Welcome home! For that’s the theme we’ve given to this, our sixth issue of The Northern Correspondent – an opportunity for our writers, photographers, illustrators and designers to unlock the front door of what “home” means to us, and to others.
For most of us, thankfully, thoughts of home are warm and fuzzy – a place where we’ve experienced love and acceptance, safety and security. Sometimes it’s a pin in the map, a “heimat” for which we pine. So, as you turn the pages of this collection of reports and essays, you may happen upon stories of people building timber-framed futures for their families, bloodthirsty pirates who were homesick, folk anthems that make football fans weep or long-distance lorry-drivers using technology to keep in touch with their kids while they work away.
But in this issue, we’ve also sought to explore the experiences of those for whom home has been far from a safe place – young people escaping family breakdown, children living in poverty, refugees seeking to escape conflict.
Those tired and weary refugees, travelling hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles in search of new lives will be a defining image of our generation, and now make us question our notions of home on a daily basis. As Warsan Shire, a Somali-British writer, puts it, no one leaves home “unless home is the mouth of a shark… you only leave home when home won’t let you stay.”
Social workers often use something known as the “three houses technique”to help a child think about and discuss what makes them happy or fearful, their hopes and their dreams. The children draw their homes with pencils and crayons. With words, poems, photography and illustration, we’ve tried to do the same.