Our Privacy Statement


Data Protection Policy for all Managers, Staff, Volunteers and organisations working with us.

We may have to collect and use information about people with whom we work.  This personal information must be handled and dealt with properly, however it is collected, recorded and used, and whether it be on paper, in computer records or recorded by any other means.

We regard the lawful and correct treatment of personal information as very important to our successful operation and to maintaining confidence between us and those with whom we carry out business.  We will ensure that we treat personal information lawfully and correctly.


To this end we fully endorse and adhere to the principles of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

This policy applies to the processing of personal data in manual and electronic records kept by us in connection with our human resources function, and any of our services, as described below. It also covers our response to any data breach and other rights under the current data protection legislation.

This policy applies to the personal data of job applicants, existing and former employees, apprentices, volunteers, placement students, workers and self-employed contractors. This policy also applies to the personal data of all current and former clients engaged with any of our services. These are referred to in this policy as relevant individuals.

“Personal data” is information that relates to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified from that information, for example, a person’s name, identification number, location, online identifier. It can also include pseudonymised data.

“Special categories of personal data” is data which relates to an individual’s health, sex life, sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, political opinion, religion, and trade union membership. It also includes genetic and biometric data (where used for ID purposes).

“Criminal offence data” is data which relates to an individual’s criminal convictions and offences.

“Data processing” is any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR, all personal data obtained and held by us must be processed according to a set of core principles. In accordance with these principles, we will ensure that:

a) processing will be fair, lawful and transparent;

b) data be collected for specific, explicit, and legitimate purposes;

c) data collected will be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the purposes of processing;

d) data will be kept accurate and up to date; data which is found to be inaccurate will be rectified or erased without delay;

e) data is not kept for longer than is necessary for its given purpose;

f) data will be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of personal data including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing, accidental loss, destruction or damage by using appropriate technical or organisation measures;

g) we will comply with the relevant GDPR procedures for international transferring of personal data.

We keep several categories of personal data on our employees, volunteers and clients in order to carry out effective and efficient processes. We keep this data in either a personnel file relating to each employee or volunteer, or a client record relating to each client receiving support from any of our services. We also hold the data within our computer systems, for example, our holiday booking system or client record system.

Specifically, we hold the following types of data:

a) personal details such as name, address, phone numbers

b) information gathered via the recruitment process such as that entered into a CV or included in a CV cover letter, references from former employers, details on your education and employment history etc

c) information gathered via the client engagement process such as that received by referral or by telephone from an individual which may include sensitive personal data

d) details relating to pay administration such as National Insurance numbers, bank account details and tax codes

e) medical or health information

f) information relating to employment with us, including:

i) job title and job descriptions

ii) salary (for employees)

iii) wider terms and conditions of employment / volunteering

iv) details of formal and informal proceedings such as letters of concern, disciplinary and grievance proceedings, annual leave records, appraisal and performance information

v) internal and external training modules undertaken

All the above information is required for our processing activities. More information on those processing activities are included in our privacy notices for clients, employees and volunteers, which is available from a manager.

You have the following rights in relation to the personal data we hold on you:

h) the right to be informed about the data we hold on you and what we do with it;

i) the right of access to the data we hold on you; more information on this can be found in the section headed “Access to Data” below and in our separate policy on “Subject Access Requests”;

j) the right for any inaccuracies in the data we hold on you, however they come to light, to be corrected; this is also known as ‘rectification’;

k) the right to have data deleted in certain circumstances; this is also known as ‘erasure’;

l) the right to restrict the processing of the data;

m) the right to transfer the data we hold on you to another party; this is also known as ‘portability’;

n) the right to object to the inclusion of any information;

o) the right to regulate any automated decision-making and profiling of personal data.

In order to protect the personal data of relevant individuals, those within our organisation who must process data as part of their role have been made aware of our policies on data protection.

We have also appointed employees with responsibility for reviewing and auditing our data protection systems.

We acknowledge that processing may be only be carried out where a lawful basis for that processing exists and we have assigned a lawful basis against each processing activity.

Where no other lawful basis applies, we may seek to rely on the employee’s, volunteer’s or client’s consent in order to process data.

However, we recognise the high standard attached to its use. We understand that consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. Where consent is to be sought, we will do so on a specific and individual basis where appropriate. Employees, volunteers and clients will be given clear instructions on the desired processing activity, informed of the consequences of their consent and of their clear right to withdraw consent at any time.

