Our history

Catch22's history starts in 1788 with the formation of The Philanthropic Society, who aimed to 'unite the spirit of charity with the principles of trade' - our original definition of a 'social business'.

For over 200 years, Catch22 has sought to build better public services. We use our expertise and our insight to design new ways of doing things, improving outcomes for individuals and their whole communities. Catch22 launched in 1788 as The Royal Philanthropic Society, where a group met in a coffee house to discuss the homeless children they saw begging and stealing on the streets. They answered this challenge by opening homes where children in need were trained by skilled tradesmen.

We see the impact of those ideas today, in our children’s homes and in our apprenticeship levy.

We may also have been the first to measure impact, too; our archives show that by 1848 1,500 children had been helped and only 1 in 20 committed further offences. Many of our reform ideas today would have been at home in that 18th century coffee house. We believe in services that are built around people, not processes (we call this ‘being more human’), that involve the community through volunteering (unlocking capacity) and that deliver local accountability through different governance models.

Today we seek to reform the system in six different ways:

1. Building new governance structures to build the capacity of smaller organisations
2. Designing and delivering innovative services that produce better outcomes
3. Collaborating with commissioners and service users to design new ways of working
4. Providing a platform for smaller charities that share our social mission and supporting them to thrive
5. Partnering in new ways with businesses to deliver social outcomes
6. Sharing our policy and practice insights with government and key policy makers, to drive government adoption

Who knows which of these ideas we’ll be talking about in 200 years?

Further reading