20 February 2020 11:43

Data Protection and Privacy Policy

This policy explains how and why we, MQ: Transforming Mental Health, use your personal data, to ensure you can make informed choices and be in control of your information at MQ. Our practices are aligned with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which replaces the Data Protection Act 1998, and will come into effect on 25 May 2018, and the existing ePrivacy regulation, called the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR).

This policy should be read in conjunction with the grant funding letter and terms and conditions of award.

1. Who we are

MQ is the UK’s leading mental health research charity, funding scientific research to transform the lives of everyone affected by mental illness. We fund innovative studies with the power to transform lives, we build the mental health science community worldwide, and we engage more people to support mental health research, guided by those with lived experience. By working in these three closely linked ways, we’re building a future where mental illness are understood, effectively treated and one day preventable.

We are a registered charity in England and Wales (1139916) & Scotland: (SC046075) and a registered company in England and Wales (7406055), based at 6 Honduras Street, London EC1Y 0TH.  If you have any questions about how we use data, or about anything in this policy, please contact us at the address above, call 0300 030 8100 or email at info@mqmentalhealth.org.

2. Our commitment to keep your data safe

At MQ we are committed to keeping your personal information safe. We collect and process data in order to carry out our charitable activity of funding research to transform the lives of everyone affected by mental illness. We want to reassure you that your privacy is important and safe in our hands. Under Data Protection legislation, we have a legal duty to protect any personal information we collect from you. We use leading technologies to safeguard your data, and keep strict security standards to prevent any unauthorised access to it.  We will take all reasonable measures to ensure we keep your information secure, accurate and up to date, and store it only for as long as is reasonable and necessary.

Information will be processed only by MQ data controllers, or on our behalf under strictly regulated conditions and in line with the provisions of data protection laws. MQ data controllers are members of staff who have access to our databases or data storage systems and have received data protection training.

We will take all appropriate security measures to ensure any platforms related to MQ have gone through a quality control process to ensure security. However, given the nature of the internet we cannot guarantee complete security.

3. Why do we collect your data?

We know your personal information is important and we are committed to being transparent regarding how and why we use it.

At MQ, we would like to build long-lasting relationships with you based on trust, transparency and compassion. By processing your personal information, it helps us to fulfil our aim of deliver our charitable purposes, maintaining a robust internal database and adhering to best practices whereby your information and preferences are kept up to date.

Your information enables us to better understand you and be more appropriate when communicating with you.

Lawful Processing

We are legally obliged to have a lawful basis for collecting and using your personal data. This means that we will only collect and use your data if:

  • You have given us consent
  • We have formed a contractual relationship (i.e. provision of an award)
  • It is within MQ’s legitimate interests to do so, or
  • MQ is under a legal duty.


Where you have provided your consent for us to keep your personal data, we will use this basis to store and process those details. You have the right to withdraw consent at any time by getting in touch with us.

Contractual Relationships

If you apply for a research grant, we will store and process all of the personal information received in that research grant application on a contractual basis, whether your application is successful or not (in accordance with our application handling procedures and our Terms & Conditions of Award.

We will use your personal data for legal, personnel, administrative and management purposes including making grants payments.

Legitimate Interests

Sometimes it may not be practical to ask an individual for consent. In these situations, the law states that personal data may be legally collected if this is necessary for a legitimate business interest – as long as it is used fairly and without affecting your individual rights. We will never use your personal data unless we have ensured that it is fair and balanced to do so, it is within your expectations and it is not unduly intrusive. If you wish to change the way your personal data is used for research funding purposes, simply contact, info@mqmentalhealth.org

We believe the following summarises our main legitimate interests in relation to research funding:

  • General administrative purposes, such as responding to enquiries and expense claim payments.
  • Our external review processes, used to assess research grant applications and make funding decisions.
  • Analysis and segmentation of our grant application and award information to help inform our strategy, and to monitor and improve our operation and the provision of grant funding.
  • Tracking the outputs and impact of our research funding and using this information in marketing and fundraising activities.

