Update 22 October 2015
This post is not, perhaps, my finest work – as I say in the pre-amble, for numerous reasons I find it hard to find the right words to convey thoughts about the town I grew up in. However, with the latest news about closure of steel works I think it’s better to say something than keep quiet.
More importantly, I can use my blog as a vehicle to share this fab post from The Dysfunctional Mother. She is in Scunthorpe where they too are facing the closure of their Steel Industry.
Want to know more? Here is a great piece by radio 4 on what can only be described as the plight of Rotherham. I stumbled across it because it was shared by Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham. She is worth a twitter follow.
Now, here is the original post I wrote a few months ago. Rotherham and many many other towns like it deserve a voice. And a voice that is listened to. So please – listen.
I grew up in Rotherham. I lived in the same house from being 3 to 18, when I left for University. My parents still live in that house now, 20 years later.
Me, my husband and the kids visit now and again. Not as often as I’d like. The boys love it there. While I’ve lost touch with most of my old friends, It still feels like home.
The report and national press coverage that I saw last week about Child Sexual Expolitation in my home town has, needless to say, left me and my family reeling.
It is hard to write about what’s happened, and is still happening. Perhaps it is because it is too close to home. Perhaps, given I have lived on the South Coast for nearly 2 decades, I am too far removed to have anything valuable to say. Perhaps it is because it has all been said already. Perhaps, given the relatively charmed life I have lived, I don’t know jack and should keep my thoughts to myself.
Still, Rotherham is a part of me. It feels wrong to ignore the events that have unfolded there.
Lately, I have tried to focus on the positive in all aspects of life, no matter how hard that might be. With that in mind, I have spent the past few days reflecting on what values and beliefs I have that I associate with Rotherham. I live by some of these values, I aspire to live by others. I hold them all because of, not in spite of, where I grew up.
I hope to pass these values onto my own children, and for my own children to be able to decide for themselves how useful they are.
I am not proud of Rotherham Council.
I am not proud of the perpetrators of these horrific crimes,
I am proud of where I am from.
I want my sons to be proud of where I am from too.
Here is what Rotherham taught this Mum:
- People different to you are rarely bad people.
- People different to you are not necessarily good people.
- All classes, all social groups, all religions, all regions contain a number of dick heads. The dick heads are rarely representative of the group.
- Don’t be a dick head.
- People will make assumptions about you when you they meet you, based upon what group they think you come from.
- Don’t be the type of person who makes assumptions about people based upon what group you think they come from.
- Listen to the person who you never hear speak.
- If you speak full of bitterness and anger, however justified those emotions, people will stereotype you as someone not worth listening to.
- If you stand tall, look people in the eye, and smile when you speak to them, people will see the real you quicker. They are also more likely to listen to what you have to say.
- If you are too tired to stand tall, too scared to look people in the eye, and too sad to smile when you talk, search hard for that person who can help you. They are closer than you think.
- If the person who offers help demands something unreasonable in return, they are really just helping themselves. Move on.
- It is easier to stand on your own two feet if you know that you aren’t alone.
- You will be able to count on one hand the number of people you meet in life who truly don’t want to be able to stand on their own two feet. Don’t believe those with power who tell you otherwise.
- Some people who have power are good people.
- People who pursue power or riches for the sole purpose of being powerful or rich are dangerous.
- Keep voting.
- One of the easiest ways to bring the most disparate groups of people together is a great song.
- Fight for a community and an infrastructure that gives you the means to do things together, including singing.
- Money alone cannot make you happy.
- Lack of money can make you miserable.
- However little money you have, you deserve an education.
- You’re a fool if you don’t take the education that is offered to you.
- Being poor is not about being unable to afford a trip to Center Parcs in the school holidays. It’s about not being able to afford to live.
- In a nation this wealthy, our children deserve to not just live but to flourish, regardless of where they are born.
- No matter how wealthy you are, if you constantly work more hours than you are paid to work because you are afraid of what might happen if you don’t, you are somebody’s slave.
- Work hard.
- Have fun.
- Find joy in the little things you love.
- Remember where you come from.
- Be proud of who you are…………
- …unless you are a dick.