Berwickshire Housing Association receives £78,000 to improve digital inclusion

Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) has secured £78,000 from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund to help small community-based groups deliver activities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Kevin McRoberts
Monday, 29th June 2020, 7:00 am
A BHA Digital Champion helps a tenant with their digital skills.
A BHA Digital Champion helps a tenant with their digital skills.

The Supporting Communities Fund provides financial support targeted through community organisations, working in partnership with others in the community and with public services, in co-ordinating local responses to the pandemic.

The support of Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the representative organisation for Scotland’s Housing Association sector, was crucial in securing the funding for BHA.

BHA will coordinate the funding to support digital inclusion, including a ‘lending library’ of digital devices, an expanded community initiatives programme and increased access to specialised mental health support.

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The association will coordinate and disseminate this funding in partnership with community groups to increase support options for all.

Dan Blake, operations director for Berwickshire Housing Association, said: “BHA will ensure the Supporting Communities fund is used effectively across Berwickshire.

“We will work with our dedicated local community partners to support as many people as possible during these challenging times.

“We are grateful to the Scottish Government for their confidence in our ability to do this and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations who supported and guided our application from the outset.”

Since the introduction of lockdown measures it was quickly recognised that isolation and loneliness was affecting many people.

This has accelerated BHA’s goal to increase access to digital communication and support people in how to use digital devices.

BHA ‘Digital Champions’ will now extend their work with community partners to help others, including BHA tenants, communicate with family and friends during these difficult and challenging times.

Dougie Paterson, BHA’s community initiatives manage, added: “This new funding is especially welcome at a time when some people feel very disconnected from their family, friends and social networks.

“We are excited to work with a range of local partners to help people reconnect with others, including new options to do this digitally.”