Mental health service for Borders tenants earns award shortlisting

BeWell, a mental health and wellbeing service that has improved the lives of housing association residents and helped 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 judges by responding to a decline in the mental health, living standards and wellbeing of tenants in Scottish Border areas.

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

SPA 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.”

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 reported an increase in confidence and self-management skills.

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 and a second phase was approved for 2022-2023, securing the project for an additional term. It is anticipated the service will be extended to other Borders housing associations, should there be demand for it in the future.