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Canning Town charity merges with social business in survival bid

PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 February 2017

Community Links HQ in Barking Road, Canning Town

Community Links HQ in Barking Road, Canning Town

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A charity has merged with a social business in a move to protect its future.

Arvinda Gohil, chief executive of Community LinksArvinda Gohil, chief executive of Community Links

Canning Town-based Community Links has been acquired by Catch22 but will maintain its own identity, board of trustees, premises and charity number under the new arrangement.

It will benefit from shared group and back office services, including IT and HR support, while the charity’s services will focus on core activities in order to operate more “effectively”.

However, Arvinda Gohil, Community Links’ chief executive, admitted the merger could result in job losses.

She added: “The third sector is a difficult place at the moment with a number of funding sources being challenged along with a growing need.”

“This partnership will provide both organisations with the opportunity to develop innovative work whilst providing enhanced security of a bigger group and on a bigger canvas, delivering real and sustainable social change.”

Catch22, which offer educational and emotional support as part of its services, has 1,000 employees and an income of £50million a year.

In contrast, Community Links has 48 employees and an annual income of almost £4m.

Chris Wright, chief executive of Catch22, will sit on Community Links’ board as part of the new partnership.

He said: “Larger organisations have a responsibility to open up their assets, scale and networks to act as a platform for other organisations to thrive.

“Local charities should be enabled to keep their identity and autonomy but to operate at scale through this kind of relationship, for the greater social good.”

Community Links plans to extend its open-door advice services from four days to five days during the working week.

Its future programmes will include Building Better Opportunities (BBO), which will support 1,300 black and ethnic minority (BAME) women into work, and a 10-week young person’s mental health mentoring initiative called More Than Mentors.


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