#ThisNorthernGirlCan Interview With Sharon Sinclair-Williams

Sharon -Sinclair-Williams-This-Northern-Girl-Can

I toyed with the idea of whether a #ThisNorthernGirlCan interview with me was even necessary. After all, I’ve shared everything here ever since I wrote that first article about Boro girls. The Northern Niche is my open book but just in case you wanted a bit more …. here we go …

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself.

A. I work part time at Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm. I am their digital marketing manager. I also co write and edit here at The Northern Niche and teach business owners how to get the best out of social media marketing as The Social Gene. I’m a wife and a mum.  Being a mum has been my best job so far in life. I work with my eldest son here and at The Social Gene. I’m also an award winning blogger at BestBeforeEndDate.com.

Q. What have you loved about growing up in the North?

A. I was born in Thornaby, close to Stockton-on-Tees. I used to love the freedom we had as kids. We always felt safe. I used to spend a lot of time with an array of cousins and there were always an endless amount of sleepovers and having tea at each other’s houses. I was a bit of a tomboy and remember only ever going home when I was hungry!

We moved to Marton when I was nine. Just six months later my dad died suddenly aged just 32 leaving me, my mum and younger brother behind. This changed my life forever but we still had lots of support from our extended family. My grandmother {my dad’s mum} became my rock at this stage in my life. Actually, she already was .. she just became more so.

Q. Did you have any challenges growing up in the North?

A. Honestly, I can’t remember having any challenges while I was growing up. It was only when I actually moved away to London after sixth form  that I found out there were misconceptions. I was puzzled that they seemed to be around people’s perception of the North.  Somehow they thought being Northern was ‘less’.

 Q. Have you or do you face any challenges being female?

A. I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve suffered the general derogatory sexual type of abuse when I was younger. Absolutely horrible to deal with and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I’ve been described as strong willed and passionate and sometimes people don’t know where to ‘put’ me. I think this has made me seem a threat sometimes.

I lost a successful ecommerce business a few years ago that I had grown from scratch over 10 years but that’s a story for another time. I can’t say  I’m fully over it yet because it was very tough both emotionally and financially on our family. When I asked for help during this time, though it was always my female associates that were the most helpful and concerned and went out of their way to offer help and guidance.

I actually love that life is one enormous learning curve!

Q. What or who inspired your journey to where you are now?

A. I’ve got to say my mum for how she got through those dark times as a young widow. She was actually only 29 when she was widowed. Most of all though, my Nana Nancy; my paternal grandmother. She was the only woman I knew at the time who went out to work full time because she wanted to.  She was really unusual in a time when nearly all women were still mostly at home.

Q. What advice would you to give to girls growing up in the North?

A. Ask questions. I wish I’d asked more questions. Also, not to worry if you want to change your mind about ANYTHING. Life really is a journey on a windy road not a straight one. I feel as if I’m giving advice to my younger self here!

 Q. How do you think we can encourage more young people about the importance of gender equality?

A. I think we’ve just got to keep talking. My two sons are fierce about fairness and equality. I’m lucky in that I found a life partner who thinks just like me and so we instilled these same ideals into both our boys. Like lots of things in life the seeds are sown early on at home.

Q. Tell us some of your favourite Northern places.

A. I love the coast; Saltburn, Robin Hood’s Bay, Sandsend, Whitby but especially, Saltburn. As a family we are happy to spend time here whatever the weather. This used to be our old mutt, Bruno’s favourite beach. Sadly, we lost him last year. I’m also really keen on industrial landscapes. I love visiting the North and South Gare at the mouth of the River Tees to look across at the industry which continues to carve out our history. It’s fascinating.

Q. Who are your favourite Northern people (alive or dead?)

A. I loved the wit and cleverness of Victoria Wood; how she sent up ordinary, Northern people and everyday Northern life and that was okay .. we let her ..  because she was Northern. Taken far too soon. I love listening to Northern accents on the radio especially Sara Cox’s. Most of all though, I  really love anyone who is proud of their Northern heritage. They will always be my favourites.

Q. Explain your love of the North in one sentence.

A. I love it’s honesty. It’s not on show. It knows how to just … be.

Q. What would you like to see the #ThisNorthernGirlCan movement do?

A. From the outset of this conversation I wanted to bring together people not genders.

I’d love a world where gender really doesn’t matter not because it’s not important but because we’ve overcome the issue. There are people who will say we are wasting our time, it will never change, but things do change. They will only change, though, if we are open and keep the conversation moving. We can’t stay quiet if we want change.

We are very, very lucky that we live in a society that allows us to have this conversation and that we have the freedom to speak.

The more we speak and collaborate with others about gender equality the more powerful we will be. I talk about ‘Strength In Numbers’ a lot on social media and it really is powerful.

There is so much more I want to discuss and raise awareness on .. around diversity and role models.

I also want to recruit men to be ambassadors. We can’t do much without their support.

Oh and kids … I’d  love to get kids as #ThisNorthernGirlCan ambassadors, too.

Imagine that strength … kids being role models to each other?


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