BHA partners with mental health charity on ‘BeWell’ project

Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) has joined forces with mental health charity Penumbra on a new pilot project aimed at supporting the mental health and wellbeing of its tenants.

BHA, which has 1,873 tenancies across Berwickshire, is seeing growing evidence of increasing mental health conditions and reducing levels of wellbeing impacting its tenants. Declining levels of mental health is a key feature of tenancy breakdown and disengagement by customers, leading to increased rent arrears, evictions, abandonments, terminations and resulting voids.

The ‘BeWell’ project is an 18-month pilot support service for BHA tenants (adults 16+) who have additional mental health and wellbeing support needs that impact on their ability to positively manage their tenancy. This includes early intervention to prevent tenancy breakdown.

BHA staff will have direct access to this service operated by Penumbra, a leading mental health charity which supports 1,800 adults and young people each week around Scotland, including around the Borders. The project is funded by BHA with additional funding from the SPA Community Benefit Fund and Lintel the Trust.

The aims of BeWell are to:

  • Promote independent living by addressing key factors that risk tenancy sustainment;
  • Work in a partnership with Penumbra to provide the range of emotional and practical support that BHA tenants need;
  • Reduce tenancy breakdown and rent arrears for BHA tenants;
  • Maximise access to BHA’s tenancy support teams including Financial Inclusion, Customer Accounts and Befriending services;
  • Connect people to community-based personal and social support networks so that they feel safe and secure at home.

Dougie Paterson, BHA’s community initiatives manager, said: “We are delighted to be working with mental health charity Penumbra to provide their unique recovery support to those who need additional help to stay in their homes.

“Having a secure home is crucial in helping recovery from mental ill health and BHA want to do more to help those who may be at risk of losing their tenancy. The BeWell pilot project is a step toward that ambition and we are thrilled to have the experience and wisdom of BeWell staff to help our tenants as much as possible.

“We are very grateful to the SPA Community Benefit Fund and the Lintel Trust for their faith in us to deliver this project and ensure our tenants can get the additional support they need for their mental health and wellbeing.”

Carol Dallas, the Borders service manager for Penumbra, added: “We know that having somewhere to call home and feeling connected to our community are important factors in maintaining good mental wellbeing, so it’s great to be collaborating with BHA on the BeWell project and contributing our unique approach to supporting people.

“The Penumbra approach to mental health recovery and wellbeing support is very much tailored to each person’s personal needs, choices and aspirations. Our highly skilled teams work incredibly hard to ensure that people accessing our services are active participants in shaping the support that meets their needs, personal goals and chosen lifestyle. Working in collaboration on the BeWell project will mean we can use our experience of engaging with people in this meaningful way to support people to maintain a safe and secure home.”

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