Category: Poverty Porn

Positively Stockton-on-Tees campaign launched to hit back at ‘negativity’ of Benefits Street

A major new campaign has been launched to hit back against any negative portrayal of Stockton from the controversial show Benefits Street.

The Positively Stockton-on-Tees campaign is a light-hearted response to what is expected to be a less than flattering portrayal of the borough when the Channel 4 series airs next year.

And people across the borough and beyond are being encouraged to show their love for Stockton by sharing photographs, videos and stories.

A new website – http://www.positivelystocktonontees.co.uk – and social media accounts have been set up to kick-start the campaign.

The decision to film the second series of Benefits Street in Stockton caused widespread outrage, with some accusing Channel 4 of using “poverty tourism” to chase ratings.

The first series made stars of some of its cast but was described by critics as “poverty porn”.

After the story broke , Middlesbrough FC fans at the Riverside Stadium unveiled a banner reading “Being poor is not entertainment”.

But despite the fierce local and national criticism of the show, Channel 4 chief executive Ralph Lee said the broadcaster’s output would not be “censored”.

He defended the channel’s right “to tell the stories of some of the distressed parts of our society”.

Leader of Stockton Council, Councillor Bob Cook said:

“We did everything in our power to persuade the producers of Benefits Street to turn their attentions elsewhere. Sadly, you can’t win them all.

“What became clear, though, was that lots of people agreed with us that this is not a good thing for the borough.

“So, we’ve decided to focus our energies on turning a negative into a positive. We’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to respond to a series like Benefits Street is to celebrate, with good humour and quiet confidence, all that is great about our fine borough.”

The campaign will give people the opportunity to share their views on what they love about Stockton.

The council will support the campaign, but now want to “hand it over the public”, said Cllr Cook.

This is a borough-wide campaign for the whole of Stockton-on-Tees. We’re delighted that our local media – The Gazette, Northern Echo and BBC Tees – are in agreement with us and have agreed to unite in their support of us.

“Whether you’re from Stockton, Billingham, Yarm, Eaglescliffe, Thornaby, Norton or Ingleby Barwick, we’d love you to get involved.”

Benefits Street is expected to be aired in March 2015 and the Positively Stockton campaign – also known as “Psst…” – features a major event that same month.

Billed as The Loudest Whisper, the event on Friday, March 13, will see a whispered message passed around the borough – starting and ending in Kingston Road – where the series is being filmed.

The message will be passed from person to person using human chains as well as all kinds of transport, from horses and rowing boats to buses and bikes.

The event, which will also raise money for Comic Relief, is being organised by Wildcats of Kilkenny frontman and proud Stocktonian Mike McGrother.

“There has been an assumption from the producers of Benefits Street that we’re a community that needs to be given a voice,” he said.

“To present this as ‘factual’ television designed to engineer some kind of social benefit is a bit arrogant I think.

“There’s an abundance of community pride in Stockton – it’s just not our style to go shouting it from the rooftops. But if we’re faced with a series that seeks to paint us in an unfair light on national television, we shouldn’t take that lying down.

“Through the Loudest Whisper event and the Positively Stockton campaign, we can dispel the myths that will inevitably be trotted out using the sense of humour, community spirit and understated manner people in our borough are renowned for.

“And it’s all for Comic Relief. Our voices, though quiet, will be heard!”

The new campaign also has the support of Stockton’s MPs.

Alex Cunningham, Labour, in whose Stockton North constituency Benefits Street is being filmed, said:

“There is much for us to be positive about our borough from the talent and resilience of our people to the powerhouse of the local council and other organisations doing their best in difficult circumstances to create jobs, improve our town centres and make life better for us all.

“It is tremendous that our community is reacting in such a positive way.

“Doubtless Channel 4 will claim our campaign would never have happened but for their unwelcome intrusion into our community, but they will be wrong again – there have been many positive initiatives over the years promoting our success, which is perhaps why the borough is seeing its population grow and why it was voted one of the best places in the country to do business.”

James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, said:

“If you look around you in Stockton you see things getting better – more jobs, more investment, a town and community proud of its past and looking to its future.

