I choose hope

I’ve written twice now on my observations and experiences since beginning to work in Stoke with Staffordshire University and live in Staffordshire.

I moved back from London in November 2021, spent most of 2022 travelling and since December ’22 have been a permanent resident here.

I felt pulled back to the area for many reasons. Mostly to do with contributing to a community where I felt like I could have a tangible impact and a quality life where I wouldn’t be in the same rat race.

My heart is here.

Yet my head had many fears and doubts.

‘Where will I get good food?’
‘Who will I talk to about mental health, feminism, philosophy and social injustice?’
‘What gym will I go to? Will it have a sauna?’
‘I’ll never have a good coffee again’
‘Do they even have deliveroo?’
‘I can never get an Uber.’
‘Ugh, I’ll have to drive everywhere.’

(If it were ever, in doubt, yes I’m a millennial who’s lived in London)

These were real doubts about moving to this area.

My experience so far has been that everything I need is here. It’s just not always on my doorstep or on my phone in 30-40 mins.

In London I could have everything I didn’t need and nothing I fundamentally needed.

I could have a world-wide range of food in a heartbeat and no clean air.

I could have Ethiopian food in 4 tube stops and never have a garden.

The irony is that coming back I have noticed the negativity the area receives from it’s residents. I wrote about how it’ll always be a shithole if we keep calling it one and how pointing the finger gets the city and it’s community nowhere fast.

What I get the feeling of is; lack. Like we don’t have enough, like people have more than us. Other cities have better options, better food, better arts, better culture.

There’s only a little appreciation for what we have in abundance in Stoke and Staffordshire. Kindness, community, green space and (whilst rising) an affordable (comparatively) cost of living.

I am choosing to be grateful for what I have and feel lucky to live in a place where I can have a nice house, a good gym membership, awesome walks in the countryside, and yes, still find good coffee.

Would it be nice to find the world’s cuisine in a vibrant city centre? Yes it would. Who’s to blame for their being no Mexican restaurant or no sushi place?

You start one up, you’ve got a customer right here.

I choose to be grateful.

I choose hope too. I hope to see more independent bars and restaurants crop up. I hope someone starts a cool menswear shop I can go to.

I choose to see opportunity and potential amidst the hardship and deprivation.

I choose to believe it’s on me and all of us to play our part in changing the community that we live in for the better.

I understand that for many, Stoke and Staffordshire feels a place with a ceiling and not enough opportunities. I get that and see the truth in it. I choose to believe that’s changing too.