As stated above, employees, volunteers and clients have a right to access the personal data that we hold on them. To exercise this right, employees / volunteers / clients should make a Subject Access Request.

We will comply with the request without delay, and within one month unless, in accordance with legislation, we decide that an extension is required. Those who make a request will be kept fully informed of any decision to extend the time limit.

No charge will be made for complying with a request unless the request is manifestly unfounded, excessive or repetitive, or unless a request is made for duplicate copies to be provided to parties other than the employee making the request. In these circumstances, a reasonable charge will be applied.

Further information on making a subject access request is contained in our Subject Access Request policy.

Sunderland Counselling Service may be required to disclose certain data /information to any person. The circumstances leading to such disclosures include:

p) any employee benefits operated by third parties;

q) disabled individuals - whether any reasonable adjustments are required to assist them at work;

r) individuals’ health data - to comply with health and safety or occupational health obligations towards the employee;

s) for Statutory Sick Pay purposes;

t) HR management and administration - to consider how an individual’s health affects his or her ability to do their job;

u) the smooth operation of any employee insurance policies or pension plans;

v) to assist law enforcement or a relevant authority to prevent or detect crime or prosecute offenders;

w) to assess or collect any tax or duty;

x) in the vital interests of an employee, volunteer or client – to provide relevant data to NHS or Police.
These kinds of disclosures will only be made when strictly necessary for the purpose.

All our employees and volunteers are aware that hard copy personal information should be kept in a locked filing cabinet, drawer, or safe.

Employees and volunteers are aware of their roles and responsibilities when their role involves the processing of data. All employees and volunteers are instructed to store files or written information of a confidential nature in a secure manner so that they are only accessed by people who have a need and a right to access them and to ensure that screen locks are implemented on all PCs, laptops etc when unattended. No files or written information of a confidential nature are to be left where they can be read by unauthorised people.

Where data is computerised, it should be coded, encrypted or password protected both on a local hard drive and on a network drive that is regularly backed up. If a copy is kept on removable storage media, that media must itself be kept in a locked filing cabinet, drawer, or safe.

Employees and volunteers must always use the passwords provided to access the computer system and not abuse them by passing them on to people who should not have them.

Personal data relating to employees, volunteers or clients should not be kept or transported on laptops, USB sticks, or similar devices, or shared via email unless prior authorisation has been received. Where personal data is recorded on any such device it should be protected by:

a) ensuring that data is recorded on such devices only where absolutely necessary.

b) using an encrypted system — a folder should be created to store the files that need extra protection and all files created or moved to this folder should be automatically encrypted.

c) ensuring that laptops or USB drives are not left where they can be stolen.

d) Files sent by email should be password protected.

Failure to follow our policies on data security may be dealt with via our disciplinary procedure. Appropriate sanctions include dismissal with or without notice dependent on the severity of the failure.

Where we engage third parties to process data on our behalf, we will ensure, via a data processing agreement with the third party, that the third party takes such measures in order to maintain our commitment to protecting data.

Where Sunderland Counselling Service act as a sub-contractor or data processor only for the NHS, Sunderland Counselling Service will comply with the NHS data controller, who is the prime contractor and who has responsibility to ensure that the national data opt out policy is adhered to in line with the published guidance from NHS-Digital.

Sunderland Counselling Service does not transfer personal data to any recipients outside of the EEA.

All data breaches will be recorded on our data breach log, known as the “Data Security and Protection Corrective and Preventive Action Log”. Where legally required, we will report a breach to the Information Commissioner within 72 hours of discovery. In addition, where legally required, we will inform the individual whose data was subject to breach.

More information on breach notification is available in our Incident Management policy.

New employees and volunteers must read and understand the policies on data protection as part of their induction.

All employees and volunteers receive training covering basic information about confidentiality, data protection and the actions to take upon identifying a potential data breach.

The nominated data controller/auditors/protection officers for Sunderland Counselling Service are trained appropriately in their roles under the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR.

All employees and volunteers who need to use the computer system are trained to protect individuals’ private data, to ensure data security, and to understand the consequences to them as individuals and to Sunderland Counselling Service of any potential lapses and breaches of our policies and procedures.

Sunderland Counselling Service keeps records of its processing activities including the purpose for the processing and retention periods in our GDPR Data Model. These records will be kept up to date so that they reflect current processing activities.

Our appointed compliance officer in respect of our data protection activities is:

Toby Sweet, Chief Executive
toby@sunderlandcounselling.org.uk / 07919 076 007