Why I’m proud to be The Wolverhampton Counsellor

by | Sep 29, 2021 | Thoughts

How the pandemic helped me to love the place I call home. 

One of the things I most missed during the first lockdown of the pandemic was the feeling of ‘coming home’. As far as I know, there isn’t a word for it, but perhaps there should be. It’s such a distinctive, atavistic feeling, a return to what is constant and safe – and in the eye of the pandemic, that feeling can be the grounding we need.

As I approach my neighbourhood after, say, a week away, I feel strangely excited by the ordinariness of everything, the lamp posts, the neighbour from number eight walking her dog, the moss growing on next door’s roof, the thrum of a distant playground. While intensifying for me all that’s familiar, being away lends a new perspective on home since I have experienced it from a different vantage point and can somehow see it afresh.


As I put the key in the lock, I sense myself inwardly settling, both emotionally and physically. The tension in my stomach eases as I make a soft landing. I’m where I should be. As I step into my hallway, sniffing the air, my pace slows down in acknowledgement of the journey’s end though my heart lifts with a little joy. I sink into my favourite chair and sigh out loud, ‘it’s good to be home.’

Home for me is a two up, two down in Tettenhall Wood, Wolverhampton, a sixties semi with a long garden and no distinguishing features save for a scruffy little park opposite. And yet it is a place where I feel ‘held’, where I can be myself, please myself.


The sigh at being home after a period away is part relief, part thankfulness for the modest roof over my head. I have briefly known homelessness, having sofa-surfed for a few weeks and as a young adult, I returned to the parental home when things went wrong: a relationship breakdown, the end of a lease, unemployment.

I have also known home as a place of tension, threat, and violence – where the closing of the door was an act not of maintaining boundaries, but of enforced isolation.

The incarceration of lockdown occasionally evoked in me the feeling of ‘farsickness’ or ‘fernweh’, that longing to explore far-flung places. But mostly, I have turned my attention more mindfully towards the place I called home. The little park opposite where the River Penk rises became my Eden, the local streets, my exercise quad. There’s no geographic drama here, no mountains or coastlines, only some well-stocked hedgerows and some show-off gardens.  And while some of the posher houses hereabouts are testament to the city’s more prosperous past, there’s little of architectural distinction. And yet lockdown has made me love and appreciate my local neighbourhood more even though it’s as ordinary as two empty milk bottles on the doorstep.


My appreciation wasn’t always the case. Wolverhampton born and bred, I was often felt ashamed of my home, once dubbed ‘the fifth worst city in the world’, a title promoted mischievously by the local paper to stir outrage from local bigwigs and derision from those intent on attacking the city’s political custodians.

Wolverhampton’s often portrayed nationally as a bit of a joke by stand-ups and BBC Radio 4 show panellists. Even Queen Victoria was rumoured to have closed the curtains on her carriage to save the royal gaze from the then town’s industrial ugliness. Google ‘Wolverhampton’ and ‘shithole’ appears high on the search results.

Of course, there are plenty of valiant souls who defy the name calling and an increasingly confident city council is intent on ‘talking up’ Wolverhampton with ambitious investment plans and a bid to become a city of culture.

In truth, there are nasty seams of racism and classism under the surface of this maligning of the city. The attacks are also personal because where we live is who we are.

Lockdown has made me appreciate my relationship with home in so many ways, not just how it makes me feel, but how it confers on me a sense of who I am, where I’m from and who I could be. I also recognise how I contribute to the creation of this place, not only how I maintain my front garden, but how I relate to my neighbours, participate in local groups, talk about place, protest to protect services and the local environment and support local businesses.


I’m an integral part of this place, I’m an element of what makes it live and breathe and tick. In return, it’s held me tight during a time of national crisis, it’s been a haven in the profoundest sense of that word. I’ve come to terms with my home city and, with a bit of pride, I now call my counselling business The Wolverhampton Counsellor as an act of allegiance. For now, it’s where I belong.


  • The name The Wolverhampton Counsellor was suggested by Tosca Lahiri, the designer of this website and encapsulated in my brand by local graphic designer Dawn Fallon.


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