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Equality North East

2015 North East Equality Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists this year.

Another difficult time for the Judges who could not decide between the Groups Making a Difference and had joint winners. This shows the commendable work being carried out in our region to ensure a fair and diverse place of work, learning and leisure. Well done to the following winners:-

Paul Watson

  • Award for Organisations of upto 50, sponsored by E-Quality Systems

  • Paul J Watson Solicitors

    After making a consistent effort to put equality and diversity at the head of everything they do, Paul J Watson Solicitor have attracted and retained vital staff members, built links with the local organisations, expanded their client base to include marginalised group and have gained a good reputation for doing more than the minimum.

    Furthermore, they have supported groups that desperately need it, such as refugees, asylum seekers and kinship carers and have spoken out against racism and Islamophobia. As one client said, Excellent service, Mr Watson and all his staff care about their clients and go above and beyond, so glad I contacted them for help.’

    An organisation which has gone way above and beyond.


  • Award for Organisations of between 51 and 250 Staff, sponsored by Cestria Community Housing Association Limited

  • Muckle LLP

    Muckle LLP is the leading law firm in the North East for businesses and those who own, invest in, fund and run them. In a competitive world, it is increasingly important for people to stand out from the crowd. Giving young people, and those who might be disadvantaged in gaining employment, the opportunity to experience life in a law firm, as well as supporting them to develop their employability skills, makes them more employable. At the same time it helps Muckle to attract future talent and maintain an inclusive workplace.

    A great organisation carrying out some good equality and diversity practice.

    Building Futures

  • Award for Learning Providers of up to 50 Staff, sponsored by Newcastle College

  • Building Futures East

    Building Futures East offer a range of employment, vocational and personal development training and work experience opportunities to individuals from the disadvantaged communities in Newcastle and across the sub-region. These opportunities are delivered in a range of community venues and from their base on Walker Riverside in the East End of Newcastle.

    They also run a social enterprise offering environmental maintenance services in the North East, providing apprenticeship training and employment opportunities to young people from deprived wards.

    Some commendable outcomes.

    Middlesbrough College

  • Award for Colleges and Learning Providers of over 50 Staff, sponsored by ConNEcting for Change

  • Middlesbrough College

    Everything from key religious dates to antibullying awareness days are always high on the agenda. Inclusion is a key aspect of the culture at Middlesbrough College and the aim is to encourage acceptance and understanding. The College, at every opportunity encourages its students, staff and wider community to recognise and embrace the diverse culture in the wider community. They are continually striving to keep inclusion the key aspect of their culture and aiming to encourage acceptance, understanding and respect for everyone.

    A more unusual approach to engaging with the community in which they operate.

    Northumbria CRC

  • Award for Larger Organisation Making a Difference in the Community, sponsored by Bernicia Group Ltd

  • Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company

    In recognition of the specific barriers for LGBT employees across all sectors, a conference was held which considered those protected characteristics which can also be linked to LGBT. During the conference workshops were held to discuss the issues and barriers which occur. Using age as an example, discussions highlighted that LGB employees in the youngest and oldest age groups are less likely to be out to colleagues than gay people aged 30 to 50. The group then began to identify LGBT stereotypes and barriers associated with age and discussed actions which could be taken to remove the barriers. This was fed back to all delegates with the aim of further developing these findings and taking action to address them.

    The LGBT multiple identity event provided an innovative approach to improving the workplace for staff from an LGBT background. In doing so, the company has contributed to a much greater understanding amongst its staff and partner agencies, and formed better links between agencies to tackle LGBT discrimination.

    Actions speak louder than words as this organisation realised.

    Emma Jones

  • Award for Individuals Who Have Made a Difference, sponsored by Muckle LLP

  • Emma Jones

    Emma works as a corporate officer at Big Lottery Fund and helps develop the funding programmes, writes guidance for staff and applicants and updates the in-house web pages. She is also Branch Equalities Officer and a workplace representative with Unite the Union.