4. How is personal information collected?

The majority of personal information is given to us directly by you.  We encourage you to take responsibility for reporting personal data amendments by contacting MQ. When you make an enquiry to MQ, register on our online grants system, apply for a research grant or otherwise provide us with your details, we will collect, store and may process your personal information.

For instance, if you are an applicant for MQ funding via https://flexigrant.mq.org, you have a responsibility for updating your personal data directly by logging in to your online portal account.

Your personal information may be given to us as part of a research grant application or in relation to a grant award by another person – for example if you are a co-applicant, mentor, or a member of staff named on a research grant application or award. Whenever we receive your personal data in this way, the person providing us with your details is required to inform you that your personal data has been given to us. If you have any concerns about your personal data being provided in this way, please contact the person providing your details, or contact us directly. 

Under data protection law, certain categories of personal information are recognised as sensitive personal data (such as information relating to health, beliefs or political affiliation). In limited cases, we may collect sensitive personal data about you, for example your experience of mental health.

We only collect this sensitive personal data if there is a clear reason for doing so. For instance, some of our supporters give in memory of a loved one, perhaps someone they have sadly lost to suicide. We would like to note this on their record to make sure we are sensitive to this and give the right support.

We may also obtain your personal details from third parties or from publicly available sources for the purposes of identifying suitable experts to review particular research grant applications or to join our Funding Panels.

Whatever sensitive information we do hold, we will never share unless we have your explicit consent.

5. How is information collected online?

We may collect information when you visit our website. This is for analysis purposes on how you interact and engage with MQ’s content and adverts on our website as well as social media.

None of this information contains any of your personal data.

Our website also contains links to other sites. This privacy policy applies only to our site. Please ensure that you read the privacy policy of any site that you are transferred to that collects personal data. We will make it clear and transparent when you are connecting to an external website.

6. How do we use cookies to collect information?

We only ever collect information from you that helps us ensure you get the most from your visit to our site.

Cookies are text files placed on a computer which collect visitor behaviour information. Google uses cookies and we use their web analytics service called Google Analytics to help us to monitor how people use our website. It creates statistical reports that allow us to learn more about what people are interested in or what isn’t working so well. This facilitates us to improve interactions. This also helps us to personalise the content and adverts you see.

You can opt-out of cookies but are required to do this proactively by changing the setting in your browser – unfortunately, we cannot control this on your behalf. We do have a cookies policy if you’d like to read more about this.

7. What types of data do we collect?

We collect several types of personal information.

  • Personal details:
    • Your name, email, address, telephone etc. when you sign up as a supporter or grant applicant
    • We may also collect date of birth, age and/or gender where appropriate (e.g. when registering for an event or completing a supporter survey), ORCID ID, academic history
    • Perhaps you have shared your own experience of mental health and have given us permission to store this information and/or share it
    • Your dietary and accessibility requirements when attending an event
  • Financial information:
    • Your bank account details for cash donations (such as direct debits or credit card details) and invoices from suppliers for instance
    • Your Gift Aid Status for claiming gift aid
    • Your institutions bank details
    • All financial information is encrypted
  • Details of your interests:
    • Your information from campaigns you have signed up to, events or activities you have registered for or how you have interacted with our content
    • Information related to grant applications:
    • Details of the activity being undertaken by the Applicant (including activity title and evidence submitted by Applicants and Associates of the activity being undertaken such as research data, photographs, videos and minutes of meetings).
    • Proof of qualifications (i.e. PhDs)
    • Electronic signatures
  • Your contact preferences:
  • You can tell us how you’d like to be contacted and through which channels. You can be as selective as you wish in order to help us get this right for you

In order to ensure accuracy of your data MQ can only take reasonable steps to create an accurate record for you. However, we look to you for ensuring the on-going accuracy of your personal data is correct.

If you provide any bank or credit card details, for example to claim expenses, we will record these financial details only for the purposes of processing the transaction or as required by law.

8. Who is your data shared with?

You can be assured we will never share your information with another organisation for its own marketing purposes. However, in some cases, we may need to pass your information on in order to fulfil the business purposes of the charity. In this case, you can be assured we only work with third parties who treat data as securely as we do, in line with this policy.

