Complaints Policy & Procedure


Waterbrook Church CIO (Waterbrook) is a charitable organisation operating as a church which strives to honour God in all its conduct, collectively and individually through members of the church. Waterbrook seeks to maintain the highest standards (ethical and otherwise) in all its conduct and affairs. Accordingly, Waterbrook takes any complaint seriously and seeks to give them the appropriate process and attention.

This policy sets out the procedures to be followed when a complaint is received from users (or former users) of the “services” of Waterbrook.

At present Waterbrook could be said to provide the following “services”:

Serving the congregation and the wider community acting as a church with teaching, worship, fellowship, sharing and children’s ministry to which visitors are welcome.
Services to the community-seniors’ events, treasure hunts, holiday clubs and activity days.
As part of the above food and drink may be provided.

The procedure as set out below is for the person directly involved in overseeing the aspect of ministry to seek to resolve any disputes in a courteous and helpful way before the issue becomes a formal complaint. They are strongly advised always to seek a companion to sit alongside them in listening to and responding to any dispute. Disputes and complaints are likely to be a dissatisfaction with the delivery of the “services” listed above or the way in which a member of any of Waterbrook teams have behaved in the delivery of the services. The church leader should be informed of any such matters and how they have been dealt with.

If the matter cannot be resolved then rather than let it fester it becomes a complaint and the complainant should be encouraged to speak to a member of the pastoral team or a church trustee (who should inform the church leader straight away) or directly to the church leader. If the complaint is against the church leader or his spouse, then this should be referred to the chair of trustees. If it a serious matter of misconduct or major concern over doctrine this should also be referred by the church leader or the chair of trustees to Rob Scott-Cook who provides the Waterbrook leadership with a spiritual oversight.

When a complaint is received the following procedures should be adopted. The church leader will decide which pastoral team member or trustee should oversee the handling of the complaint. If the church leader in discussion with the chair of trustees considers the matter to be serious, the matter should be referred to lawyers and all the trustees notified immediately. The advice of the lawyers will then be followed in handling the complaint. It is likely that the Charity Commission will also need to be notified. The trustees are to keep a register of all complaints. Any matter involving children or vulnerable adults should involve immediate consultation with the safeguarding officer and the safeguarding team and the CIO’s safeguarding policy should be strictly adhered to.

Preliminary Stage – The complainant may make a verbal complaint to the team member overseeing the area of ministry who will seek to resolve the complaint. The team member should record the conversation/correspondence and it should be shown to the church leader. Where the complainant remains dissatisfied then stage 1 will be implemented

Stage 1 – The complainant should be invited to speak to whichever the member of the pastoral team or a trustee that the church leader advises. This can be done by telephone or meeting and the pastoral team member should keep a record of the conversation and endeavour to resolve the matter, keeping the church leader informed. These notes may be used at future meetings.
Stage 1 should be completed within a week of receiving a complaint.

If the complainant remains dissatisfied, then refer to stage 2 below.

Stage 2 – The complainant should be asked to put their complaint in writing to the church leader marked ‘Private & Confidential’ providing as much detail as possible. The church leader will delegate a pastoral team member or trustee to investigate the complaint and attempt to resolve it.

If the complaint involves a Waterbrook church member then this member should be offered the opportunity to put forward their account either in person or by written statement. The complainant will receive a letter summarising the investigations that have been carried out and what action if any is proposed to resolve the matter.

Stage 2 should be completed within 10 working days of the complaint being put in writing.

Stage 3 – Where the matter is not resolved by stage 2 the pastoral team member or trustee should immediately refer the complaint to the church leader who will review the decision made at stage 2 and may seek further clarification from any of the parties involved. The church leader will take advice from chair of trustees and then notify the complainant of a decision within 20 working days of the reference of the complaint at stage 3 which will be deemed final from the perspective of Waterbrook.

Adopted October 2023.