Rotherham, England, UK – When someone asks me where I live, I tell them a lie. I tell them I live in Sheffield, the closest city. Whenever I say where I really live, I feel embarrassed. That’s because I live in Rotherham, a town best known for the Chuckle Brothers comedy duo and grooming gangs.
Located in the northern county of South Yorkshire, Rotherham is where I’ve lived for my entire 17-year life. But despite that, the town doesn’t feel like home. I couldn’t tell you the hotspots, the bus routes or even where the hospital is.
If I want to go out for dinner, I go to Sheffield. If I want to go to the cinema, I go to Sheffield. Even if I want to go shopping, I go to Sheffield. And if not Sheffield, I go to another close by town in Doncaster. But rarely ever do I stay in Rotherham.
Rotherham doesn’t have a famous landmark or just something to make it stand out. There is nothing I want to go to in town that makes me want to fight my paranoia, so I almost never do.
I feel that comes from a sense of paranoia. Because of all the haunting stories about grooming gangs and child sexual abuse, I don’t feel entirely safe walking through the town center. So, despite the odds of anything bad happening being slim, I avoid doing so whenever possible.
But I can’t sit here and say that Rotherham is all bad, as that isn’t the case. There are bright spots to this town.
There is a big backing for the town’s football team, Rotherham United, who recently got promoted into the second tier. Tons of passionate fans are located throughout the town and get together on match days.
Despite this, I don’t feel like I am missing out. Sure, Rotherham has your big-name shops, but so does every other town in the country.
Elsewhere, there are a several nice parks to visit, places to take your dog for a walk or have a picnic. One of the parks even has a giant play area that kids adore.
One of my favorite things about Rotherham is the mass amount of fish and chip shops. There are tons of them. I’m in walking distance of at least five.
But for me, the bright spots don’t manage to shine through and make me fall in love with this town. They aren’t enough for me to want to call Rotherham my home.
Perhaps my mind could change in the future. Maybe Rotherham could improve and get out of the dark shadow of crime that still haunts it. But at this moment, I do not wish to stay in this town for the rest of my life.
Thomas Barrett is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.