3 ways to help people feel at home in times of fear

3 ways to help people feel at home in times of fear

Who do you know who might be longing to go home right now – but can’t?

At any point in time people can be displaced or stranded away from home. It’s often because of war or conflict – but of course it cold also be because of travel bans and restrictions on movement.

‘Home’ is one of the most comforting words in any language. When we’ve had a difficult day at work, or we’re feeling under the weather, or we’re stressed, tired or upset, we often just want to go home. It’s a place of safety, of sanctuary and a place to reset.

Having travelled a lot during my life, including for five years full time until 2019, I’ve got used to a fluid concept of ‘home’. It’s wherever I feel ‘connected’, and wherever my heart is at any given time – rather than any specific physical location.

At the same time, when I’ve been travelling, I’ve always known I could go home if I chose to – home to wherever that happened to be at the time. I have always been very fortunate it that respect.

I’ve just flown from the UK to Denmark, where I now live. Because of the current lack of flights and the risk of being stranded – plus the eerie silence of an almost empty airport – I felt a stronger longing for home that I normally would. From the UK to Denmark is hardly any distance really – but it felt a million miles away.

I felt really choked up when the plane finally reached the west coast of Denmark (photo) and I knew I would soon be home.

There are millions of people in the world who would like nothing better than to be able to go home: refugees and people fleeing political persecution; people who’ve chosen to move to – or work in – a new country and yet who routinely face xenophobic taunts of “Go home” or a prevailing culture that keeps them ‘the outsider’; people who are happy in a new location, but still sometimes long for the place where they grew up; people who find themselves in a particular location because of their job or other circumstances.

The Welsh language has a wonderful word, hiraeth

Hiraeth has various meanings including homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, or an earnest longing for a home that never was, a yearning and a grief for the lost places of our past.

We may know someone who is feeling this right now.

In times of global panic – for whatever reason – the fear that’s created often exceeds the reason for the original panic. It can increase suspicion of ‘the other’, increase our fear of ‘the stranger’ and lead us to pull down the shutters and shut people out.

Barriers and divisions between people in the world were increasing even before the current virus crisis. In a time of panic and fear, we have a wonderful opportunity to break them down.

As the late UK Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, said, “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”

Who in your neighbourhood might be longing to go home right now, but can’t?

Who might be feeling outcast and alone?

Who can you help feel more ‘at home’?

3 ways to help people feel at home in times of fear:

1. Who in your social networks might be regarded as ‘foreign’ or ‘other’ and who may really welcome some reassurance and support right now? Why not send them a message and ask them how they’re doing. It could be someone on the other side of the world – the internet doesn’t discriminate.

2. Who do you know in your local physical community who may be vulnerable right now – whether physically, mentally or emotionally – or who may need some shopping. Why not put a note through their door and offer support or help. This fantastic postcard idea from Becky Wass in the UK is heartwarming.

3. If you have a local shop in your area run by people who are originally from another country, and if the shop is open, why not pop in just to say hi and ask how they’re doing.

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2 Comments

  1. Steve McDaniel 2 weeks ago

    Wonderful work you are doing!

    • Author
      Angela Sherman 2 weeks ago

      Thanks for your kind comment, Steve. It’s interesting how difficult times can present us with unexpected opportunities to connect with those all around us.

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