SMART Recovery is committed to our meetings being safe, supportive, and as effective as possible. We train and support meeting Facilitators and provide a range of materials to keep things on track, though as with any organization, things can go wrong. This page describes how we handle concerns or complaints about any SMART Recovery meeting, volunteer, or member of staff.


For minor grievances not related to safety or serious breaches of the Facilitators code of conduct, we would like to encourage a culture of informal problem-solving. Most differences of opinion, mistakes, or failings do not need to be taken through a complaint procedure, so we urge common sense and talk things through if no one is at risk of harm.

If the complaint is related to a particular meeting, please talk to the meeting Facilitator and explain the problem. If possible, point to the specific part of the meeting structure, code of conduct, or failure to follow the SMART meeting model that is of concern. Facilitators need and deserve feedback and often this will make the difference you seek. If the meeting is under the Partnership scheme it would be appropriate to speak to Champions/staff of the host agency.

If this does not achieve the result you want, you could contact the Volunteer Regional Coordinator. These do not exist in every area yet, but it is worth checking the ‘Contact SMART Recovery – Regional Coordinators’ section of the website. If there is no Volunteer Regional Coordinator or the matter is a little more complicated, you could talk to the National Coordinator. All these volunteers and staff will help you try to resolve problems and improve SMART Recovery.


SMART Recovery defines a formal complaint as ‘any expression of dissatisfaction with the activities, volunteers, staffing or approach of the organization that requires a formal response’.

You should use the formal complaints process if:

  • The issue is serious, in particular, if it risks the welfare or safety of a vulnerable person
  • You have tried to resolve this as an informal complaint and are not happy with the outcome


SMART Recovery aims to handle formal complaints in a way that:

  • is straightforward for the complainant
  • is dealt with promptly
  • helps us to learn from the complaint and do better in future
  • is proportionate; we don’t overreact but nor do we underestimate the severity of a problem


SMART Recovery’s responsibility is to:

  • acknowledge the formal complaint in writing;
  • respond within a stated period of time;
  • deal reasonably and sensitively with the complaint;
  • take action where appropriate.


A complainant’s responsibility is to:

  • where safety is not an issue, try and resolve the issue informally first;
  • put their complaint in writing;
  • explain the problem as clearly and as fully as possible;
  • allow SRBC a reasonable time to deal with the matter;
  • recognize that some circumstances may be beyond the control of SRBC.


Other than in exceptional circumstances, SMART Recovery will attempt to ensure that both the complainant and SMART Recovery maintain confidentiality. However, the circumstances giving rise to the complaint may be such that it may not be possible to maintain confidentiality. Should this be the case, the situation will be explained to the complainant.

For example, issues might arise related to the safety of an individual and SMART Recovery may have legal obligations under for example ‘Safeguarding vulnerable adults’ or child protection legislation to disclose information to the authorities.

Anonymous information about complaints may be supplied to the Board of Trustees to help them understand the issues being faced by the organization and its stakeholders.


Stage 1

If you are unable to resolve the issue informally or it is a serious issue, you should email directly to [email protected], which goes to the Director. Alternatively, write directly to Central Office clearly marking the envelope as ‘Complaint – for the Attention of Director’ though this may take as long as a week before it is reviewed.

In your letter, you should set out the details of your complaint, the consequences for you as a result, and what you would like to see happen. The Director may ask one of the National Coordinators to carry out the investigation itself, though the Director will oversee this and provide the written response. You can expect your complaint to be acknowledged within 4 working days of receipt. You should get a response and an explanation within 15 working days.

Stage 2

If you are not satisfied with the initial response to the complaint then you can write to the member of the Board of Trustees who has a lead responsibility to handle complaints, indicating you would like the issue to be reviewed. You can expect the Board member to acknowledge your request within 4 working days of receipt and a response within 15 workings days. The email address for this stage is [email protected] which is routed to the currently nominated Board member.

Stage 3

If you are not satisfied with the subsequent reply from the nominated Board member, then you have the option of writing to the Chair of the Board of Trustees stating the reason why you are dissatisfied with the outcome. You must do this within 10 days of receiving the written response from the Board member.

The Chair will, as he or she sees fit, discuss this with the entire Board and respond normally within 10 working days to inform you of the action which will be taken to investigate your complaint, and when you can expect to hear the outcome of the investigation.


Our aim is to resolve all matters as quickly as possible. However, inevitably some issues will be more complex and therefore may require longer to be fully investigated. Consequently, timescales given for handling and responding to complaints are indicative. If a matter requires a more detailed investigation, you will receive an interim response describing what is being done to deal with the matter, and when a full reply can be expected, and from whom.


  • If the complaint is about the actions of the Director of SMART Recovery, skip stage one and go straight to the nominated Board member as described in stage 2.
  • If the complaint is about a Board member, skip stages 1 and 2 – go straight to the Chair of the Board.
  • If the complaint is about the Chair, the entire Board, or the overall behavior of the charity (such as breaching charity rules), you should complain to the Chair. Optionally, you could also complain to the charity in the US, which gives the permission to use and develop SMART Recovery in this


Sometimes, a concern will be passed on verbally to a SMART Recovery volunteer or staff member. SMART Recovery may choose to follow this up and investigate so that we can learn from this feedback, though we will not in this case give feedback to the complainant.