COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE FOR CO-MISSION AND
THE CO-MISSION INITIATIVE TRUST
As a Christian organisation, we consider this to be a highly important procedure. However, we also hope it will seldom be required. Before raising a formal concern through this procedure, we would expect and encourage you to seek resolution informally. Therefore, in the first instance, please contact the member of Co-Mission staff involved and provide them with the opportunity to resolve your concerns. You may also wish to contact either Matthew Dalton (COO of Co-Mission) or Richard Coekin (CEO of Co-Mission) to explain your concerns before making a formal complaint.
1. COMPLAINTS AGAINST CO-MISSION PASTORS AND CHURCH STAFF
1.1 Co-Mission is an increasingly diverse church-planting network that God has been growing since 2005, united by Christ’s compassion for the people of London and committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Approximately 30 churches spread throughout London are part of this network and details of these churches can be found at co-mission.org/our-churches. Whilst these churches are often referred to as “the churches of Co-Mission”, because they have either been planted with support from Co-Mission or have joined the network because they want to be part of our mission to London, they are all (legally speaking) independent churches, each governed by their own local leadership teams, and each operating through their own legal entities or as part of established denominations.
1.2 Whilst Co-Mission seeks to support and strengthen all of the churches within its network, Co-Mission is a voluntary fellowship of local churches and, in principle and in practice, Co-Mission respects the autonomy of the local church and does not have, or seek to exercise or assume, any control over or legal responsibility for, any church in the network. Therefore, if you have any concerns or complaints relating to the staff or ministries of any of the churches of Co-Mission, you should not follow this Complaints procedure. Rather, you should follow the steps set out in the separate complaints policy (or, where appropriate, safeguarding policy) relating to the particular church involved. Generally, you will find each church’s complaints policy and safeguarding policy on their website, but if you cannot locate them, you should request a copy from the church’s administrator or senior pastor.
1.3 If you have made a complaint against any Co-Mission church in accordance with that church’s own complaints policy, then Co-Mission will generally have no involvement in that complaint and the complaint will be dealt with by the church’s leadership team in accordance with their complaints policy.
1.4 If you are unhappy with the way your complaint has been handled by the church involved, then you should address your concerns with the person responsible for the church’s complaints process. If having done so, you feel that your concerns have still not been addressed, then you may contact the Chief Operating Officer of Co-Mission (“the COO”) (firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide him with details of your ongoing concerns. On behalf of Co-Mission, the COO will then contact the church involved and ask them to confirm that the complaint has been properly handled by the church in accordance with its complaints policy. If the church cannot provide such confirmation, then the COO will encourage the church to make further contact with you and to make further efforts to resolve your complaint in accordance with its complaints policy and Co-Mission’s involvement will be terminated. However, if the church confirms that it has properly handled your complaint, then the COO will report back to you and inform you that no further action can be taken by Co-Mission.
1.5 Co-Mission has no legal basis to review any decisions made by any church in accordance with that church’s complaints policy.
2. COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE CO-MISSION LEADERSHIP AND STAFF
2.1 Co-Mission employs a number of staff through its charity, The Co-Mission Initiative Trust (“CMIT”), and also relies upon the work (paid or unpaid) of a number of others who serve as part of the Co-Mission Steering Group, the Co-Mission Executive, the Co-Mission Resources Team and as trustees of CMIT (all of whom, together, are referred to in this policy as “Co-Mission staff”). Co-Mission is committed to conducting Christian ministry with honesty and integrity. We are therefore careful in our recruitment and training and expect all Co-Mission staff to maintain high standards. On very rare occasions, the conduct of Co-Mission staff may fall short of this expectation.
(a) In the first instance, and for less serious matters of misconduct, we would expect and encourage those adversely affected, to speak directly with the member of Co-Mission staff involved and they should be provided with the opportunity to resolve any concerns on an informal basis. Unresolved concerns may then be taken to the COO (email@example.com) or to the CEO of Co-Mission (firstname.lastname@example.org) as preferred. In the vast majority of situations, we hope concerns will be fully resolved at this stage, perhaps by staff providing further clarification or explanation, or by apologising and making amends. Where concerns are satisfactorily dealt with by the Co-Mission staff involved, the following procedure will not usually be required.
