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North Star welcomes residents of Darlington Housing Association - Find out more

Angela Lockwood

Chief Executive

It is important to Angela to lead by example and to be a role model for her employees. She works hard to keep North Star strong, but she ensures that she has a sensible work-life balance.

Having been employed by a large, national housing association for a number of years, Angela wanted to progress her career in housing but was keen to work with a smaller, community-based association that had a strong connection with her own personal values.

“North Star’s approach to, and its value of, people; its sense of community; its strong sense of social purpose and doing the right thing, all connected with me personally,” she explains.

She joined the business in 1996, when it was Endeavour, and spent 10 years as Director of Housing. Following a change in structure, Angela took on the role of Managing Director of one of the companies, then Deputy Chief Executive of the group, before taking up her current position with North Star, the parent company.

Her remit is wide-ranging, but, at its heart is a commitment to ensuring that all the staff are involved in providing good-quality, safe housing for their tenants; and fostering a strong sense of community.

“As Chief Executive, my job is to ensure that the strategies of the organisation are designed, developed, approved, and delivered,” Angela says. “That includes a whole range of things: building new homes for people who need them; ensuring that the quality of the existing stock is good and that we continue to invest in it; ensuring that all the services are of high quality and that our staff are looked after; ensuring that we have a good reputation and that we have influence in the region and nationally; making sure that we’re up to speed and up to date with everything that’s going on in the housing sector; taking up opportunities and creating partnerships when we need them, and doing a lot of community work so that people who live in our communities benefit from that.”

Not only is she closely involved in what is happening in the housing sector locally and regionally, but she is also part of an international housing partnership that includes the USA, Canada and Australia.

North Star’s staff are very important to its success and are actively involved in developing its vision for the future.

“We are highly collaborative; highly relational; highly trusting; flexible; agile; fluid; full of brilliant people who we value,” says Angela. “We do everything possible to grow people individually. The one budget that we never, ever cut back on is the people development and training budget.”

“The strategy is always done from the bottom up, so everyone is involved in its creation,” Angela says. “That’s the big thing this year – above and beyond everything else that we’re doing. That’ll keep us really strong going forward.”

Emma Speight

Executive Director of Assets and Growth

Emma confesses that she loves all things property and is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Perfect qualifications for her role as North Star’s Executive Director of Assets and Growth.

A chartered surveyor by profession, she was previously with a regional development agency in the north, until it closed ten years ago. She has used her extensive experience in property, and transferable skills in economic development and commercial asset management to make the transition to North Star.

Emma is responsible for developing new homes, exploring opportunities for growth, and maintaining and investing in over 4,000 home to keep them well maintained. She also leads on Health & Safety.
Emma and her team work closely with their tenants to ensure there is as little disruption as possible. “We’re very aware that it is their home, so there is a lot of engagement and consultation.”

It is also part of Emma’s remit to make properties more sustainable, and energy-efficient. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions from homes and ensure that energy and warmth is affordable.

North Star has vast experience of building supported housing units, including drug and alcohol, women’s refuges, learning disability, young person and older person schemes. Emma is incredibly passionate about working with partners and developing more supported accommodation.

“Overall, I am so proud that through our investment we make a positive difference to people and their communities.”

Carole Richardson

Director for People and Culture

Carole feels that she is a great example of a North Star ‘Grow Your Own’ employee. After joining in 1991 as the Supported Housing Manager, she worked her way through a range of different roles and is now part of the executive team.

Previously, she was with Middlesbrough Council for 11 years, managing their homelessness and housing advice service. Through her work, she was dealing with Housing Associations, and met Endeavour, as North Star was then.

“Over time, I came to understand that I wanted to have more influence to make change happen,” Carole says. “Of all the Housing Associations that I worked with, my values most aligned with North Star, so I waited for a post to become available, I applied and got the job.”

Her next role with North Star was in Business Development, and then Assistant Director of Housing. In her current role as Executive Director of People and Culture, Carole heads a small team that delivers organisational development training and HR-type support functions. Not only making sure that the company is legally safe and compliant, but by ensuring that they have really progressive people approaches and strategies. She also leads on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.

Along with the other directors, she is also charged with keeping North Star strong; ensuring they; develop more homes, provide a great workplace for staff; and deliver high-quality services to their customers.
“As my career has progressed, it’s been a joy to get the opportunities to do the things that I wanted to do, and to be asked to take on different challenges. And it’s what I want for others that work here.

Carole says that she wants North Star to continue to grow and develop as an employer. The staff are actively involved in the development of the culture and their inclusion in the vision for shaping its future means that they’re more invested in it, and committed to delivering it.

“98% of our staff say that their values are aligned with North Stars, which is phenomenally high. It’s a wonderful thing for all of us to be so involved, to be able to influence, to be doing a job that we love, and be part of something so worthwhile.”

James Walder

Executive Director of Finance & Business Support

Working in an environment that gave him the opportunity to be part of the decision-making process, to challenge himself, and take on roles he hadn’t done before, were some of the reasons that James joined North Star in 2019.

When James joined it was a group comprising four individual Housing Associations. One of his first projects was to work with the Board to simplify the structure of the Association, and its funding arrangements. “It was quite challenging at times,” he remembers, “but it meant that I was involved in every part of the project, from start to finish. It was a great experience and we delivered exactly what we wanted to.”

The Group Structure was collapsed to form one Housing Association-and the new, future-proofed funding allows North Star to develop more new homes.

James has always lived in Newcastle and is proud of his North East roots, but, until joining North Star, he had always worked in Newcastle. Having been in the social housing sector previously, he was aware of North Star having a strong reputation of punching above its weight, and he was keen to return to the sector in a role that allowed him to have more influence.

As well as managing the Finance, Digital and Data teams, James’ responsibilities include governance; procurement; insurance; risk; GDPR; and he is the Company Secretary.

North Star holds the Investors in People Platinum award, and James knew that there would be opportunities for him to personally develop in the company.

“Being somewhere that is really focused on staff development means that I’m getting the chance to stretch and challenge myself, and I’m picking up new skills and experiences.”

Adam Clark

Executive Director of Customers.

Adam feels that It is rare to find somewhere with values that match so well with your own. So when he saw the opportunity to become part of North Star, he went for it.

Adam joined North Star in 2019 in his first executive role, drawing on ten years experience with Broadland Housing Association in Norfolk, where he was Assistant Director for Housing. Originally from Bradford, he was keen to return to the north, so was delighted when the opportunity arose to join North Star.

Responsible for around 60 people, delivering services to customers, communities and in supported housing, Adam's role has the customer firmly at its heart. He says “It’s vital, especially in the current climate, that we listen to what our customers are saying, we take on board their feedback and act on this to inform our future strategies. It’s about making sure that we are accountable to our customers.”

Adam is part of the executive team, working to ensure that North Star is governed effectively and meeting all the regulatory requirements that are expected of North Star as a reliable and responsible landlord.
Post-pandemic, Adam’s week is a mixture of working from home, and in the office where colleagues can catch up and convene. He says “Like many businesses, we had to work remotely during various lockdowns. In this regard, developing more flexibility and options for work and the delivery of great services, the pandemic was a real catalyst for change. However, none of that is a replacement for being in ‘the room’ with people. That’s where the gold is. So, it’s great that we’re able to work in a hybrid way that incorporates the best of all of this. “

“We know there are significant challenges ahead for our customers. We remain resolutely focused on putting the needs of customers first and we’re confident with the quality, focus and commitment of our staff team we will meet these challenges.”

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