An Instagram post shared by Justine Up North has taken the internet by storm, bearing the message ‘we’re northern but not stupid’, epitomizing a feeling many people living up and down the country have felt, particularly in the north of England. Justine, who has started a northern businesses relief fund, took to Instagram: ‘The government and media in this country treat the North as if it’s a grey, distant land of simpletons and quite frankly, I’m f**king bored of it.
The piece of art has gone from strength to strength, uniting local businesses, spreading awareness on the issue, and putting a smile on everyone's face. We are in union with the thousands who have found Justine's work incredibly relatable and empowering, we were over the moon to have the opportunity to speak to her this week.
"My initial ‘rant’ on Instagram was a knee jerk reaction to days of hearing the news that London was going into Tier 3 restrictions. The reporting felt so starkly different from the way the national media talked about the North when cases were rising here. Just 24 hours after posting, almost 50,000 people had liked and shared my post and it was clear so many people felt the same way."
However, the hard work hasn't stopped there. Justine has set out to find a way to make the most of her platform "It got me thinking that while I was in the spotlight a little bit, I could use my platform to make some real change. It’s all too easy to state an opinion on social media but how often does it actually make a difference? With the help of some people I know in the third sector who know how to raise funds legitimately, I set up the Northern Small Business Emergency Relief Fund which over the coming months will distribute its funds to small businesses in the North who have fallen through the cracks of government financial support. In just the last 24 hours the website has raised £8,000 and continues to rise quickly"
We ended the conversation by asking her how she's found the reaction since posting the piece of art online, "The reaction has been incredible, really overwhelming. It’s amazing how generous people are willing to be for their community. In terms of the next steps, I’d love to raise as much money as possible but realistically, there’s a bigger picture here. I’d love to use this exposure to take this forward to connect with the right people in Westminster who can amplify the voices of the North and make sure we are heard when it comes to policy and decision making."