Key to the door as Berwickshire Housing Association turns 21
Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA), the first Large Scale Voluntary Transfer organisation in Scotland, turned 21 years old this month and celebrated with a garden party at its head office in Duns.
Staff, tenants, Board members and volunteers, both past and present got together to celebrate the Association’s successes over the last two decades.
Philip Jones, the Association’s first chief executive, said: “So many people contributed to the success of BHA – the original district councillors who came up with the plan, the legal and financial professionals who put together the unavoidably complex business arrangements, the Regulators who got to grips with these arrangements for their approval processes, the volunteers from all walks of life who became Board members responsible, without any pay, for the direction and governance of the Association and staff who committed their careers to this unknown and untried organisation and the tenants who had faith that we would do what we said we would and stuck by us throughout.”
Alick Hay, BHA’s first ever convener, remembered: “The process of transfer was long, convoluted and often frustrating but it was ultimately achieved at the beginning of September 1995. On the appointed day, myself as convener, the late George Finlay as vice convener and Philip Jones as chief executive sat in the lawyer’s office in Edinburgh and each signed over 500 pages of the transfer document. Writer’s cramp ensued!”
A timeline of BHA’s 21 year journey to date was put together for the event and it’s clear that many things have changed since 1995.
Helen Forsyth, the Association’s chief executive, said: “The future will continue to bring challenges. It will require us to demonstrate our commitment to the broader community by initiating change through our focus on innovation in order to solve problems for our tenants and the community, making BHA more sustainable and effective in years to come.”
The Association’s current convener, Andrew Watson, added: “Looking back over the 21 year timeline , it is very clear that BHA has always tried to its very best for its tenants and its staff since the beginning. Whilst many awards and accolades have been won, many initiatives run their course and many changes in the world in which we live and work, the organisation has maintained its focus on delivering its original mission of ‘delivering excellent and affordable housing and housing services for the people and communities of Berwickshire’.”