Stories of ‘Home’ from Behind Closed Doors

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, our homes have been transformed. Bedrooms have become offices, living rooms have become classrooms, gardens have become gyms, and every house has become a cage of sorts.

Some people without a home have found one whilst others have been evicted, and many, many people live with the uncertainty of not being able to afford to keep theirs.

‘Oxford is My Home’ is a zine produced by Oxford Poetry Library and Open House which uses words and pictures to tell the hidden stories of housing and homelessness in Oxford and what it means to call this city ‘home’. You can read more about our first two issues which were released throughout 2019 here.

For our third issue, we wanted to know what #StayatHome looks like for you? How are you spending your days? Who are you with? Are you enjoying yourself? What are you worried about? What do you miss about being able to leave your home?

The Lockdown Edition is our collection of submissions gathered during April and May 2020. We included everything we were sent to ensure we platformed as many voices as possible, and are hugely grateful to everyone who contributed.

Youth in Lockdown is the youth section of the project, led by Oxfordshire Discovery College. We are encouraging young people (aged 13-25) in particular to send us their work to be shared in this section as their experiences have been so different from older people or younger children, and arguably under-represented. We wanted to give young people a space to express their lockdown experiences through art. The coronavirus has meant that young people are missing out – on school, on seeing their friends, on doing lots of the things that are important to them. We also know that the lockdown will be impacting the mental health of many young people, and that their usual support strategies might not be accessible. Not only is it important that there are still plenty of ways for young people to connect and achieve, but also that their voices are heard. Youth in Lockdown provides a platform for young people to share their experiences in creative and personal ways.

About Oxford Poetry Library

Oxford Poetry Library launched in April 2017 as a way to bring poetry out into the community. We operate out of a big custom-built purple cargo bike, peddling (and pedalling) our wares to farmers markets, festivals, and street events throughout the city for all sorts of people to discover all sorts of poetry. Our primary aim is to provide a space in Oxford for people to access and talk about poetry, discover new writing, and be platformed as local writers. A lot of our work is focused on marginalised groups (such as young people, people facing homelessness, and mental health charities). As well as operating as a lending library, we run frequent workshops, performances, events, and reading groups, often collaborating with other organisations to promote access to literature for people who might not otherwise have it.

About Open House

Open House was a public talking shop on housing and homelessness which was open throughout 2019 in an empty shop on Little Clarendon St. It was a homely space which is actively welcoming to people from all backgrounds, including those who are currently experiencing homelessness. It was run by local architecture and design cooperative Transition by Design and supported by Aspire.

About Oxfordshire Discovery College

The Oxfordshire Discovery College was founded in late 2019 as a service for children and young people experiencing difficulties with their mental health. Discovery Colleges are places where young people can be with others who understand their experiences, where they can learn about what they’re feeling and what they can do to make things feel a bit better. Our staff have both professional expertise and lived experience, creating a space that encourages openness and peer support. The Discovery College is also for the young person’s friends from school or anywhere else, for their parents, carers, siblings, wider family, and for the staff and volunteers helping them to get better or stay well.

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