Being a young woman from Middlesbrough, I have finally accepted – at the age of 26 – that there will always be people who speak negatively about our area… whether that’s Teessiders themselves, people from down south or the national media trying to portray us in a bad light.

Middlesbrough has been reported as the worst place to live in the UK… Our government decided in 2015 not to save our steel works… We have been left behind time after time.

Back in 2015, I remember the steel works closing and thinking that if we were a town in the south east of England then somehow, just somehow, our world-famous steel works would have stayed open and been saved.

My grandparents came here in the 1950s when my grandad ended up working for ICI, a famous Teesside company, and very much part of the area’s history. My other grandad served in the Green Howards in the Second World War. Besides my family’s links to the area, there are many more reasons why I’m so proud to be from here. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else on the planet, which I know many people may think is a mad statement, but guess what… it’s the truth.

One of the main reasons I am so proud to be a Teessider is the people who live here… from the people who were born and raised here whose families have been here for 100 years, to the people who are from overseas or other parts of the UK, there’s just something about the people living across the Tees. There is a real sense of pride for the area and belonging, coming together and community feeling. I feel as though being from Teesside makes up most of my identify and the values I hold as a person. I feel a stronger sense of being a Teessider more than being British or of being from Italian descent at times.

I love our accent and our own unique way of speaking. I love that we have our own sayings, which if you said anywhere else in the world no one would have a clue what you meant. There’s something about our accent and our slang which makes me so proud to be from Teesside.

We have the Parmo, our very own dish which was created right here. We have our steel heritage; everyone seems to have some connection to the steel history of Teesside, and we all know our steel helped build some of the most significant bridges in the world. We are proud of our history as Ironopolis or the Infant Hercules. We have pride in our very own football clubs… the list is endless.

We love the amazing places we have across Teesside. Whenever I hear that we were voted the worst place to live in the UK, I always wonder if the people doing these polls even visited the area. Yes, we have our bad parts – all towns and cities do – but to list only a few of my favourite spots: I don’t think I’ve been to a nicer beach in the UK than Saltburn… Roseberry Topping is a stunning natural landmark… walking along the River Tees from the dales through to Yarm, Stockton and the river mouth itself highlights our varied and incredible history… and of course we have our famous blue Transporter Bridge. We have some amazing spots which make up our area and history, create a sense of pride and makes me proud to live here.

I will never stop being proud to be from this area and will keep fighting for Teesside voices to make sure we are seen in a positive light and can celebrate where we live and work. Yes, I know we have our problems but doesn’t everywhere?

Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Tees Online, including its contributing writers, editors or any other individuals connected with The Tees Online.