Mental health service for Borders tenants are finalists at GO Awards

BeWell, a specialised mental health and wellbeing service that has improved the lives of 30 at-risk housing association residents and has cut eviction rates, became a finalist of the Social Value Award at this year’s GO Awards Scotland.

Public sector construction framework provider Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA) part-funded the scheme through its Community Benefit Fund, which is managed by Lintel Trust. It caught the eye of GO Scotland judges by responding to a disconcerting decline in the mental health, living standards and wellbeing of tenants in Scottish Border areas.

BeWell is run by national mental health support organisation Penumbra on behalf of Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA). It supports at-risk tenants aged 16 and upwards with their mental health and wellbeing needs by providing community-based early intervention services in the community. Its aim is to help tenants feel more able to manage their tenancy.

Commenting on the BeWell project, SPA’s director Lesley Anderson said:

“This nomination is recognition for a fantastic scheme that is improving the lives of those most in need of mental health support who were otherwise at risk of losing their homes. We are excited to continue supporting the project next year following the pilot phase.

“When BHA approached us, poor mental health and lack of support were some of the biggest challenges affecting their tenants. It’s exactly the kind of support our Community Benefit Fund was designed for and we are so pleased the funding is making a real difference to tenants’ mental health while ensuring they are able to keep a roof over their heads.”

The need for support was first identified as rural Berwickshire suffered from sparse community mental health services, with rising thresholds in accessing statutory mental health services meaning only the most serious mental health conditions were being treated and others were left until crisis point. This increases the risks of tenants disengaging, losing benefits, and accruing rent arrears which could ultimately lead to eviction.

Of the 30 tenant referrals to BeWell during the pilot phase, 29 were referred within seven days. There were no evictions for participating tenants and a significant reduction in rent arrears. 19 participants remain engaged, and all 30 participants reported an increase in confidence and self-management skills. BeWell also resulted in an estimated cost saving of around £35k in legal costs by preventing five future evictions

Michelle Meldrum, Chief Executive, Berwickshire Housing Association added:

"At BHA, we aim to support people to live well at home. The BeWell service is a partnership between BHA and Penumbra, a national mental health support organisation. This tenancy support service enables customers who have mental health and wellbeing support needs, to access specialist help in a timely manner. Tailored to each individual's needs, it supports people on their personal journey to better mental health, wellbeing and recovery. It is such an important intervention especially in the current climate. We are very grateful to the SPA and Lintel trust, in helping us make a difference, with their steadfast support to the BeWell service.”

The pilot phase for BeWell was completed in April 2022 and a second phase was approved for 2022-2023, securing the project for an additional term. SPA and Lintel Trust will continue to support the project for as long as necessary. It is also anticipated that the service will be extended to other Borders housing associations, should there be demand for it in the future.

SPA is part of the LHC Group, which has been supporting public sector organisations with technical procurement for over 50 years.

After consultation with a range of stakeholders, the Scottish Procurement Alliance was formed and officially launched in March 2016. SPA is now the largest, free-to-join procurement organisation representing over 100 public sector organisations throughout Scotland, ranging from small co-operatives, to regional and national RSLs and local authorities.

The SPA’s Community Benefit Fund offers an annual £140,000 to support community projects. The fund supports vital projects across Scotland. In partnership with SPA, management of the fund is administered by Lintel Trust, an independent Scottish charity with a 44-year history committed to supporting social housing communities.

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