Major social care charities to merge for ‘greater operational resilience’

16 Feb 2024 News

By Mikael Damkier/Adobe

The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) is to merge with the Fremantle Trust, which has reported “poor financial performance” in recent years and struggled to build its reserves.

A statement from OSJCT reads that the merger is an “excellent strategic fit” for the two charities, with both organisations sharing the same charitable objectives and a values-led approach to care.

“Together, the charities can achieve greater benefits for residents through shared size, pooling of resources and economies of scale,” it reads.

OSJCT’s statement does not specify how the merged charity will run but says its initial priority is to get to know the Fremantle Trust teams and partners, and to meet residents, service users and their families.

The two organisations recorded a combined income of £191m last year.

Financial considerations

Fremantle Trust, which employs more than 1,300 workers across multiple facilities in Buckinghamshire, has recorded a series of minor deficits in recent years, with an income of £44.3m and expenditure of £44.4m in the year to March 2023.

Its latest accounts read: “The strategy previously agreed by the board aimed to build the charity’s level of reserves.

“With the charity’s poor financial performance leading up to and compounded by the pandemic, this is taking much longer to achieve than trustees initially hoped.

“This was a contributing factor for the trustees’ decision in September 2021 to look for a suitable not-for-profit organisation to merge with.

“Although financially the trust is now in a more sustainable position, the decision to merge remains the trustees’ desired outcome, in order for the trust to continue to modernise and provide greater operational resilience.”

OSJCT also recorded a deficit in the year to March 2023, with a total income at £147m and expenditure at £151m.

The charity employs more than 4,400 people, and manages over 500 volunteers in 61 care homes and eight housing schemes across Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, West Sussex, and Wiltshire.

‘Pooling resources makes us stronger’

Jim Burness, outgoing chair of trustees at the Fremantle Trust said: “I am really delighted that the Fremantle Trust has found such a like-minded partner organisation as the Orders of St John Care Trust.

“This merger is a testament to our collective dedication to caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“These are challenging times for social care. Together we have greater capacity to provide residential social care services, by charitable organisations, for the benefit of those that need it.”

Dan Hayes, chief executive of OSJCT said: “Our two organisations share so many core values which ensures that this merger is an ideal fit. We are both not-for-profit charities, absolutely dedicated to those who depend on us and those that deliver life-changing care and support.

“Pooling resources makes us stronger, more able to invest in our future, and fundamentally, more sustainable. We expect to learn a great deal from our new colleagues, and we see this opportunity as a great privilege.”

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