Catch22 acquires Only Connect

Written by Matt Ritchie

Criminal justice charity Only Connect has been acquired by social business Catch22.

Only Connect will continue to operate independently, retaining its brand, board of trustees, premises and charity number and will operate as wholly-owned distinct business unit within Catch22's group structure.

Staff currently employed by Only Connect will continue in this employment, and all frontline services currently funded or contracted will remain unchanged.

Founding chief executive Danny Kruger will become chair of Only Connect. The current strategy director Mat Ilic takes full leadership of Only Connect and joins Catch22 as strategy director, justice.

Kruger has taken the role of chief executive of the West London Zone, a collective impact partnership of charities working with children and young people set up by Only Connect last year. He has also been appointed to Catch22’s trustee board.

The way for the merger was paved by collaboration between Kruger and Catch22 chief executive Chris Wright, which spread through both organisations building relationships and partnerships over time.

Kruger said there is a “systemic flaw” in the operating model for charities, with a reliance on unpredictable income streams to support high fixed costs making it hard to operate in a “business-like and forward thinking way”.

The sector should rationalise in order to get financially stronger and safer, Kruger said, highlighting that there are 1,300 charities working in British prisons and thousands more supporting ex-offenders and youth at risk.

“We need to see more mergers, acquisitions and partnerships,” Kruger said. “However, many smaller charities fear losing their identity in a merger. Today’s announcement shows that there is an alternative, one which will foster innovation and provide a platform for growth. We thank Catch22 for giving us this opportunity and look forward to working together.”

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