“We need to talk up what makes us great and this campaign is a brilliant addition to that. Benefits Street will show what they want, we will show the truth and talk up Teesside.”

To find out more about the Positively Stockton-on-Tees campaign, and how to get involved, visit: www.positivelystocktonontees.co.uk

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 28 Nov 2014

Benefits Street Stockton likely to hit television screens in March 2015

The new series of Benefits Street being filmed on Teesside is likely to air in March next year.

The second series of the observational documentary series is being filmed in Kingston Road, Tilery, in Stockton.

It comes after the first – based in Birmingham – attracted huge controversy.

Sources close to the show havesaid that the first instalment of the second series of Benefits Street is expected to be shown on Channel 4 in March next year – although the exact date is still undecided.

The decision to film in Stockton caused widespread outrage, with some accusing Channel 4 of using “poverty tourism” to chase ratings.

The first series made stars of some of its cast but was described by some critics as “poverty porn”.

Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, accused the broadcaster of perpetuating a “monstrous travesty of reality”.

And Labour’s Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham wrote to every resident of Kingston Road asking them to “think again” about taking part in the documentary.

He also suggested the makers of the programme, Love Productions, should “get out of the town”.

After the story broke  in August that the show WAS being filmed on Teesside, Boro fans at the Riverside Stadium unveiled a banner reading “Being poor is not entertainment”.

Protest against Benefits Street at the Riverside
Protest against Benefits Street at the Riverside

Boro supporters’ group Red Faction were behind the banners unveiled in the south stand of the Riverside Stadium during Boro’s game against Reading.

Group member Steve Fletcher, 27, said at the time: “Shows like this demonise working class people. They need help, not mocking.”

However, the chief executive of Channel 4 defended its decision to make another series of Benefits Street in Stockton.

Despite the fierce local and national criticism of the show, Ralph Lee, boss of the channel, said that the broadcaster’s output would not be “censored”.

Mr Lee told a national newspaper:

We can’t let this kind of criticism have a chilling effect on making programmes.

“In a way what they are calling for is a form of censorship and I am always really suspicious of that.

“I defend our right – and the necessity – to tell the stories of some of the distressed parts of our society.”

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  24 Nov 2014

Benefits Street: MP accuses Channel 4 of using ‘poverty tourism’ to chase ratings

Channel 4 has been accused of perpetuating a “monstrous travesty of reality” by producing shows such as Benefits Street.

The second series of the show is being filmed in Kingston Road, Tilery, in Stockton, after the first – based in Birmingham – attracted huge controvery.

MP Austin Mitchell accused the broadcaster, which sparked controversy with the notorious show Benefits Street earlier this year, of using “poverty tourism” to chase ratings.

He made the comments as Channel 4 goes ahead with a second series of Skint, due to air next week, which was filmed in his Grimsby constituency despite local opposition.

The first instalment of the observational documentary series, an investigation into poverty in Scunthorpe, followed people living on the Westcliff estate.

The Labour MP told Radio Times magazine:

“Poverty isn’t an entertainment. It’s private, debilitating and alienating.”

Channel 4 has discovered that poverty tourism does more for ratings than celebrity culture, missions to explain or any highfalutin attempts to hold government to account.

“Kicking people when they’re down (and gullible) is so much easier and less expensive than intelligent programming.

“Victims don’t sue, and when do-gooders complain, they can always be accused of wanting to censor serious seekers after truth. So we get a proliferation of misery telly and programmes like Benefits Street, Immigration Street and Skint.”

He claimed that the broadcaster was stirring up antagonism against the poor and failing to show balance by neglecting to put the rich under the same spotlight.“Demonising the poor and turning deprivation into entertainment isn’t just deplorable, it’s dishonest,” he said.

Poverty has become an object of blame, as if scroungers are responsible for the size of the benefits bill, young people enjoy a life of idleness and ‘hard-working families’ are having to work for peanuts while lazy neighbours procreate.

“This is a monstrous travesty of reality and concentrates hatred on the least well-educated, most deprived.

“TV doesn’t even balance it with shows on the scandal of massive tax evasion and avoidance by corporations and the rich, the luxurious lifestyle of the City and Taxhaven on Thames or the excesses of the Wolf of Wall Street.”

