Brighton Housing Trust in merger talks with mental health service

Andy Winter, BHT, and Philippa Thompson, Sussex Oakleaf
Andy Winter, BHT, and Philippa Thompson, Sussex Oakleaf

A Brighton homeless charity could be set to merge with a mental health service in West Sussex.

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) said it is in talks with Sussex Oakleaf about a possible merger, which if approved, would take place in April 2020.

It said the move would allow the charities to ‘extend services for clients and tenants, strengthen and protect their joint financial position into the future, and to increase opportunities for further growth’.

Andy Winter, chief executive of BHT, said: “We were delighted when approached by Sussex Oakleaf regarding a possible merger. It makes complete sense to come together in the interests of our tenants and clients, our financial wellbeing, and our ability to grow in the future. Frontline services will not be affected by this merger and we will be building a new management structure which will reflect our joint strengths.”

Philippa Thompson, chief executive of Sussex Oakleaf, said: “We have for many years enjoyed a close relationship with BHT, working to provide training for our staff teams, attending each other’s conferences and, most recently, collaborating on various projects. It became increasingly apparent that there is an exceptionally good cultural fit, and this has been evolving further over the last six months.”

Sussex Oakleaf provides support services to people with mental health needs, those with a personality disorder and individuals at risk of homelessness It aims to promote independence by providing recovery focused community wellbeing services, residential care, peer mentoring, housing support and volunteering opportunities.

Brighton Housing Trust is best known for its work around homelessness but it also provides care and support services, homes, advice and legal representation.

Graham Maunders, chair of Sussex Oakleaf, said: “We are very excited about the prospect of working more closely with Brighton Housing Trust to improve our offer to clients. We have had a close relationship with them over many years. We are two organisations with very similar values, and we feel that we complement each other well.”

Joan Mortimer, the chair of BHT, said: “By bringing the two organisations together we will become stronger than the sum of our two parts. At the heart of our considerations are the tenants and clients of the two organisations. There is clear evidence that this is a win-win situation for them, benefiting from the combined strengths of both Sussex Oakleaf and of BHT.”

A consultation on the merger is set to take place over the coming months, with a decision being taken by the Boards of the two organisations in June.