Third party agents and service providers

For operational reasons, or in order to meet specific requests, data may also be processed on MQ’s behalf by, third party or service providers who are contracted by MQ, in order to fulfil the business purposes of the charity, e.g. the software provider of our online grants system, our funding partners or specialist intellectual property advisors. In these instances, data will be handled under strictly regulated conditions and in accordance with the data protection and security regulations. 

Third parties will only handle MQ’s data once we have screened their best practice policies and reviewed their:

  • Methodology for being compliant with regulations
  • Processes for monitoring quality control
  • Methodology of conducting due diligence

    They will also need to have signed both a ‘Service Level Agreement (SLA)’ and confidentiality agreement called an ‘Non-disclosure Agreement.

    We will never sell your details and will only share your details with third parties (who are not working with us directly) with your explicit consent.

    We will only disclose information in one or more of the following circumstances: 

  • Where consent has been obtained
  • Where there is a legal obligation
  • Where there is a public duty (e.g. legal reasons)
  • In connection with the transfer of all or any of rights and obligations to a third party (for example if we merged with another organisation)

External reviewers

We will share your personal data, included as part of a research grant application, with our Funding Panels and selected external reviewers.

Host institutions

If your application is successful, we will share personal data contained in the application with the institution(s) at which you will carry out your research.

Fundraising and marketing purposes

If your application is successful, we will use some of your personal details for promotional materials online or in our fundraising campaigns. This forms part of our award agreement. We may use personal information such as your name and institution and promotional photographs or videos you supply to, or are taken by, MQ.  We may also contact you to request additional promotional material or to invite you to attend our events and conferences.

Other research organisations

We will also share details of research grant applications and awards, sometimes including associated personal data, with our funding partners and research organisations such as the Association of Medical Research Charities who monitor and regulate medical research. This forms part of our award agreement.

We may also share your personal information where we are compelled by law to do so.

International data transfers

As part of our research funding processes, we may transfer your personal information to countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) due to the nature of some of our funding operations. This forms part of our award agreement. We will only transfer information outside of the EEA for the purposes of reviewing a research grant application, to seek additional funding from our international partners, for grant/expense claim payments or if you, or a collaborator, are based outside of the EEA.  By providing your details during the application process, you consent to this international transfer of your data.

When we transfer your personal information outside the EEA, we will take reasonable steps to ensure that such information will be adequately protected, in particular by either:

  • using standard data protection clauses which have been adopted by the European Commission and can be accessed here; or
  • in respect of some transfers to the United States, in reliance on the EU/US Privacy Shield. For further information please see www.privacyshield.gov/welcome.

9. Monitoring vulnerability

9.1 Children and Young People

It’s important that children and young people can share their experience and views on mental health, and we are committed to ensuring real life experience guides our work and priorities.

If a child, or young person under the age of 18, wants to interact with MQ by joining our Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) or by sharing their story, we require pre-consent from their parent or guardian.

We believe that it is important to protect and respect the rights of all individuals in relation to their personal data but would seek the parental or guardian consent before featuring photos or the story of a child aged under 18.

9.2 Safeguarding

MQ is committed to protecting all individuals by putting appropriate measures in place which prevents harm or damage.

Our work in mental health does mean that we come into contact with people who may be vulnerable in different ways. MQ takes this responsibility very seriously and we try to ensure that people feel comfortable to raise any concerns should they arise.

We are also committed to training staff whose role is related to working with people from outside of MQ. This can include, donors, YPAG members, people with lived-experience and case stories. 

If you would like to have a copy of our internal Safeguarding Policy please do contact us directly.

10. How long do we keep your data for?

We will only store and process your personal data where we have a lawful basis to do so (see section 3 above). The table below summarises the data we hold, the retention periods involved and why we hold the data.

