Using the Advice Centre
What kind of service is it?
The Advice Centre provides information to enable you to make informed decisions about whatever problem you are facing. We deal with a wide range of subjects (see the menu on the left) and if we are not able to deal with your enquiry we will try to find someone who can. We can also provide advocacy and representation in certain circumstances. If you are unsure whether we can deal with your enquiry, just ask us.
The Advice Centre is committed to providing a confidential service. You will not be asked to state the nature of your enquiry in the presence of other people, and all interviews are confidential. Staff of The Advice Centre will not divulge the fact of your visit without your consent.
All staff working for The Advice Centre may share information amongst themselves and with the Permanent Secretary where necessary. However, other members of the SRC staff, and the SRC Executive, are not permitted access to client information. Any information used for the purpose of reports or social policy campaigning will be anonymised.
Confidentiality may be breached in the following circumstances:
1.You consent for us to contact a third party to assist in resolving your enquiry
2.Where there is a legal obligation to disclose information (e.g. a court order)
3.Where we believe that you, or a third party, is in serious personal danger.
We aim to provide an impartial, non-judgemental service to all our clients. Don’t be worried or embarrassed about approaching us with a problem – we are not here to judge you, or to make decisions for you, but to help you decide what your options are in any given situation.
Although funded by the University of Glasgow, the SRC is a separate organisation. This means that our advice workers are able to give you independent advice and details of your enquiry are not shared with any University staff unless you ask us to.
With your permission, we will keep a record of your visit and any discussions we have with you. You are entitled to a copy of your file, under the Data Protection Act 1998. Once your file is closed, it will be stored securely for six years and then disposed of confidentially.
It is our policy to offer representation for academic appeals, disciplinary cases, complaints and certain limited small claims court cases. We may withdraw from representing you if your case is considered to be frivolous or vexatious, or if you don’t comply with the terms of our representation agreement
We acknowledge that clients from time to time find themselves in stressful or upsetting situations, and this can cause people to act out of character. In many cases, a client’s anger is directed not at the Advice Centre but at the University, landlord, or other agency. However, in some cases clients display unacceptable behaviour towards Advice Centre staff.
Unacceptable behaviour includes:
- Physical or verbal aggression, behaviour or language which causes staff or other clients to feel afraid, threatened or abused.
Advice Centre staff have the right to choose to end an abusive or aggressive telephone call. Similarly, if written or emailed correspondence is considered aggressive, abusive or offensive, the client will be informed that any further correspondence of that nature will not be dealt with.
If physical violence is used or threatened, the police will be called.
- Unreasonable demands
This category includes: unreasonable persistence after the client has been told that the Advice Centre cannot help with the enquiry, continually contacting the Advice Centre about the same issue, or bombarding the Advice Centre with many different issues, imposing unreasonable timescales for dealing with a problem, and demanding services which the Advice Centre does not provide.
Where it is felt that the behaviour of a client under either of the above categories is adversely affecting the work of the SRC Advice Centre and the service to other clients, a decision may be made to restrict contact with that client.
For example, we may ask that the client contacts the Advice Centre only in writing, or only on certain days at a set time. We may exclude the client from contact with Advice Centre staff for a period of time.
Wherever possible, the client will be given the opportunity to modify her/his behaviour before this decision is made.
If the client feels that s/he has been unfairly dealt with under the Unacceptable Behaviour Policy, s/he may appeal in writing to the SRC President.
Conflict of Interest
A perceived conflict of interest may arise when the Advice Centre is consulted by both parties to a dispute (e.g. a complaint by one student against another).
Normally this would be identified through discussions between advice centre staff, at meetings and in casework monitoring by the Senior Advice, Policy & Training Officer. Advice Centre staff will be aware of cases where a conflict of interest might occur and will take care to share information with each other in order that any potential conflict can be identified at an early stage.
It is not a conflict of interest merely to give information (e.g. to explain the provisions of the University Calendar) to both parties in a dispute. However, if both parties ask for representation or advocacy then a conflict will arise.
In these cases, the party who has approached the Advice Centre first will be represented. The other party will be offered assistance to obtain an alternative source of representation – e.g. a member of staff in another support service, or an external advice agency.
Unhappy with the Advice Centre?
If you are unhappy with any aspect of the Advice Centre’s service to you, please let us know by speaking either to your advice worker or to the Senior Advice, Policy & Training Officer. We take all comments into account in deciding how to improve our service.
If you are still unhappy, and would like to lodge a formal complaint, the procedure is available from SRC Reception.