Two Sussex charities working on mental health and homelessness in merger talks

Andy Winter of Brighton Housing Trust and Phillipa Thompson of Sussex Oakleaf
Andy Winter of Brighton Housing Trust and Phillipa Thompson of Sussex Oakleaf

A homeless charity could be set to join up with a mental health service Sussex if merger talks are successful.

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT), a housing and homeless charity covering Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings, said it is in talks with Sussex Oakleaf about a possible merger.

If approved, the charities would merge in April 2020.

BHT 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.