Reflecting on our first week - with some recommended reads

We’re coming to the end of the first week of NationalWorld, and it’s been a really encouraging start.

It's been a busy first week for the NationalWorld team

First and foremost, thank you for reading. Thank you for the messages of support, your retweets and your comments. We’re still learning what you like and don’t like about our coverage, and we want to keep the conversation going.

One thing that gave us an early confidence boost was how many of you responded positively to our mission statement, particularly our core identity of being a national news brand that’s not based in London

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One thing I feel we should make clear is that we’re not anti-London. Far from it. I personally love the buzz of London; its pulsing energy and cultural diversity, the endless choice of things to see and do. (The 90-minute Tube journeys I’m less keen on.)

What we’re calling for with NationalWorld is for the rest of the UK to share in this economic vitality. For a fairer distribution of opportunities, jobs and investment.

This week, our data and investigations team has been crunching the numbers on how ‘levelled up’ the country actually is.

First, we revealed how the Covid pandemic has made the task of levelling up four times harder than before. That’s because more than 600,000 jobs are now needed in poorer parts of the country if Boris Johnson is to meet his 2019 election pledge to level up the nation’s regions.

Harriet Clugston, our data and investigations editor, then looked in more detail at the impact of Covid on unemployment rates and jobs in each region of the UK, following it up with an analysis of the increasingly stark productivity gap between London and the rest of the nation.

Today, there was further evidence of the loaded scales, with the announcement of the latest grants in the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, which confirmed that London receives by far the most support per head of population.

We will continue to investigate this issue and probe the data, but we will also report fairly on successes and breakthroughs along the way too.

If you’re looking for more to read this weekend, here are some highlights from the NationalWorld team so far...

Finlay Greig offered a tongue-in-cheek guide to UK alternatives to world famous destinations (we’ll take the Penshaw Monument over the Parthenon any day) and unearthed a 19th century guide to travelling Scotland.

Claire Schofield learned of the anxieties and excitement of shielders as they prepared to emerge from their isolation after so long, and also shared her own sense of nervousness ahead of things returning to ‘normal’.

Ethan Shone offered a definitive preview of the Hartlepool by-election. Look out for more of his coverage on the local elections in the run-up to May 6.

Jenna Macfarlane picked out 21 of the best restaurants in England with outdoor seating ahead of rules easing.

Alex Nelson covered the story of how a job application by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a teenager was sold for more than £200,000 and rounded up the new driving laws that are due to come into force this year.

Rhona Shennan explained the social media behaviour you may not know could get you sued - or arrested, and looked back at the best (or worst, depending on your taste) local April Fools news stories from times gone by - as chosen by newspaper editors.

Matt Brooks looked at ONS data to ask whether UK retailers are on the road to recovery, and shared some tips for first-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder during the pandemic.

Carly Roberts reported on the troubling trend in dog thefts during the lockdown, with demand for dogs at an all-time high.

Aimee Stanton revealed that nearly 10 million GP appointments were wasted during the pandemic because patients failed to attend them, at a cost of £288m to the NHS.

And in our new Recommended section, e-commerce editor Katrina Conaglen wrote about how we hope to help you with your online shopping.

Look out for much more next week, but in the meantime, have a great Easter.