(b) Where concerns are not dealt with satisfactorily by the Co-Mission staff involved, or are of such a serious nature that further contact with those staff would be inappropriate or potentially harmful, the following procedure should be followed.
2.2 This procedure may be used by anyone who wishes to complain about the conduct of any of the Co-Mission staff (as defined in section 2.1 above).
2.3 This procedure should not be used by CMIT employees. If any CMIT employee wishes to complain about the conduct of another employee, they should use the Grievance Procedure as set out in the CMIT Staff Handbook.
2.4 This procedure should not be used where there is a safeguarding concern involving the Co-Mission staff. In such instances, the concerns should be reported in accordance with the CMIT Safeguarding Policy. If there is uncertainty as to whether something constitutes a safeguarding concern, Stephen Hatherall should be contacted in the first instance: email@example.com.
2.5 Concerns should be reported as soon as possible so that they can be investigated promptly. We will always investigate such reports.
2.6 If you have any questions about this process please contact the COO by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 020 8543 4411.
3. HOW TO RAISE A CONCERN
3.1 This procedure should be used to report complaints about any of the Co-Mission staff. We take all complaints extremely seriously. Examples (not exhaustive) of where it would be appropriate to use this procedure are: bullying behaviour, coercion, manipulation, dishonesty, inappropriate sexual behaviour, criminal activity, and bribery.
3.2 Complaints should be submitted in writing (by post or email) to Matthew Dalton, Co-Mission, 577 Kingston Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8SA or email@example.com and you should clearly state that you want your complaint handled under the Complaints Procedure.
3.3 The complaint should set out:
(a) Your contact details
(b) Details of your involvement with Co-Mission and its ministries and/or events;
(c) A brief description of the nature of your complaint, including any relevant facts, dates, and names of individuals involved. In some situations, you may be asked to provide further information
3.4 We will aim to acknowledge receipt of your written complaint within 14 days of receipt.
4.1 All complaints submitted under this procedure will be handled sensitively. We hope that you will feel able to voice concerns openly under this policy. Completely anonymous disclosures are difficult to investigate. If you want to raise your concern confidentially, we will make every effort to keep your identity secret and only reveal it where necessary to those involved in investigating your concern. Please notify us if you wish your concerns to be investigated confidentially in this way.
5.1 All complaints and concerns raised under this procedure will be taken seriously and they will all be investigated, as long as you provide us with your contact details so that we can request further information from you (where necessary) and so that we can send you the outcome of the investigation. The amount of any investigation required will depend on the nature of the allegations and will vary from case to case. You will usually be invited to a meeting to discuss the nature of your complaint and the person being complained against will be excluded from that meeting unless all parties consent to their attendance.
5.2 You will be expected to co-operate fully and promptly in any investigation. This may include informing us of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents to us and attending interviews, as part of our investigation.
5.3 Following an assessment of the facts, a decision will be taken as to whether the matter can be dealt with internally or whether it is necessary to refer the matter to a third party for investigation, such as to an independent Christian organisation, the local authority or the police.
6. THE OUTCOME
6.1 We will endeavour to resolve your complaint as promptly as we can, but if it gives rise to serious issues we may need to take time in order to conduct a thorough investigation.
6.2 You will be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation as soon as possible.
7.1 If the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction you may request a review of the decision.
7.2 Requests for a review should be submitted in writing to Matthew Dalton (see contact details above) within 14 days of the date on which the outcome of the investigation was sent or given to you.
7.3 The review will be dealt with impartially by a member of Co-Mission staff (usually a senior employee or trustee) not involved in the previous investigation where possible (although they may ask anyone previously involved to contribute to their review of the previous decision).
7.4 We will confirm our final decision in writing, usually within four weeks of your submission of your request for a review. This is the end of the procedure and there is no further right of review.
This complaints procedure was published on 23rd October 2020