Amesbury resident helps to bring customer experience to the board

An Amesbury resident, customer and employee of local housing association Aster Group, has been given the opportunity to join a Board Trainee Programme at the organisation. The Programme aims to nurture a diverse culture which reflects its customers and communities.

Karen Gregory, a Training Officer at Aster, was successful in her application to be a part of the two-year Board Trainee Programme in partnership with the Housing Diversity Network. As well as encouraging diversity at board level, the programme was designed to encourage participants to share their own experiences to help shape the direction of the business and policies the organisation works to.

Those interested in applying for the programme went through a selection and interview process. Karen impressed the team with her passion for social housing and desire to make a difference in the sector.  

Karen, who is also chair of Asters’ Customer Overview Group and part of the Social Housing Quality Resident Panel set up by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, will have the opportunity to shadow board members and participate in sessions with the ongoing support of an experienced board mentor.

Karen said: “I applied to join the Trainee Programme to learn how and why decisions are made. I’m hoping my experience as a customer and member of a resident panel will add another perspective to discussions. The hope is to develop my knowledge and understanding with a view to joining a housing association board on completion of the course.”

Kathryn Jones, Aster Diversity and Inclusion Lead, said: “We are always looking for new ways to make sure we deliver services as accessible and inclusive as possible, and shaped in a way that reflects the diverse communities we serve. Traditionally, boards have been seen to be closed groups and we want to challenge that. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people such as Karen to influence how we do things and bring her experience to the table.”

Rachel Credidio, Aster Chief Transformation Officer, said: “To help us continue to transform and modernise our services, we’re focused on nurturing an even more open, diverse and inclusive culture that brings different perspectives together. This will enable us to create a better and fairer environment for our customers and colleagues. Karen will bring so much to this programme due to her experience in and outside the business.”

Aster was recently awarded Disability Confident Leader status and won Best Support Group in the industry-recognised Menopause Friendly Employer Awards. It has also launched its diversity and inclusion principles and introduced neurodiversity and leader training programmes. It’s LGBTQ+, gender, race and heritage, disability confident and carers colleague networks provide supportive spaces for employees and are critical to inform future plans for the Group.  

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