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Press Release

Interserve-backed Capacity opens in Liverpool

by Interserve Press Office | May 30, 2017

A new Interserve-backed organisation to help voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) across Merseyside opened in Liverpool this week.

Capacity: The Public Services Lab is a collaborative venture between Interserve, Catch22, Clubfinance and Big Society Capital. It will act as an ‘incubator centre’ to help VCSEs develop the skills and business practices in order to take a more central role in delivering innovative, effective and sustainable public services.

Speakers at the launch event, hosted in The Tempest Building, Liverpool, included Dr Simon Bowers, vice chair of Liverpool CCG; Yvonne Thomas, a managing director at Interserve; Christopher Graham, Capacity’s chair; and Catch 22’s Chris Wright.

Chris Catterall, Capacity’s chief executive officer, said:

“We have capacity to help, but the system to bring those agencies together with the people who need them isn’t efficient.

“We’ve got people coming out of prison who are homeless, but the city has empty homes.

“I have a genuine belief that there’s the capacity in our community to do more. But we have to think differently, commission differently and work differently in order to achieve that.”

Capacity was launched to look at ways to support organisations with procurement, risk management and project management so that they can become established and meet local need; whether that is related to reducing re-offending, supporting people with health issues or accommodation – among other needs.

Interserve’s Yvonne Thomas, who previously worked in central government as a commissioner, said: “My experience taught me running competitive tendering processes which only can have one winner can create an awful lot of waste because it’s almost always the case that many of the organisations that lose out have ideas which would have had a powerful impact.

“I am lucky enough to be part of a company which is extremely socially motivated and was prepared to back this idea. Catch 22’s Chris Wright and I wanted to see if we could do things differently and that’s why this fantastic group of people has come together.

“I firmly believe there is a real need for Capacity and that the organisation can achieve a great deal for the people of Liverpool by improving services delivered to the public.”

Chris added: “When people are cold, hungry or looking for a job – they don’t care who is providing the service, nor about how that service is commissioned.

“We believe that the money and the expertise exists in Liverpool to fix these problems. We have social investment, charitable money and public sector money swirling around social problems, yet no co-ordination between the three. We have the ambition that by 2022, 50 per cent of VCSE organisations will be delivering public services, a 40 per cent increase.”

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

Capacity won Big Society Capital’s Business Impact Challenge which sought to encourage and support proposals from the private sector to establish ‘social businesses’ that would deliver a positive social impact whilst simultaneously operating along commercially sustainable principles.

Capacity is already winning attention for Liverpool. It was recently awarded ‘Innovative New Idea’ at the 2016 Finance for the Future Awards. The award celebrates the year’s most innovative new idea with the potential to have a tangible impact on society, in line with the United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Chief Executive Chris Catterall joined from Liverpool charity The Reader where he was Director of Enterprise. Chair Christopher Graham recently completed a seven year term as Information Commissioner and is currently Vice-President of the Council of Liverpool University.

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