Letter Eleven

Welcome. Two syllables, stretching out like embracing arms. Well, come – come into this country, this nation, this little slab of rock that owes more than it likes to admit to you and to others who came before you.

Welcome. An easy enough word to say, but one that seems to stick in the throats of politicians and tabloid columnists. They would like you to believe that you are not welcome, that the people of this country are as hostile as its famous rain. But the weather isn’t as bad as people make out, and the people of this country contain more compassion and complexity than newspaper editors will tell you.

Welcome. From the Old English wilcuma: a combination of the word for pleasure and the word for guest. It’s a pleasure to open our doors to you, and I hope that people treat you as they would a guest, with care and kindness and consideration.

Welcome. I mean it. I don’t know who you are, but that doesn’t matter. A true welcome is a welcome that extends to strangers as well as to friends. A true welcome extends to all who need refuge.

Welcome. Sit down. Have a cuppa. Here, cups of tea soothe griefs, warm hands and build friendships. I’ll put the kettle on.

Welcome. You are welcome, though it may not always feel like it. I – we – welcome you.

Welcome.

Catherine Love, York, Writer and Academic

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