National Lottery awards £175,000 to fund BHA BeFriend for the next three years

Published on 26th March 2024

Duns, Berwickshire, 26 March 2024

National Lottery awards £175,000 to fund BHA BeFriend for the next three years

Over the past 11 years, BHA’s BeFriend service has played an instrumental role in the lives of lonely and isolated people living in Berwickshire and Kelso. Providing face-to-face, group, telephone and dementia friendly befriending, the service has benefited more than 300 older people and helped improve their confidence in living independently and increased their ability to socialise within their local communities.

The additional funding boost of £175,000 over the next three years from the National Lottery’s “Improving Lives” grant will see the service delivered by four part-time BHA employees with support from volunteers. The funding means the service will continue to reach out and support people aged 65 and over who are facing loneliness, ill-health or reduced mobility, to integrate with the community they live in.

The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still said,

“Every day National Lottery funding is changing the lives of thousands of people in communities across Scotland for the better. This project delivered by Berwickshire Housing Association, is a great example of community activity in action, showing just what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause or to help others. National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is helping to support this vital work which is making a real difference to so many.”

Over the last year, BHA BeFriend has also embarked on creating greater awareness for Dementia. Kerry Hague, who has been with BHA BeFriend for nine years and is BHA’s new BeFriend Coordinator shares:

“In addition to supporting those with dementia, there’s a lot more we can do to support the wider community to better understand how to identify dementia in the first place and have more knowledge and information about the support available in the community. We are working towards training volunteers to be more dementia aware so that we can provide a more holistic support service for those who are affected by it.”

BHA’s Chief Executive Michelle Meldrum said:

“BHA BeFriend has proven to be an invaluable service to many older people living in Berwickshire and Kelso. We are grateful to the National Lottery Fund for sustaining the funding for another three years, enabling BHA to continue to make a positive difference throughout our rural communities”.

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