Future of BHA BeFriend service assured thanks to Lottery funding

Published on 3rd February 2021

Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) has been awarded £200,000 by The National Lottery Community Fund to support its very successful BeFriend project for the next three years.

Since its inception almost nine years ago, BHA’s BeFriend Project has grown from strength to strength and is now an invaluable service to the lonely and isolated. The existing funding had been secured until May 2021, at which point BHA would have been required to seek further financial support to sustain the service.

BHA BeFriend will use the funding to continue its befriending service for older people in Berwickshire and Kelso. The service will involve face to face and telephone befriending and a range of group activities. Both staff and volunteers will be involved in the delivery of BeFriend.  The project aims to enhance quality of life, tackle isolation and loneliness, improve wellbeing, promote independence and enable people to live longer in their own homes.

BHA’s BeFriend Project Co-ordinator Terri Bearhope, said: “I’m delighted to have this funding confirmed, and so is everyone else involved with BeFriend. It will mean so much to our volunteers and befriendees that we are able to continue the service for another three years.”

Freda, (aged 83) a befriendee from Kelso, hadn’t seen her family for months due to the pandemic and said she would have been lost without the support of BHA’s BeFriend service. She said: “They mean so much to me, they’re so kind and caring. If I didn’t have them I don’t know what I would do.”

Another added: “Since I was introduced to my befriender my mood has improved, I have learned new skills and really look forward to our chats/activities together.”

BHA’s Chief Executive Michelle Meldrum added: “This is fantastic news for everyone involved with BeFriend and I’d like to thank the ‘National Lottery Community Fund Scotland’ and BHA’s Board for their support to sustain this much needed service. The pandemic has exacerbated the impacts of loneliness and isolation and a service such as BeFriend is needed now more than ever.”

Hopefully for BHA BeFriend it will be back to service as usual very soon but in the meantime, please get in touch if you live in Berwickshire or Kelso and would like to join BHA BeFriend as either as a volunteer or as someone who needs a bit more company. You can reach them  on 01361 884000 or at befriend@berwickshirehousing.org.uk.

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