Channel 4 is showing a 3 part series about a housing estate called Westcliff in Scunthorpe.
The intention of the programme is to show what life is like during the recession when people are hard up.
What the programme actually does is show an estate in the worst light that it can.
Journalists working for the Daily Mail must have been cheering from the roof tops as this programme will keep them in sensational, single mums & people on benefits are scum columns for weeks.
We have Dean. Father of 7. Him & his partner are reliant on benefits. The programme makers have glossed over the fact that Dean worked at the local steal works for 23 years until it closed down.
Hayley has 5 children by 3 fathers & is also reliant on the benefits system. We saw her getting married to her partner. She is 21. In 5 years her youngest will go to school & Hayley, who came across as an articulate young lady, will be able to train & go out & get a job. Lets say she’s back out at work by 28, she could do at least 40 years working.
We were also shown how utterly beholden to the benefits system she was. Tax credits decided they hadn’t been informed that her partner was living with her, so immediately stopped the benefit while a joint application was being made. Hayley had £5 left & twin babies to provide milk for as well as feeding her other 3 children. She ended up at a food bank. Hayley also pointed out that if she let her babies go hungry & without nappies, the authorities wouldn’t be happy. And yet she was left with no money to provide these essentials.
Whatever you think of the benefits system, it should not treat its clients with such disdain. They are playing with real people’s lives & generally speaking, lack of money has a great impact on the children.
Quite heartbreaking was a young girl called Jamilia. She was 16 years old. She had clearly been let down since the day she was born. There were no parents around or any other responsible adults. She had a baby at 15 who was taken away from her after the birth. Jamilia was quite open about the fact that her life right now was too chaotic to have her baby live with her. She was living in shared accommodation with amongst others, a heroin addict. She was an angry girl & to be honest, it’s hardly surprising. She’s had a hideous life so far & no prospects for her future. She made herself up to go to court, in the hope that if she looked good, her baby could stay in foster care till she was settled & not go for adoption. The baby was put up for adoption. At the end of last nights programme, Jamilia is seen in her own flat. I am torn between thinking her baby has been taken from her permanently, before she had a chance to settle down & thinking that hopefully the cycle of poverty & neglect had stopped for now.
The rich programme makers have found themselves some people who may be desperate for a bit of fame. Or just something to liven up the daily grind of poverty. It has managed to show benefits claimants in the worst light possible.
I am waiting for a programme that shows tax avoiders in the worst light possible as well.