'I really do love living here': Meet the schoolgirl who has penned an essay in tribute to Wolverhampton
A schoolgirl has put pen to paper to declare her love for ‘vibrant’ and ‘exciting’ Wolverhampton.
Sixteen-year-old Victoria Burns, of Wolverhampton Girls’ High School, is on a mission to promote the city after slamming statistics that labelled it the fifth most miserable city in the world.
Victoria is sharing her personal and supportive essay in hope it might change the minds of others.
“At school last year, when I was 15, we were given the task of writing a piece aiming to promote Wolverhampton city, which I enjoyed doing very much as I really do love living here,” she said.
“I wanted to portray that, despite common misconception, Wolverhampton is a great city with enormous potential and a truly wonderful community and atmosphere. My teacher recommended that I promote the city more often.”
She is now challenging others with her positive views, and describes Wolverhampton as “a name associated with a tarnished reputation”.
The Year 11 pupil said: “On the outside – the shell – Wolverhampton is portrayed as a frightful place but if you look beneath the surface, you see a truly vibrant city awash with community atmosphere, uniqueness and excitement.
“As much as their reputation might condemn them, Wulfrunians are just people trying to accomplish their own missions in life. You don’t have to reside in this city to feel like a Wulfrunian, you simply have to be willing to crack the shell and experience what’s inside.”
In April last year the city was ranked fifth out of the 13 most unhappy places to live in the country, after research conducted by the Office of National Statistics. The city’s high level of unemployment was a main factor in the rating.
But some of the city’s leaders were quick to come to its defence, including former mayor and Labour councillor Milkinder Jaspal, who said: “If people were unhappy they would move.” Wolverhampton-born radio presenter Dicky Dodd added: “I think it’s absolute rubbish. We’ve had all this come through before.
“These people who come out with these findings don’t know anything about the city, let alone live here.” In her essay, Victoria highlighted the sense of community spirit, the parks, the attractions, the schools, and the sense of history and culture – all elements she said Wolverhampton should be proud of.
She added: “It may be moaned about and criticised but there is no denying the love that a Wulfrunian has for its city. After all, it is home.”
Read Victoria's essay below
Wolverhampton city… A name associated with a tarnished reputation? I wouldn’t have blamed you if, on reading the opening two words, you solemnly decided to ignore the article; up until recently, I too would have felt somewhat reluctant to continue.
Before I embarked on my enlightening adventure which began when getting off the train at Wolverhampton station (as oppose to passing straight through to Birmingham), I would have thought the same as any other person ignorant of the unknown.
A run-down, forgotten, stuck in the past kind of city that also happens to be named “5 th most miserable city in the world”; on the surface – or the shell – this may appear to be believable.
However, as you look beyond the shell and delve deeper into the city’s industrious history, unique culture and diverse community – in other words, the yolk – you begin to realise that being bred as a Wulfrunian is a much more appetising prospect than the raw reputation would have you believe.
After setting myself up for the day with a breakfast of boiled eggs, my train pulled itself into Wolverhampton train station. Quickly realising the train had no intention of waiting there very long, I rushed off, prepared but apprehensive. The station was surrounded by neglected Victorian buildings, some of which had retained their original roofs; some, however, had no roofs at all… and not many windows, come to that.
The graffiti, clearly not for decorative purpose, only added to the dismal display.
I half expected an isolated station, misguidedly assuming the city’s residents were still lazing in bed. How mistaken I was.
I was actually met with a bustling little complex with people frantically arriving and departing though its doors, like the bubbles squeezing their way out of a boiling pan. People of all races, faiths and social statuses were worming their way around, each appearing to be on their own missions.
Being that it was only 8:30am, I suppose most of these missions included getting to work, an activity that I wrongly stereotyped people here to have little experience of.
The joys of Queen Street were fast approaching as I headed towards the city centre, generally referred to as, simply, ‘town’.
