Any personal data provided by you to the PF Counselling Service through any means (verbal, written, in electronic form, or by your use of our website) will be held and processed in accordance with the data protection principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation for the purposes of providing the services you have requested from us, and to meet the legitimate interests of the charity.
This policy only applies to data collected by PF staff and volunteers, and via our own forms and website. Third party agents, and websites which are linked to ours, are not covered by this policy. If you have any queries concerning your personal information or any questions on our use of the information, please contact us using our contact form.
When you request counselling with the PF, become a volunteer with the PF, or otherwise provide your personal details to us, you will be asked to consent to our processing of your data under the terms of this policy.
What information do we collect?
- Counselling Requests– Registering with us to request access to our counselling service can be done online, on paper or in person. Our request process involves providing us with your name, address, telephone numbers and email address. We may also request information on your availability, therapeutic issues, and other details which we deem relevant to processing your request.
- Initial Assessment Appointments– At an initial appointment we ask about your current personal, social, medical and financial circumstances. We may also ask about your background and family history, as well as the issues which are affecting you now. We require this information so that we can decide about our offer of counselling to you, to assign you to a counsellor, and to manage the service we provide to you.
- Volunteer Placements – Counsellors, receptionists and other volunteers may apply for placements by form, letter, or email. They may also be interviewed. We may ask about your background, qualifications, experience, and professional memberships. We also ask for your name, address, telephone numbers, email address, and address and telephone details for people we may need to contact for you in emergencies.
- Job opportunities– In order to apply for job opportunities advertised on our website and elsewhere, you may be required to provide your contact details and other personal information contained in your CV (such as employment history and qualifications). This information is only processed for the purpose of considering your job application and making any offer of employment.
- Donors – The information you give us when making a donation may include your name, postal address, email address, phone number, amount donated, Gift Aid status, and messages.
- Website – We use Google Analytics to collect anonymous data relating to user behaviour and ‘web traffic’ statistics. The collection and use of this data by Google Inc. is subject to their own Privacy Policies.
- Other Forms– The information you give us on our forms (including all enquiry and application forms) may include your name, postal address, email address, phone number and other messages to us.
What do we use your information for?
We use information held about you in the following ways:
- To provide clients with the professional counselling service requested from us.
- To enable us to offer appropriate opportunities and support to our counsellors, receptionists and other volunteers.
- To offer suitable counselling appointments, and to allocate clients and counsellors for counselling.
- To notify you about changes to your appointments and other changes to our services.
- To seek feedback from you on your experience of counselling with us.
- To improve our service to ensure that it is provided in the most effective manner for you and for us.
- To administer our service, including the arrangement of appointments, the handling of donations, and for financial control, data analysis, research, statistical and survey purposes.
- To keep in touch with those who ask us to, for the purposes of organisational, service and professional development.
What information do we share?
We will not share any information about you with other organisations or people, except in the following situations:
- Consent – The PF may share your information with professional carers or others whom you have requested or agreed we should contact.
- Serious harm – The PF may share your information with the relevant authorities if we have reason to believe that this may prevent serious harm being caused to you or another person.
- Compliance with law – The PF may share your information where we are required to by law or by the regulations and other rules to which we are subject.
How do we keep your information safe?
All information you provide to us is stored as securely as possible. All paper forms and correspondence are kept in locked filing cabinets on our premises. All electronic records are stored on our own on-site computer server, all access to which requires password-protected authentication, or by reputable service providers using secure internet ‘cloud’ technology.
Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is never completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your information using industry-standard protocols and encryption, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to us via email, including forms completed on our website which are transmitted by email; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.
Your identifiable personal information is kept separately from any session notes and other descriptive material. Client notes and other documentation are destroyed 3 years after the end of counselling, and personal contact details are destroyed/deleted after 10 years of no contact or updates.
You have the right to ask us to provide a copy of the information held by us in our records, for which we may charge a small fee. You also have the right to require us to correct any inaccuracies in your information. If you would like to do this, please contact us using our contact form.
You may withdraw your consent for us to hold and process your data at any time. However, if you do this while actively receiving counselling at the PF, your counselling would have to end. You can withdraw your consent by submitting our Consent Withdrawal Form, or by contacting the Director.
Changes to this policy
We may edit this policy from time to time. If we make any substantial changes we will notify you by posting a prominent announcement on our website.