It can be stressful and isolating to raise a concern, but when someone does raise a concern, they are trusting the organisation and giving it an opportunity to put right a wrongdoing or reduce risk. The organisation must repay this trust by protecting the person throughout the process and making sure they do not suffer any harm as a result of speaking up.
Anyone receiving a concern must:
- thank the person for raising the concern
- listen to them carefully
- take the concern seriously and
- reassure them that:
- the concern will be handled sensitively
- they have done the right thing by raising the concern, and
- they will not be treated badly, even if no risks are identified.
In some cases, it will be enough to thank the person raising the concern, and provide regular feedback on any resulting investigation. In other cases, the person may need more specialist support. Anyone receiving concerns must ask what support the person raising the matter may need and how this can be provided, when they first raise the concern. If support needs are identified, the appropriate resources must be provided wherever possible, and the person must be given contact details for support providers.
The support that is available may include:
- access to a confidential contact who can provide information and advice on the procedure for raising concerns, as well as support during the process
- counselling or psychological support services for people suffering from stress because they are involved in this procedure
- occupational health services which take account of the stress involved in raising a concern, and
- considering, with the person who has raised a concern, a range of actions to reduce any consequences they are facing (or think they may face) as a result of raising the concern. These actions may include making changes at work or putting in place temporary arrangements to reduce risk.
Anyone raising a concern may want to have someone to support them at meetings, or throughout the process. This could be a union representative, friend or colleague. If it is a friend, relative or colleague, their role is to support the person raising the concern rather than to represent them or respond on their behalf. Union representatives can be more involved in discussions, although it is best if the person raising the concern openly shares the information they have. It is worth noting that the person providing support may also face some risks through being involved in the process. The person the concern was raised with should discuss this with them, and provide appropriate support.