Personal data obtained during

Retention period

Lawful basis

General enquiries or communication with applicants, awardees, referees, research staff and officers, sponsors and supporters

Indefinite (unless required by law to delete)

Within legitimate interest of MQ in order to respond to enquiries relating to applications for funding, general enquiries on the Charity’s aims, objectives and business, and for administration purposes
e.g. tracking previous interactions with MQ

Registration on our online grants system

Indefinite (unless required by law to delete)

Within legitimate interest of MQ in order to respond to enquiries relating to applications for funding

Application for research grant funding

Personal information entered on grants system as part of an application but not submitted

One month after the grant round is closed

Within legitimate interest of MQ in order to administer funding calls

Personal information as part of a submitted application

Unsuccessful applications

Successful applications

Indefinite (unless required by law to delete)

Indefinite (unless required by law to delete)

Within a contractual relationship then legitimate interest of MQ in order to administer funding calls e.g. information from an unsuccessful application may be used if you resubmit the application. Or for general analysis of our application data which can help inform our strategy, and monitor and improve our effectiveness

Within a contractual relationship then legitimate interest of MQ in order to administer the award & monitor outputs and impact of our funded research.
Or for general analysis of our application and award data which can help inform our strategy, and monitor and improve our effectiveness and for marketing and fundraising activities.

Selection of external reviewers

Indefinite (unless required by law to delete)

Within legitimate interest of MQ in order to evaluate funding calls through external review e.g. we hold data to help identify the most appropriate external reviewers for our applications, without external review we could not make funding decisions

Grant administration
- Personal information provided during the award period

Indefinite (unless required by law to delete)

Within a contractual relationship then legitimate interest of MQ in order to administer the award & monitor outputs and impact of our funded research
e.g. new staff member details, personal data from progress report or for marketing and fundraising activities.

Expense claim payments

Indefinite (unless required by law to delete)

MQ relies on both legitimate interest and contractual relationships to allow for the processing the award transactions or as required by law administration

11. Your rights

Under Data Protection legislation, you have certain rights regarding the information we hold on you as detailed below. Should any of your personal details change, or you have any questions on your rights, or you would like to make a request, please write to us at MQ: Transforming Mental Health, 6 Honduras Street, London EC1Y 0TH or contact us at info@mqmentalhealth.org

Right to be Informed – You have the right to be told how your personal information will be used. This policy document details how we will use your data.

Right of Access – You, or an organisation with legal purpose, can write to us asking what information we hold on you and to request a copy of that information. This is known as a ‘Subject Access Request’ and you can request this by emailing supportercare@mqmentalhealth.org

Please note that proof of identity and the reason for your request, will be necessary for MQ to respond appropriately. We may ask for further details if needed.  We will respond to you within 30 days.

Right of Erasure – You have the right to ask for all of your personally identifiable data to be deleted. Should you choose to exercise this right, we would recommend that we add you to our suppression list of people who do not want to hear from us again.  Please note that this will not apply if there is lawful duty for us to continue to use the data we hold about you.

Right of Rectification – If you believe our records are inaccurate, you have the right to ask for those records concerning you to be updated.

Right to Restrict Processing – In certain situations you have the right to ask for processing of your personal data to be restricted because there is some disagreement about its accuracy or legitimate usage.

Right to Object - You have the right to stop the processing of your personal data for direct marketing or profiling purposes, or for other legitimate interests of the charity.  This is at your discretion and we will respect your choice. However, for us to enact this we encourage you to notify us.

Right to Withdraw Consent - If you have given us consent to process your data, you have the right to withdraw this consent at any time.

12. Updating our Privacy Policy for Research Funding

We will update our Privacy Policy in the future to make sure it reflects our current data practices or any regulatory updates. Please visit this page to keep informed about our current data practices. Our Privacy Policy was last updated on 1st November 2019.

Please visit this website www.mqmentalhealth.org to keep up to date with any changes to our privacy policy.

13. Who to contact if you have a concern

If you have any questions or you are not happy about something, please get in touch so we can help resolve any issues. Please write to us at:

MQ: Transforming Mental Health, 6 Honduras Street, London EC1Y 0TH or contact us at info@mqmentalhealth.org

If you have any further concerns about data protection, you can also contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

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© 2020 MQ: Transforming Mental Health Registered charity number: 1139916