    Emma is proud to have been active in getting people to see things from a different perspective, building equality in instead of bolting it on - particularly in the arena of hidden disability and especially in providing mental health support. It’s the way people consider the impacts of their decisions now, instead of assuming it’s someone else’s job. She enjoys the challenge of finding alternative and multiuse reasonable adjustments that benefit the individual as well as the business and as a result has helped a number of people to remain in work, or successfully return to work.

    This person has gone way above and beyond their role and continues to do so.

    Special Olympics & Jet

  • Award for Groups Who Have Made a Difference, sponsored by Gateshead College Foundation

  • Truly inspirational applications from such diverse groups. However, there can only be one winner or can there?.....

    Special Olympics Gateshead & JET Women’s Integration Support Programme

    Special Olympics Gateshead

    Special Olympics Gateshead provides people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health conditions with weekly sporting training and the opportunity to participate in competitions.

    The oath of the Special Olympics programme is ‘Let me win, but, if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt’. The emphasis is on participation rather than performance, enabling everyone to participate with people of the same ability. Special Olympics Gateshead has united people with disabilities in an environment of equality, respect and freedom of action. Significantly the sporting club has increased understanding of the capabilities of people with disabilities across the community, promoting acceptance and inclusion. Special Olympics Gateshead is certainly going places, being a catalytic force in changing people’s lives

    JET Women’s Integration Support Programme

    JET’s Women Integration Support Programme is for BME women who are new to the UK. It consists of a specialised service which takes into consideration the particular needs of these women, offering them confidential advice, activities to socialise and to gain confidence and awareness about a wide range of aspects of life in their new community. 251 ethnic minority women, newly arrived to the UK have been supported and 15 are now working on building a programme of their own, to support women in similar circumstances, supporting community cohesion, family life and cultural understanding. This will make a huge difference to not only the women but also their children and extended families.


  • The TUC~unionlearn Award, sponsored by TUC~unionlearn

  • Hazel Kjebekk, Union Learning Representative

    With quiet persistence and persuasion, Hazel has engaged staff from disadvantaged or hard to reach groups who would not otherwise have had or taken the opportunity to learn and develop. The benefits are not only the personal development of the individual, in terms of knowledge, confidence and achievement but a better understanding of the Trust’s aims and vision and how their role contributes ultimately to the goal of patient care and safety. Staff who are more engaged are more productive, more creative in their approach to problem solving and changing ways of working and have developed a greater understanding of equality both within and outside the workplace.

    Positive outcomes which include encouraging staff who have few learning opportunities to take the leap.


  • Award for Organisations Supporting Disabled People into Employment, sponsored by Accenture

  • Gateshead Access to Employment Service (GATES)

    GATES is a Supported Employment service provided by Gateshead Council. GATES follows the true principles of Supported Employment that everyone can work, in the right job, with the right support.

    GATES has found paid, permanent employment for 23 individuals with complex and significant learning and/or physical disabilities, Autism or mental health problems. Last year GATES engaged with over 200 businesses, promoting the benefits of employing people with disabilities to enrich and add value to the workplace.

    This organisation really is helping to make a difference for people with disabilities.

    Middlesbrough College students

  • Award for Outstanding Practice, sponsored by Gateshead College

  • Middlesbrough College Student Engagement Officers

    A student identified as at risk, had nowhere to stay, was unkempt in appearance, very vulnerable and at risk of being exploited or groomed. However, her attendance on the course was good which highlighted the fact she had nowhere else she could be during the day. The SEO team helped her organise safe housing and offered screening for STD’s. The student wanted to become a Mobile Hairdresser so with the assistance of the SEO’s a grant was applied for from BUTTLE for up to £2,000 and was successful in securing £1800, an enormous amount of money to her.

    The SEO’s supported her by taking her shopping for the essentials needed to start up her business helping her keep control of the budget. She is taking driving lessons to expand her business and has been accepted for a fourth year at the College to study Hair and Media makeup which will further advance her skills.

    The judges felt that this organisation is doing some fantastic work to support not only their staff but service users and the community they are based and therefore well deserve this accolade.

    November 2, 2015

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