As a Group we build, rent, sell and manage homes, provide estate and facilities management and specialist care and support services to over 60,000 customers. We will be investing £140 million in new and existing homes in the forthcoming years.

As a significant regional business Bernicia is ideally placed to assist with the delivery of the strategic vision for the North East, and in doing so deliver positive outcomes for tenants, customers and stakeholders.

We own and manage 14,000 properties and are developing new homes across a range of property types and tenures. We provide housing services for single people, couples, families, and older people and care and support for those with additional support requirements.

Whilst predominantly a social landlord, we have successful trading subsidiaries that provide high quality block and facilities management. Our commercial subsidiaries gift aid their surplus back to Bernicia, which is used to increase the social value we are able to deliver.

Our high standards and values from which we will not waiver, underpin the way that we do business. We value our customers, work together, respect each other, and have the highest levels of accountability and integrity.  We deliver what we say we will do, something which our tenants, customers and partners can rely upon.

In summary we are a North East Housing Association that provides great homes and services.

Bernicia Group Overview


We deliver all our social housing activities through our 4 principal offices in Berwick, Ashington, Newcastle and Durham with consistent ways to access services for all; delivering on our pledge to staff and tenants to build on our strength, resources and skills.

The Bernicia Group is governed by a single board, chaired by John Holmes. John is supported by professional and skilled Board members who bring a wealth of expertise and experience to direct and oversee the success of Bernicia.

Our Board Members:

John Holmes
Chairman of Bernicia
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John became Chair of Bernicia in October 2018, having joined the Board in 2017. John has experience across various sectors, which include all aspects of property and facilities management, business planning and development, residential and commercial property management, tourism and heritage promotion and delivery. John has extensive experience in both executive and non-executive roles.

Ann Tarn
Board Member
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Ann joined the Board in 2015 having previously been a co-optee. She is a member of the Audit Committee. Ann has a background in nursing and worked on the Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit. Ann is an Employment Tribunal Panel member, specifically experienced on Disability Discrimination, Employment and Criminal Law. Her work has always had a strong community connection and she sees her role at Bernicia as an opportunity to strengthen this.

Andrew Pegg
Board Member
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Andrew joined the Board in 2016 following the merger with Four Housing where he had been a Board member since 2014. He is Chair of the Remuneration, Resources & Appointments Committee and sits on the Commercial Board and the Health & Safety Panel. Andrew owns his own Consultancy practice, covering Human Resources and Health & Safety services for small to medium sized businesses. Previous to this he spent 24 years working as HR & Safety Director and Company Secretary for a regional housing developer. Andrew has also been a Board member of Owton and Rossmere Partnership.

Tom Stevenson
Board Member
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Tom joined the Board in 2012. He chairs the Audit Committee. As a Chartered Accountant, Tom has significant experience as a Finance Director in the social housing sector and at Scottish Homes. Tom is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, has an MBA from the University of Strathclyde and an MA Honours in Economics and Economic Statistics from the University of Glasgow. Tom was a lay member of Governance and Audit at the Clinical Commissioning Group for North Durham (chairing the Risk and Audit Committee) and also a member of the organisation’s Finance and Performance committee.

Keith Riddell
Board Member
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Keith joined the board in 2010. He is the board representative on Bernicia’s Equality & Diversity Panel. Keith’s background is in Mental Health Services. He is a Registered Nurse and held various front line and senior management positions within the NHS. Keith still works part time (post retirement) within a Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust focussing on compliance with standards and regulation. Keith is Bernicia board champion for Equality and Diversity.

Xerxes Setna
Board Member
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Xerxes joined the board in 2015 having previously been a co-optee. He is a member of the Remuneration, Recourses & Appointments Committee. Xerxes has a BA in Business Studies & Marketing and is and active CIPR member. He has significant experience in communications, PR and marketing, within the private, not for profit sector and the NHS sectors. His professional experience includes establishing communication functions and strategic planning. Xerxes’ current role is as Assistant Director – Communications and Information at Tyne & Wear Sport.

Lisa Charles-Jones
Board Member
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Lisa joined the board in 2017 having previously been a co-optee. She is a member of the Remuneration, Resources & Appointments Committee. Lisa Charles-Jones has extensive HR and Board level experience in both an executive and non-executive capacity with a background in the residential property services market. She holds broad commercial knowledge and is an active contributor to general business strategy and operational initiatives. Lisa also holds wide experience in company restructuring with strong understanding of employment law.

David Jennings
Board Member
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David joined the board as a co-optee in 2017 as part of the Group’s Board succession planning. He is a member of the Audit Committee. David is a Chartered Accountant currently employed as Financial Services Manager and Deputy S151 officer at Redcar and Cleveland Council. He has a successful track record in accountancy, audit and strategic financial management working previously as a consultant and for the Audit Commission. David has held a number of non-executive roles including at the NHS Foundation Trust and a University.

