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Our complaints policy

What is a complaint?

People comment about our work all the time and we take any expression of dissatisfaction or negative feedback very seriously. But just because someone wants to comment it does not mean they wish to complain. Unless someone says they want to specifically complain, we expect our staff and volunteers to use their best judgement on how best to respond to comments and feedback.

If you do want to complain and follow the procedure below, please make it clear that you wish to do so. That will ensure a member of staff or volunteer will recognise the issue, situation or circumstances should be logged and handled as a complaint.

Who can complain and about what?

Anyone can complain about any Shelter issue, situation or circumstances. This usually includes people who use our shops or services directly, staff of agencies that seek advice, third parties such as council officers or landlords, people in response to a policy initiative or campaign and fundraising or social media activity.

How do I make a complaint?

We are available to take a complaint where, when and how you choose to do so. There is no set format for making a complaint. It is not necessary for you to call a specific number, put a complaint in writing or fill in a particular form.

Any of our staff or volunteers can take your complaint. If you would prefer, ask to speak to a manager and we will arrange for one to speak to you as soon as possible. You can also complain through social media or by contacting our Supporter Helpdesk on 0300 330 1234 or

Who will deal with my complaint?

This depends entirely on who or what your complaint is about. Most complaints are dealt with by someone from the service you are complaining about. If your complaint is about a manager then a different or more senior manager will handle your complaint.

How quickly will you deal with my complaint?

At each stage, we aim to acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days and aim to respond in full within 15 working days. If this is not possible, we will provide you with an update and seek to agree a revised timescale.

However, we will always try and resolve your complaint in the first instance with no need for further acknowledgement or response.

What response can I expect?

An acknowledgement may be a letter, email or telephone call and will outline the following:

  • confirmation that we have received your complaint

  • an outline of what will happen next

  • contact details of the person dealing with your complaint

A written response will be sent after the person handling your complaint has completed any investigation and considerations. If you would prefer a telephone response, this can be arranged directly with the person dealing with the complaint. The response will set out our findings in relation to your complaint and, where relevant, how we intend to remedy the complaint.

What if I am not satisfied with the response to my complaint?

Our experience is that in most instances, our first response (stage 1) is to the satisfaction of the person making the complaint. However, if the response to your initial complaint is not to your satisfaction, you may make a further request for your complaint to be investigated (stage 2) by someone who was not involved in dealing with your original complaint.

If you remain dissatisfied with that response you can appeal (stage 3) and one of our Assistant Directors will be assigned to review the outcome of the investigation and response to your complaint.

An appeal is the final stage of Shelter’s complaints policy. You may choose or if you remain dissatisfied, seek redress from a regulatory body depending on what your complaint is about, such as the Charity Commission, Legal Ombudsman, Financial Conduct Authority or Fundraising Regulator. Contact details will be provided at the appropriate time.