We believe in Helping people. And that begins with Housing people.

Having a place you can call home is everything. At Bernicia, what we do best is provide homes to those who really need one the most.

We’re a highly respected organisation, providing and maintaining quality and affordable homes, and delivering a range of exceptional services for people in the North East. For over 50 years, we’ve earned a reputation as one of the country’s leading housing providers.

We’re dedicated to helping the people of the North East by seeing the bigger picture, but focusing on the little things that can mean the world. Whatever circumstance, whatever situation, we can give people the confidence, independence and support they need to get on with their lives.

By having the willingness to help one person, we can enhance a community and ultimately, help transform our region.

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 as well as over 40 years’ experience working in the public, private and charitable sectors.

Directorates: Board member of the Ouseburn Trust Charitable Trust, Independent Governor of
Northumberland College Local Board

Ann Tarn
Board Member
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Ann joined the Board in 2015 having previously been a co-optee. She is the Chair of the Remuneration, Resources and Appointments Committee.
Ann has a background in nursing and worked on the Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit.
Ann is an Employment Tribunal Panel member, specifically experience 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 currently deputy Chair of Bernicia and is Chair of the Commercial Board.
Andrew owns his own consultancy practice, covering Human Resources and Health and Safety services.
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.

Directorates: Bertin Limited

Xerxes Setna
Board Member
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Xerxes jointed the board in 2015 having previously been a co-optee.
He is a member of the Audit and Risk Committee. Xerxes has a BA in Business Studies and Marketing.
He has significant experience in communications and marketing for a broad range of employers including those within the housing sector, leisure industry and the NHS.
His professional experience includes establishing communication functions, stakeholder engagement and strategic planning.
Xerxes’ current role is Strategic Lead – Research, Insight and Communications for a North East charity, Tyne & Wear Sport.

David Jennings
Board Member
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David joined the Board in 2018 having previously been a co-optee. He is Chairman of the Bernicia Audit and Risk Committee.
David is a Chartered Accountant, and also Chairman of the Audit Committee and Board Member at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
He has a successful track record in accountancy, audit and strategic financial management, as well as service and corporate governance inspection.
He worked until 2017 as deputy chief finance officer at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, and previously as a consultant and for 27 years for the Audit Commission.
David holds a number of trustee and non-executive roles including Audit chair Tees Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (to 8/20), Board Chair AuditOne NHS internal audit consortium, and Co-opted member Northumbria University Audit Committee.

Claire-Jane Rewcastle
Board Member
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Claire-Jane joined the Board in 2018 and is also a member of the Remuneration, Resources and Appointments Committee.
Claire-Jane was formerly a partner with Bond Dickinson, specialising in Employment Law and working predominantly with clients in the charitable, education and social housing sectors.
Claire-Jane has previous Board experience and, in addition to being a Board Member at Bernicia, serves as a Governor as Gateshead College.

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.
She Chair’s Bernicia’s Customer Services Committee.
Other Board Memberships/Directorates: Board member and Chair of Northumberland Federation of YMCA’s, Trustee of the Bernicia Foundation.

Alan Dunn
Board Member
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Alan joined the Board in 2019 and is also a member of the Investment Committee.
Alan was a Chartered Surveyor and Project Manager having recently retired as a Director of Hall & Partners.
He brings a wealth of development and asset skills and experience working for both public and private clients across the region and nationally.

Lynn Shearing
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Lynn Shearing joined the Board as a co-optee in 2019. Lynn also sits on the Commercial Board.
Lynn is a qualified chartered accountant currently working for Womble Bond Dickinson as Client Relationship Director within the Corporate Team.
She brings a wealth of finance and commercial skills having over 20 years of experience in working with Big 4 and blue chip organisations including previous roles with Greggs, Parkdean Resorts and PwC.

Our Executive Management Team:

John Johnston
Chief Executive

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Janette Longstaff
ED Finance

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Michael Farr
ED Assets and Growth

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Andrea Malcom
ED People, Homes & Communities
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Regulator of Social Housing

Bernicia is regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH).

The RSH regulates registered providers of social housing, to promote a viable, efficient and well governed sector delivering homes that meet people’s needs.

It sets specific standards all registered providers must meet, including how the business is run, how we manage risk, and how we maintain financial viability and ensure value for money alongside the services we provide directly to customers.

We’re currently rated at Governance 1 Viability 1, which is the highest rating.

Housing Ombudsman Service

The Housing Ombudsman Service is a free, independent and impartial service dealing with disputes involving tenants and leaseholders of housing associations and local authorities who are registered with it.

We welcome the publication of the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code which provides us with structure and guidance to ensure that making a complaint is easy and accessible and that we listen and respond to what you tell us.

As part of Housing Ombudsman’s requirements, we must self-assess our complaints service against the Complaint Handling Code. You can read our self-assessment here

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.

The Bernicia Foundation

We are inspired daily by the creativity and determination of people across our region to support one another, and we want to do all that we can to help.

The Bernicia Foundation has been created to support projects and initiatives that deliver real and lasting community benefits, and to help inspirational young people realise their potential.

With a total focus on the North East, Bernicia invests its skills, insight and financial capacity to leverage greater equality of opportunity for the proud and passionate people of our region.

As a community focussed organisation Bernicia already deliver a range of initiatives that:

  • support people to retain their independence, through social and financial inclusion initiatives
  • encourage our tenants into training, volunteering and employment opportunities
  • help new entrants to the workplace develop the skills and experience they need to succeed

The creation of The Bernicia Foundation significantly adds to our investment in communities, with the pledged of £1m additional funding for The Bernicia Foundation, to support communities at a time when arguably they need it most.

The Foundation is a new channel through which we will award grants and bursaries to individuals and organisations committed to delivering real community benefits, such as tackling loneliness, accessing employment opportunities or supporting young talent to flourish.

Through our Inclusion and Inspiration priority investment streams we will support initiatives for people to develop the skills and self-belief to thrive, activities that encourage people to enjoy life to the full, or provide a helping hand to give them a boost towards fulfilling their potential.

To learn more about The Bernicia Foundation, please go to www.berniciafoundation.com

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.

Here is Bernicia’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy 

Gender Pay Gap

Following the amalgamation of our group structure, we are now required to publish various details relevant to our gender pay gap.  Our gender pay statement is detailed here:

Bernicia Gender Pay Gap 2020

Bernicia Gender Pay Gap 2019

Bernicia Gender Pay Gap 2018

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 2021