Claire-Jane Rewcastle
Board Member
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Claire-Jane joined the Board in 2018. Claire was formerly a partner with Bond Dickinson, specialising in Employment Law. During her legal career she specialised in the charitable, education and social housing sectors. Claire also has previous non-executive board experience.

Avril Gibson
Board Member
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Avril joined the Board in 2018 having recently retired as Chief Executive of The Northern Learning Trust and has considerable knowledge of the voluntary sector and community development. Avril is also a board member of Northumberland Federation of YMCA’s and has served as both Chair and Vice-Chair.

Marie Roe
Board Member
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Marie joined the Board in 2018. She has extensive experience of the social housing sector at an executive management level and has led a number of significant transformation projects. Marie has also held a number non-executive roles throughout the region

Our Executive Management Team:

John Johnston
Chief Executive

Mike Axe
Executive Director,

David Pickard
Executive Director,
Customer Services

Michael Farr
Executive Director,
Assets and Growth

It is 10 years since the creation of the Bernicia Group, and we can now look back with a sense of pride in what has been achieved.

Through the investments we have made, homes and neighbourhoods have been improved and communities strengthened, services have been transformed and many valued partnerships have been developed. The success of our work is evidenced by the consistently high customer satisfaction levels achieved. We recognise that none of these achievements would have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the Board, staff and our involved tenants, who have worked tirelessly to create the company that Bernicia has become.

Whilst we can reflect on the past our Housing People, Helping People strategy is about the future. Our strategy is ambitious – Bernicia is to build more new homes, further improve services and how they are delivered, continue to invest in our existing properties and develop our commercial companies and in-house maintenance provider.

You can find out more about Benicia and what we will achieve in our Housing People, Helping People strategy below:

Underpinning everything we do is our vision, mission and values.

Vision – Housing People, Helping People:

We believe a good home makes lots of other things possible, so we provide great homes and services that do just that.  We are “housing people” – professional and passionate about what we do.

Mission – Investing in homes, services and people to make a positive impact on the communities of the North East:

We will invest to provide quality new and existing homes, in the provision of services that respond to our tenants, customers and market place requirements, and in our people and the communities within which we operate.  We will invest in the North East.

Our Values – The Bernicia Way:

We value our customers, work together, respect each other and have the highest levels of accountability and integrity.  We deliver what we say we will do, something that our tenants, customers and partners can rely upon.

Equality and diversity for us is not just about meeting legal and regulatory requirements, its’ fundamental to the way we deliver our services and perform as an employer.

We provide and promote equality for all employees and the wider community, irrespective of colour, race, religion, ethnicity, family status, gender, age, disability or sexuality. We have developed a proactive approach to create an environment where people are treated as individuals, fairly and with dignity and respect, which is thoroughly embedded within our culture, and externally accredited.

Policy Statement
Bernicia Group aims to treat all people fairly and with respect. We are committed to the promotion of equal opportunity and the elimination of unfair and unlawful discrimination.

We recognise that many groups and individuals may experience disadvantage because of their race, religion, ethnic origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

We believe that, as an employer and a social landlord, we have a role to play in tackling such disadvantage.

We aim to provide accessible services in ways that are fair and accountable. We also aim to meet the needs of applicants and residents in as fair a way as possible and in so doing welcome and value the diversity of the communities that we serve.

Our vision is to be an organisation whose commitment to equality and diversity is shown not only by the fine words used in policy documents, but is also evident in the great variety of the make up of our people – board members, staff, residents, stakeholders and partners, and in the inclusive nature of our culture and practices and the face it shows to the world.

Group policies have been devised in accordance with existing legislation and codes of practice. We recognise the importance of working to legislation, but to demonstrate true commitment to diversity and equality, this policy and our working practices should go beyond legislation.

Single Equality Scheme, please download the full PDF version here

If you have any queries, please contact the Learning & Development Manager Sue Harding-Smith on 0344 800 3800.

The introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 aligns with Bernicia’s values and in particular our commitment to Integrity; building trust through open, honest, ethical behaviour, acting with respect for others and behaving as responsible members of local communities.

Slavery is defined as “where ownership is exercised over a person; servitude involves the obligation to provide services imposed by coercion; forced or compulsory labour involves work or service exacted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered themselves voluntarily”.  Human trafficking concerns arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploiting them.

We have produced a statement which summarises our approach over the last  year to mitigate the risks of modern slavery in our business and to set out the actions we intend to take going forward. Our Equality and Diversity Panel will monitor progress on these objectives.

Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement September 2018