Social-action charity Community Links will merge with Catch22 on 1st February 2021. Community Links and Catch22 have shared back office and corporate services since early 2017 when Community Links joined the Catch22 Group. The merger is the next step in their relationship, after both boards decided to strengthen the partnership and merge fully.
Community Links, which is supported by a team of 100 staff and volunteers, runs a range of programmes and services across youth, employment, health, advice and policy. The merger will bring tangible benefits to both organisations and ultimately benefit the 60,000 service users Community Links supports each year, in Newham, across Greater London, and further afield through its policy work.
Benefits of the merger will be recognised in three broad areas: sustainability, scope and scale. Although not solely about cost saving, it will come as no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the speed of integration given pressure on existing funds and the increased need for Community Links’ work – demand for some services over summer 2020 increased by up to 400%.
Chair of the Community Links Board, Alan Lazarus said:
“Ultimately the decision to merge has been driven by what is best for our many service users. The terms of the merger reflect the outgoing Board’s determination to maintain the uniqueness of Community Links and the focus on the community in Newham and across East London.”
Director of Community Links, Chi Kavindele said:
“The merger provides us with the best of both worlds: the local know-how and embeddedness that comes with being a small community-focused organisation, and the technical expertise and resources that come with being part of a large national charity. It’s a great platform for us to be able to continue our valuable work for a community that needs us and grow in the medium to long-term.”
CEO of Catch22, Chris Wright, said:
“The merger with Community Links is yet another exciting example of charitable organisations coming together and focusing on service users. Community Links and Catch22 have worked very closely together since Catch22 assumed sole membership in January 2017, and this formal merger means we’ll be able to have even more impact and build on the fantastic work already being done.”
Community Links’ name, branding and logo established over 40 years ago will continue, as will its commitment to the community in Newham and East London. There will continue to be a ring-fenced Community Links team and budget within Catch22 and the organisation will also continue to fundraise to carry on its important work. As part of the management structure, Director Chi Kavindele, who has been with Community Links since 2018, will continue to report into Catch22. There are no planned staffing changes as result of the merger.
The Community Links’ Board of Trustees will be dissolved when the merger takes place on 1st February. A new Advisory Committee, reporting to the Catch22 Board, will be tasked with safeguarding the legacy and future of Community Links and will also help ensure local knowledge, experience and expertise continues to drive what the organisation does. Recruitment to the Advisory Committee is underway and several former Trustees will move across to the Advisory Committee as a short-term measure to ensure continuity until it is fully established.
Links Event Solutions (LES), Community Links’ trading arm, will also be transferred to Catch22 as part of the merger.