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A NORTH East housing association has been honoured for its commitment to promoting diversity and equal opportunities.

North Star Housing Group was named ‘Apprentice Organisation of the Year’ at this year’s Tees Valley BME Achievement Awards ceremony, held at Jury’s Inn, in Middlesbrough.

The award recognises the association’s leading role in a partnership – developed with the Housing Diversity Network and fellow housing associations Beyond, Gentoo, and Thirteen Group – to nurture the board members of the future.
In September, North Star appointed four trainees, from groups that are under-represented at board level, as part of its ‘Board Apprenticeship Programme’.

The two-year programme is the first of its kind to be delivered in the North East.

North Star’s chief executive, Angela Lockwood, said: “The investment we have made in appointing these four new trainees from under-represented groups is a reflection of the importance we place on increasing diversity in the boardroom, and we are delighted to accept this award on behalf of the partnership.”

Applications for the trainee roles were encouraged from people whose ethnicity is under-represented, along with women, and young people.

In all, 12 apprentices are taking part in the programme, and they will receive comprehensive training, shadow local boards, and be supported by a mentor. The Tees Valley BME Achievement Awards recognise organisations that promote equality of opportunity, as well as the contribution diverse, black, Asian and minority ethnic communities make to the Tees Valley.

It is the latest in a series of awards to be won this year by North Star. In September, it was named UK Employer of the Year at an event organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing. That was followed last week by being named by Investors in People as the UK Platinum Employer of the Year, and highly commended in the Landlord of the Year category in the UK Housing Awards in London.

North Star is a not-for-profit housing association employing 100 people directly, along with many more indirectly. The group manages 4,000 houses and flats in the North East, as well as five women’s refuges, and other support programmes for vulnerable people.