One of the most powerful business voices  in the North East is joining The Northern Echo's Level Up campaign to bring more jobs and investment to the region.

Darlington Building Society has become the tenth partner in the campaign and will now be working with bp, believe housing, Cummins, Durham County Council, North East Chamber of Commerce, razorblue group, Tees Valley Combined Authority, Teesside International Airport and Womble Bond Dickinson to keep vital Government focus on the region and let investors know that collaboration and support across every sector is already happening here.

CEO Andrew Craddock told us that for him the campaign was about businesses pooling their resources and expertise 'to make a real difference'.

He said: "The Building Society movement was born out of addressing social injustice and supporting home ownership. As part of that movement, Darlington Building Society was formed by local businessmen to support hard working people save for the future and be able to afford their own homes. The Society remains true to those values today, and as well as providing savings and mortgage products, seeks to be an active and supportive member of the local and regional community, using its resources for the benefit of the community.

The Northern Echo: Speaking up for the North EastSpeaking up for the North East (Image: Newsquest)

"The Northern Echo Level Up campaign is also focused on social injustice in the region and bringing businesses together to pool their resources and expertise to make a real difference and ensure the North East is on a level playing field with other parts of the country. The Level Up campaign is a fantastic example of the progress that can be made when passionate businesses collaborate, and Darlington Building Society is proud to join the campaign to collaborate and partner with the other regional businesses already involved."

Andrew said the Society had some key messages to share through the campaign:

The art of resilience

A constant through change, tackling modern challenges holding the same story and values at every turn.

During these changing times, we are here to support all our colleagues, members and the local community.

We’re underlining our High Street commitment by continuing our branch renovation and relocation project, placing us in the most prominent spots on our High Streets, where we plan to stay.

Even in the midst of cost of living challenges, it is critical to reinforce the saving habit, putting a little bit aside every month to build resilience for the future

Innovation to thrive

We have invested in digitising our member experience to provide more people with what they expect from a modern, thriving financial services organisation. Offering the option of a digital experience to complement our much valued face-to-face high street interaction.

Award winning innovative savings accounts and mortgages to help people achieve their savings goals and into homes of their own, whatever their goals or circumstances may be.

Working with partners to develop solutions to overcome barriers to home ownership including those with small deposits and with a strong track record of affording rental payments.

The sheer strength of the region - with collaboration at its heart - has been a key part of its DNA for generations and Andrew said the need to change and adapt was vital.

He told us: "In times of change, often the economic reverberations are felt the most in the North East. But this is exactly what makes the region so resilient. We can evolve our business’ strengths to adapt to change, whilst remaining true to our values.

"Darlington Building Society is testament to this approach, having been located in the region since 1856, withstanding two World Wars, the Great depression, numerous recessions; yet we’re still here providing a home for people’s savings and helping them save for a home of their own. We’re committed to the high street and to our local communities.

The Northern Echo: The Level Up panel travels around the North EastThe Level Up panel travels around the North East (Image: Newsquest)

"In terms of building your future, there’s plenty of opportunity in the North East, and it’s being recognised on a national level. HM Treasury chose the region to locate its economic campus, demonstrating promise and confidence in the area. Middlesbrough is evolving and fast becoming a technology hub in the shadow of its proud steelmaking legacy.

"There is a lot of talent and character throughout the region’s businesses, with the tenacity to carry the North East through these times of change.

"When it comes to laying down roots, the North East offers some of the most affordable homes in the country. And although budgets are tight right now, there are some excellent mortgage options for first-time buyers with some requiring just a 5% deposit.

"For those with more complex needs, or with a non-standard property to find a mortgage for, a building society could be the perfect fit as they offer manual underwriting to avoid a “computer says no” outlook.

"If people are able to save often, even in small amounts, it all adds up to creating a crucial financial buffer that will help to alleviate financial pressures and improve mental wellbeing. We offer members free savings reviews to help ensure their savings are in the right accounts to suit their needs and financial goals, so we urge people to check with their banks or visit one of our branches to start their journey to a healthier savings habit."

The Northern Echo: Andrew CraddockAndrew Craddock (Image: Newsquest)

The future for the whole of the North East is looking brighter day by day, and Darlington Building Society says it is well positioned to keep growing and supporting the wider region.

Andrew said: "Darlington Building Society is a capable, resilient and financially strong organisation, and are in a solid place to weather the current economic storms that continue to impact on the market we trade in. We will continue to grow our business in order to deliver long-term value to our members and the need to continue with our investment strategy and improving the products and services we offer our members remains key to our future success.

"We will also continue to enhance services to support our members through face-to-face, telephone and online services and these remain at the heart of our plans. Our core goal of serving our members in any way they choose remains.

"The Society will continue to provide a full mortgage and savings service in its branches and remains committed to our presence on the high street and in our local communities. We will drive forward our agenda to provide digital solutions to support members in managing their money as solutions mature and our plans for the future stays with the themes of digital transformation and embracing change by investing in our people and technology capabilities.

"Members will therefore continue to see changes and improvements in the ways the Society delivers its products and services in the coming months and years and enjoy the advantages of a ‘bricks and clicks’ service."