Sparks will become part of Great Ormond Street charity from February

The medical research charity will be a subsidiary of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, but will retain its brand identity and its charity number

The children’s medical research charity Sparks will become part of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

The charities said today that Sparks would become a subsidiary of GOSHCC from 1 February. It will retain its own brand identity externally as well as its charity number, with its research programme and fundraising activities continuing under the Sparks name.

Sparks will operate from GOSHCC’s offices on Bernard Street in London.

The charities said the move would result in an increase in funding for child health research.

Elvira Morrison, acting chief executive of Sparks, told Third Sector that the smaller charity approached GOSHCC in the summer of 2016 to explore a partnership because it felt the larger charity could help to raise Sparks’ profile and enable it to access funding more easily from, for example, major donors.

"As a children’s charity with a strong reputation for funding national research, it felt like the natural home for Sparks," she said. Morrison will become strategic lead at Sparks.

Tim Johnson, chief executive of GOSHCC, said the prospect of the partnership was a "no brainer. "We want to see more money going into paediatric research," he said. "If through a partnership like this we can make it happen, we ought to be doing it."

Johnson said he believed the move was in line with the Charity Commission’s recent guidelines on trustees’ responsibilities to explore mergers where they made sense. "We often hear there are too many charities out there, so where people can join forces to deliver more for beneficiaries you’ve got to think that that’s a sensible thing to happen."

Morrison said Sparks’ trustees would retire from the charity’s board to be replaced by three trustees from GOSHCC’s board: Mark Sartori, Margaret Ewing and Diana Dunstan.

Sparks raises money to fund children’s medical research. It employs 10 people, having made nine people redundant last summer as part of a restructure that Morrison said would have happened regardless of the partnership because the charity needed to downsize. It had an income of £4.1m in the year to January 2016. Morrison said there would be no further job losses as a result of the partnership.

GOSHCC funds national research into new treatments for children, provides medical equipment, funds support services for children and their families and supports the essential rebuilding and refurbishment of the Great Ormond St hospital.

It employs 240 staff and had an income of £94m in the year to March 2016.

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