Catch22 forced to close two college sites because of pandemic

The social business Catch22 was forced to close two college sites as a result of the pandemic, latest figures show. 

According to the group’s latest accounts, for the year to 31 August 2020, trustees looked at several areas they considered were not financially viable, or were no longer core to the group’s charitable aims. 

Catch22 is a registered charity with interests in criminal justice, education and training, and youth services. 

Its closed its Swindon and Bracknell colleges at the end of the academic year in summer 2020, the accounts show. 

A total of 36 learners across both sites were moved on to other locations at the end of their study year and 10 staff were made redundant.

Launch22, a charity incubator aimed at helping start-ups and entrepreneurs off the ground, was also closed in July 2020 with no redundancies. 

The criminal justice charity Only Connect left the group in September 2020. 

The charity had joined the group in October 2015 when it was facing problems, said Catch22, but after five years of support it became an independent organisation again.

Catch22’s total income for 2019/20 fell by £4m to £53.2m, and total spending also fell by about £7m to £46.7m.

Expenditure on charitable activities fell slightly, to just under £47m. 

In addition, Community Links, which has a total income of about £3m a year and a team of more than 100 staff and volunteers, completed a merger with Catch22 in February this year.

Catch22 teamed up with Australian employment company Angus Knight to create a new venture called Jobs22 in July 2020.

At the time, Chris Wright, chief executive officer of Catch22, said the venture’s aim was to “help thousands of people who find themselves jobless in the current climate”.

In April this year, Jobs22 secured a £200m contract with the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver the Restart employability programme. 

The scheme was announced as part of the government’s 2020 Spending Review, and will give Universal Credit claimants who have been out of work for at least 12 months enhanced support to find jobs in their local area.

In his foreword to the accounts, Wright said: “There has been a lot of commentary about 'building back better', but we must also take into the future the lessons we have learned from the pandemic.”

He said more needed to be done to root out the systematic inequalities and discrimination that blight our current economic system and people’s lives.

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