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Turning challenges into opportunities

A woman stands in the foreground wearing an orange Catch22 tshirt with a Catch22-branded fabric tote bag. In the background, people are taking part in a workshop. Overlaid is text that reads "Reform Agenda".

Every year, as I sit down to write this introduction, I have the time to truly reflect on our work over the past 12 months. How far have we come? How far do we have to go? I began my introduction last year outlining how Catch22 would be tackling the challenges posed by a tough economic environment, where reductions in public spending were becoming the norm.

They are now very much the norm, but one of Catch22’s greatest assets is its ability to turn challenges into opportunities – for both the people we seek to help and for the delivery of high-quality public services.

And so, we enter 2017 with optimism. Our sector is transforming itself at speed to meet the challenges which exist in society. There are many great examples of mission-led organisations achieving major social and economic impact. At Catch22, we continue to work hard to build strong and trusted relationships with the organisations we work with and with the people we support. We continue to drive local accountability by ensuring communities are invested in solving the social issues that sit on their doorstep, and we continue to unlock the capacity which exists right across society, empowering and equipping communities to achieve real change.

2016 was challenging for many people in our society and 2017 will be no different, but we believe that challenging times call for forward-thinking solutions. They also call for us to focus on what works, and has worked throughout our 200 years; building trusted relationships.

This past year Catch22 has successfully piloted an innovative new children’s social work model, incubated a ground-breaking new scheme to tackle the current prison recruitment crisis, developed, in partnership, the UK’s biggest restorative justice programme, and created an award-winning Public Services Lab, to name but a few key milestones. There are numerous further examples in the pages ahead. So much of this is due to our ambition to collaborate and innovate; through strong and effective partnership working and through the unwavering dedication and hard-work of my Catch22 colleagues.

This focus on trusted relationships is evident in the way we approach new ideas, not just the relationships we build with the people we support. We will continue to innovate and ‘take risk’ with ventures which break new ground through strong partnerships, and we will provide a home for smaller organisations which require a period of incubation and support to enable them to grow and flourish. As a social business we feel accountable to those around us who deliver, fund, support, invest in, partner with or otherwise share an interest in our work to deliver better public services. If we want transformation of delivery, if we want to deliver sustainable improvements in life chances, then we must work together to find solutions.

I am proud to chair an organisation that continues to drive change and improve people’s lives. It’s important to take a step back and recognise the tireless work of my colleagues: they deliver in extremely challenging situations, battling rising need in difficult conditions to genuinely transform lives and communities. I want to take this opportunity to thank them – thank them for their resilience and their optimism. Not only does it continue to inspire me, but it makes a real difference to society.

– Jim McKenna, Chairman of Catch22