaint will be automatically treated as a formal complaint per the process outlined below so the Chief Operations Officer will be engaged. In these instances, the Chief Operations Officer will engage with its parent company, Impetus, in managing the response. 

The YEF Complaints Policy should not be used when reporting on a serious incident. Please refer to the YEF Serious Incident Policy when reporting on a serious incident. We encourage anyone who has something to report to utilise the Serious Incident Policy when a serious incident is experienced or observed related to YEF activity.

A serious incident is an adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant:

  • harm to an organisation’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with the organisation through its work (who are collectively referred to throughout this guidance as people who come into contact with the organisation through its work) 
  • loss of an organisation’s money or assets 
  • damage to an organisation’s property 
  • harm to an organisation’s work or reputation 

For the purposes of this guidance, “significant” means significant in the context of the organisation in question, taking account of its staff, operations, finances and/or reputation. For the avoidance of doubt, significant also refers to any incident that may involve the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults or that may violate the Modern Slavery Act 2015.


Complaints will usually be considered if the report is made within six months of the incident or issue’s occurrence. Where the complainant did not find out about the issue or incident until sometime after, the deadline will be based on when they became aware of the issue or when it was reasonable to expect them to be aware of the issue. If deemed reasonable with the reason for the delay, this can be extended to 12 months at our discretion. 

Non-formal complaints 

Expressions of dissatisfaction that can be solved at the point when they are made, or that do not need an immediate solution but are expressions of unhappiness about YEF, are deemed non-formal complaints. These types of complaints may include general feedback, issues raised and service requests. We encourage you to make these types of non-formal complaints directly with your main point of contact at YEF or through our contact information available on our website

Formal complaints 

Something is designated to be a formal complaint if one of the following applies: 

  • It cannot be resolved at the time by the member of staff who was initially notified of the concern, to the complainant’s satisfaction. 
  • Initial attempts to resolve the complaint are not to the complainant’s satisfaction. 
  • It is not considered a serious incident, but still deemed of sufficient seriousness to be escalated directly through our formal complaints process below. 

Our approach to complaints 

When dealing with complaints, either non-formal or formal, we will: 

  • Treat each complaint seriously. 
  • Review the complaint from the complainant’s point of view, and always ask how we would feel if this had been our experience. 
  • Investigate each complaint thoroughly and using appropriate evidence, including looking at each issue raised in the complaint and addressing each issue in turn in our response. 
  • Be humble and open to the complaint received; we will not approach the complaint in a defensive way or assume that we know the problem and the answer. 
  • Be honest and fair in our assessment of the complaint. 
  • Apologise where we have made a mistake or got something wrong. 
  • Make any changes where appropriate to correct the complaint or to ensure the problem does not reoccur. 
  • Make recommendations for improvements to feed into departmental or other reviews. 
  • Share only the appropriate level of detail regarding each complaint, and only with relevant members of staff, so that it is handled effectively and in accordance with our data protection policy. 

How to make a formal complaint 

Formal complaints will be handled through our formal procedure where: 

  • A complaint is received in writing via
    •  by letter
    • by email to any member of our staff, where it is clearly stated that the complainant would like to make a formal complaint .  
  • A complainant may request that their formal complaint be received by phone call, if putting the complaint in writing would cause further aggravation.

The complaints will be forwarded to the Chief Operations Officer, who will assess and follow the informal or formal complaint process in the appropriate manner. In some instances, they may delegate the process to another individual able to serve as responsible.

How we deal with formal complaints 

On receipt of a formal complaint the person responsible will: 

  • Ensure the complaint is acknowledged.
  • Assess the level of the complaint and inform the relevant YEF Directors as needed. In some cases, the Executive Director may be informed immediately based upon the severity or risk level of the complaint. 
  • Where some or all of the complaint raises any safeguarding issues, the YEF Safeguarding Policy takes precedence, and the complaint will be managed through this policy as appropriate. 
  • Where some or all of the complaint is deemed to be a Serious Incident, the YEF Serious Incident Policy takes precedence, and the complaint will be managed through this policy as appropriate.
  • The person responsible, working with relevant Directors, will develop a process for investigating and responding to your complaint, including who will lead the process within YEF, depending on its type and nature. If required, this may include engaging legal or other expertise to inform the process.

The person responsible will respond to you with information on the process that the YEF plans to take in responding to your formal complaint. Once a complaint investigation is complete, the person leading the process of responding to your complaint will develop a final, written response of the outcome of the investigation, which will be stored securely at YEF. The written response is reviewed and approved by the YEF Executive Director. You are entitled to request a summary of the outcome determined by YEF. When the person responsible responds to you with information on the process to be taken, they will confirm with you if you would like to be updated on the outcome of the investigation.

Wherever possible, YEF will strive to respond to you with information on the process to be taken within 30 days of receiving your complaint.

Sensitive ‘in-confidence’ complaints 

The nature of some complaints may be very sensitive. It is likely that the Executive, Directors or Directors will handle these complaints in confidence. Anyone receiving a complaint directly that they feel should be treated as ‘sensitive in confidence’ should consult the Chief Operations Officer or Executive Director, depending on the nature of the complaint, in the first instance for guidance. 


In certain cases, complainants may ask for the decision to be reviewed. In these cases, the request should be submitted in writing to the person responsible for managing the complaint, setting out the reasons why the decision should be reviewed. The request for a review must be submitted no more than 28 days after the original decision. The review of the complaint will not be conducted by the person responsible for managing the original process, and must be reviewed by one of the Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director, or Chair of the YEF Committee, determined by who is most appropriate to do so. The relevant Director may support the review where the appeal relates to how the original complaint has been managed and if appropriate. Appeals will be handled to the following timeline: 

  • Acknowledgement within two working days of receipt of appeal
  • Final response complete within 30 working days of receipt of appeal

We will not consider an appeal of any complaints which are substantially the same as one that has previously been dealt with under this complaints procedure. 


The Youth Endowment Fund Complaints Policy will be reviewed annually. The latest version will always be made available here.

Version number: 2.0

Policy approved by: Chief Operations Officer

Policy next due for review: June 2023

[1] For YEF employees, complaints should be directed to the HR department for swift and fair investigation. YEF employees should refer to the organisation’s Grievance Policy.