The temptations of the local haven, ‘Little dessert shop’ had proven too much and I was pleasantly surprised to find such a thriving, relatively new business. This discovery became rather frequent as I sauntered round, gradually feeling more comfortable in the new environment. Some people were even smiling.
When I eventually lead myself to the Mander Centre, the Bullring of Wolverhampton, I really did find very little to fault it on. I was told, by a member of the security staff, that the centre was undergoing a redevelopment which included the opening of a new H&M store and a huge
Debenhams store, all in addition to the array of shops already situated there.
He voluntarily – and enthusiastically – continued to tell me that, over the past year, he had noticed a significant difference in the city centre and that a huge amount of money was being invested in and around the area.
I decided to look into this further, thinking it may be an exaggeration. Once again, I was mistaken.
A colossal figure of £1 billion of private and public investment is currently being harnessed to completely transform and regenerate the city. Services, transport, retail, leisure and education are areas that have seen, and will continue to see improvements, therefore contributing to the desired regeneration of Wolverhampton.
A few of the most prominent development projects are the Jaguar Land rover factory (bringing £355 million of direct investment) and a new Porsche centre, the completion of a new bus station (part of a £22.6 million investment into transport links) and a project investing £286 million into the city’s secondary schools as well as renovations to the city’s university.
Undeniably, Wolverhampton is the proud home to some of the country’s highest performing schools. Wolverhampton Girls’ High school, a public grammar school, has been listed as 8th best school in the country and Wolverhampton Grammar school is labelled as one of the best private schools in the region, as well as the sporting and academic excellence of Highfields school; only a few examples of the education available here for the younger generation.
Outside of the classroom, children can never have a valid excuse for boredom. There are cinemas, parks, youth clubs and numerous, world-class sports facilities. Wolverhampton Swimming club, the oldest sporting group in the city, and Wolverhampton and Bilston athletics club - having not only national but also international success - are prime examples of the opportunities provided for young people in order for them to shine.
The likes of Denise Lewis, Liam Payne, Kristian Thomas, Robert Plant and Steve Bull (all Wulfrunians) prove that the opportunities in the city have the potential to lead you to greatness.
You only have to spend several hours walking around the city centre to witness the proximity of the local community; people locked in conversation whilst their children ran between them, conversing in their own fashion.
I struggled to come across many examples of the miserable miscreants I was led to expect… But maybe I had just come on a good day. The sense of history and culture was more than difficult to ignore as I walked comfortably around the beautiful architecture of St. Peter’s church and the magnificent art gallery – not a speck of graffiti in sight.
One element of this ever-surprising city that simply cannot be overlooked is the great, orange structure that lies at the very heart Wolverhampton – both physically and metaphorically.
The Molineux football stadium, home to the beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers, is a place of pure joy, pure anger and pure passion. The joy and the anger interchange depending on the events of the footballing season but no one could deny the ubiquitous passion. To be a wolves fan is a lifelong commitment and one which requires nothing more than simply a love for your team.
This reminded me of the city itself; it may be moaned about and criticized but there is no denying the love that a Wulfrunian has for its city. After all, it is home.
Quite regrettably, I made my way back to the station for my train home. The neglected Victorian buildings now didn’t seem so dismal; in fact I now saw them as reminiscent of the rich history connected to the surrounding area and suggesting a bond between past, present and future in Wolverhampton.
On the outside – the shell – Wolverhampton is portrayed as a frightful place but if you look beneath the surface, you see a truly vibrant city awash with community atmosphere, uniqueness and excitement.
Like an egg, the importance lies on the inside – the yolk – and, being a symbol of new life and reproduction, I chose an egg as the perfect comparison for this hugely developing city.
As much as their reputation might condemn them, Wulfrunians are just people trying to accomplish their own missions in life.
You don’t have to reside in this city to feel like a Wulfrunian, you simply have to be willing to crack the shell and experience what’s inside.
So take them how you want them, poached, fried or boiled.