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Why Teesside?

In its manifesto in 2019, the Conservative Party said it would be "levelling up every part of the UK" but what does this actually mean for Teesside specifically and it’s people?

As someone who hails from Teesside, Ingleby Barwick to be specific, the Levelling Up agenda presents an opportunity for my future. That opportunity is to hopefully be able to leave the South East and head back home. During the past 2 years, we have had space to re-evaluate how we want to live and work. Those of us who have had the luxury of time at home have been able to reflect on what’s truly important, perhaps one of the key contributors to the ‘Great Resignation’.

When I was commuting into London, I would step off the train to a throng of power-walking city workers and question whether this way of working and living is really what I, and we, want. For me, lockdown highlighted that the most important things for my happiness and wellbeing are nature, connection with people, and the health of myself and those I love. No doubt those things are attainable in the South-East, but, the place where I get to really fill my cup is my hometown.

Remote working has allowed me to spend more time at home in the north, and the difference it’s made, despite being the same person, doing exactly the same job, is incredible. I notice the change either side of my working day; I switch off quicker, feel more relaxed and have a greater sense of contentment.

A colleague of mine recently posed the question- is levelling up about the people or the place? For me, it’s about both.


Within 20 minutes of my house in Teesside I can be at the beach, with opportunities to surf, take a morning cold water dip or walk the dogs. In the other direction, I can be up on the moors walking- I manage to walk the dogs up the heather lined paths on the Cleveland way all before my 9am call. On weekends, I can drive to Durham, York, Newcastle and am surrounded by rich history and culture.

The levelling up agenda for Teesside plans to improve the place by bringing clean energy industry, improving transport links and regenerating areas that have been long forgotten. This all contributes to the lifestyle and wellbeing of its people.


During my working day, when I pop out, I talk to the people around me; there is a sense of community in the North East that makes me feel more socially connected. This is something I don’t get as much in London. Social interaction is key for a happy workforce, even more so in a new hybrid way of working where more people are working from home. Recent studies [hyperlink to The Science Of Human Connection And Wellness In A Digitally Connected World | by Marina Rose, QDNA® | Thrive Global | Medium] revealed that the emotional and physical impacts of loneliness can trigger cellular changes that, in turn, alter the gene expression in our bodies, impacting “what genes are turned on and off’’. In a bit of a vicious cycle, we respond physically and mentally as if the body is being prepared to fend off attack, our stress levels increase and we see a negative impact on aging on the body.

Not only are people friendly and warm, but the area is home to some of the most talented craftsmen, academics, artists, scientists, athletes… the list goes on.

Training for the London 2012 Olympics perhaps provides a fitting allegory for levelling up. Whilst my TeamGB teammates trained at a centralised base in the South-East, I fought hard to be able to stay in Teesside and train out of Tees Rowing Club as I knew it provided a better balance and lifestyle that would ultimately help me perform better. Mike Fallaize, a fellow Tees member, wrote me a poem following the Games, finishing with the line, ‘The medal is gold, and it’s forged from steel’ – and he was absolutely right. My medal was forged in Teesside- from its community, its coaches, its scientists, its resources.

Given the opportunity, we can untap so much potential that already exists in the area, and at the same time, provide a healthier, smarter, more inspiring way to live and work for the employees of the organisations who choose to invest and stay in the area going forwards.

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