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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Linda McAuley, BBC Radio Ulster

Linda McAuley is an award-winning presenter for the BBC Radio Ulster consumer advice programme On Your Behalf. She  was awarded ‘National Consumer Journalist of the Year for Northern Ireland.  Here, Linda reflects on what home means to her. 

What does home mean? When a student says, I'm going "home for Christmas", they don't mean their rented flat. When someone living abroad tells you where "home" is, they don't mean the country they've lived in for 25 years; and when an elderly person reminisces about "home" they don't mean the sheltered accommodation they'll dwell in for the remainder of their days. When we say "home" we mean the place where we grew up, where we felt safe, secure and relaxed, or the home we’ve created for our own family.

We lived in a number of different houses when I was a child, but I knew I was home when I opened the door, the dog ran to meet me, when I recognised the sounds and smells of home, and knew the people I loved were there.

And even if occasionally my mother said, "Wait till I get you home", I knew that no matter how naughty I'd been, even if I was sent to my room, I'd still be safe and loved. And when I was a mother I probably used exactly the same words to my three sons!

And I in turn created a home for them and while it was busy, noisy and frequently untidy, it was a secure and loving home.

Not everyone is so fortunate, and losing your home is probably the worst thing most of us can imagine. It strikes at the heart of who we are and what we are. Home is quite literally, where the heart is.

3 words - happy - loving - safe