"WE are backing all businesses across the North-East and North Yorkshire.”

That is the message from Newsquest North-East and North Yorkshire’s sales director Ryan Fenwick and editor Hannah Chapman.

In an extremely challenging and unprecedented time, Newsquest North-East and Yorkshire, the publisher of The Northern Echo, Darlington & Stockton Times and the Advertiser series, wants to show its support to the communities it serves by launching a new campaign – “Supporting our businesses”.

As part of the campaign all businesses are being offered the opportunity to have a free advert in our titles next week to help them spread their “shop local” message to as many customers as possible.

Ms Chapman said: “In unprecedented times such as these we must all do our best to support all our businesses.

“Shopping local has never been so important as it is now.

“It is no secret our local traders are facing a difficult time and as a champion of our communities, Newsquest North-East and Yorkshire, wants to help in any way it can.

“In all of our titles we will be featuring the efforts of local businesses which have been going the extra mile to support their customers.

“If you have any examples of a business going above and beyond please get in touch.”

The campaign will be officially launched in tomorrow’s newspaper with continuous coverage across our print products and websites.

Mr Fenwick said: “To help support businesses during these uncertain times, this campaign will provide a marketing message to our significant local audience completely free of charge. As a media brand, we will raise awareness around the need to support the local economy and promote how businesses are diversifying to keep afloat.

“Any business which wants to be featured in our launch campaign should get in touch and we will be more than happy to provide a free standard sized advert for any business which trades in any area of the North East and North Yorkshire.”

Peter Gibson, the Darlington MP, who is backing the campaign, said: “I’m really pleased to support this initiative because, while keeping the guidance about self-isolation in mind, we do need to find ways in these difficult times to keep the local economy ticking over.

“Already we are beginning to see businesses are diversifying and rising to the coronavirus challenge and their efforts really need to be promoted.

“From day one I’ve said I would work night and day to support our businesses, and at a critical time like this it has never been more important that we all pull together – and I am delighted to see that this is starting to happen within the business community in Darlington, as this campaign shows.”

Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison also added her support, saying: “Now, more than ever, our businesses need our support. If you can buy your food from a little independent shop, please do. If a café or pub is offering a new takeout service, give it a go. We will get through this if we all pull together as a community.”

James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “We all need to pull together and support each other in this type of crisis. The media are very important in getting messages out there to the general public and businesses, so this Northern Echo campaign will be extremely useful.

"We need to show businesses that we value them and are willing to be there for them and their staff. All promotion to encourage awareness of their products and services is to be welcomed.”