Breathing Space: An independent evaluation of Orbit’s mental health programme

Breathing Space is a mental health service run by Orbit. It was established in April 2017, with the purpose of supporting Orbit customers to achieve positive improvements in their mental health. The service arose from Orbit’s increasing awareness of the poor mental health of many customers, including many in general needs properties.

Orbit commissioned an independent evaluation to provide an assessment of how Breathing Space has been delivered in practice, its performance during the reporting period, and learning that can be applied to future tendering and service design to optimise impact. It found for older service users at of one Orbit sheltered housing schemes that the value of the service is more as a provider of group activity, and therefore companionship, than mental health support. However, these service users seemed to value the service equally, feeding back that they enjoyed the activity and looked forward to the social element of the group.

More generally, the report noted the following about Breathing Space:

  • It is filling local gaps in mental health provision, especially where access to services is patchy or over-capacity.
  • because of a lack of access to other mental health services, it supports people with higher needs than intended, but as adapted well to this.
  • Orbit’s partners value the range of support provided but this could be even more collaborative
  • Users of service user feedback was overwhelmingly positive and had positively impacted their lives, especially where previously they had been unable to get any.