> Well of course they don’t – those people own them !

He urged Channel 4 to “think again”, adding: “Why not turn the cameras on the bankers punishing the poor, with Benefits Bankers, Tax-Evading Toffs and Fiddling Financiers? When is television going to do its job and take on all that? All it needs is guts and a sense of fairness.”

> See my previous comment.

The first series of Benefits Street, filmed in Birmingham, made stars of some of its cast but was described by some critics as “poverty porn”.

Programme-makers faced opposition in Stockton, the location for the new series of Benefits Street, and in Southampton, where spin-off series Immigration Street was being filmed.

Channel 4 executive Ralph Lee recently defended the shows, saying: “We can’t let this kind of criticism have a chilling effect on making programmes.

“In a way what they are calling for is a form of censorship and I am always really suspicious of that. I defend our right – and the necessity – to tell the stories of some of the distressed parts of our society.”

> In a way that perpetuates the stereotypes our tax-evading masters wish us to…

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 18 Nov 2014

Benefits Street: Channel 4 boss defends filming of second series in Stockton

The chief executive of Channel 4 has defended its decision to make another series of Benefits Street in Stockton.

Despite fierce local and national criticism of the show, Ralph Lee, boss of the channel, said that the broadcaster’s output would not be ‘censored’.

The second series of Benefits Street is being filmed on Kingston Road, in Tilery in Stockton – leading to MPs and council leaders condemning the show, community groups launching a petition and Boro fans unveiling a banner at the Riverside Stadium reading “Being poor is not entertainment”.

Protest against Benefits Street at the Riverside
Protest against Benefits Street at the Riverside

 

But Mr Lee told a national newspaper:

We can’t let this kind of criticism have a chilling effect on making programme” .

“In a way what they are calling for is a form of censorship and I am always really suspicious of that. I defend our right – and the necessity – to tell the stories of some of the distressed parts of our society.”

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham wrote to every resident of Kingston Road asking them to “think again” about taking part in the Channel 4 documentary.

The Labour MP had already suggested the makers of the programme, Love Productions, should “get out of the town” after accusing them of setting people up for “entertainment purposes only”.

And two Stockton mums Charlotte Hall and Di Hewitt launched an online petition, attracting 1,700 names, asking  Love Productions to leave Stockton.

Middlesbrough football supporters group, Red Faction, were behind the banners unveiled in the south stand of the Riverside Stadium during Boro’s game against Reading.

Group member Steve Fletcher, 27 said at the time:

“I was hoping it would catch people’s eye at the match and help raise awareness.

“I don’t think the show will paint Teesside in a particularly good light. It is trivialising a serious social issue.

“Shows like this demonise working class people. They need help not mocking.”

Business and council leaders condemned the filming, saying that it would “misrepresent” Stockton.

And proud Stocktonian Mike McGrother, frontman in local band Wildcats of Kilkenny, caused an internet storm when he sent an impassioned letter praising the town to producers.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  28 Oct 2014

Stockton cameraman hits back at Benefits Street being filmed in Stockton with positive video

A cameraman has hit back at controversial TV show Benefits Street being filmed in the North with his own homage to his beloved hometown.

Crews from Love Productions are filming the second series of the TV show, which follows people living off benefits, on Kingston Road in Stockton for Channel Four.

But Karl Coates, who has worked as a cameraman and producer for Sky News and BBC, said he fears the controversial TV show will only show Stockton in a negative light.

In a rebuttal to the image he expects the programme to portray of his beloved hometown, the cameraman has gone out to film his own short video to show all the great things about the area.

In the short videos  Karl states that Stockton, Teesside and the North East “will yet again be hung out to dry”.

The video has already had more than 8,300 views since being published on YouTube in August and initially shows shots of a street, believed to be the one the crew of Benefits Street are filming on. Karl then changes the tone of the video and words flash across the screen saying:

You will not however see any of these shots. The real Stockton my hometown”.

He then goes on to show landmarks such as the Infinity Bridge, by day and night, as well as the Tees Barrage,the Teesside Princess, the North Shore development, and the £38m regeneration of the high street.

In the video he says some residents are keen to be involved in a film showing Stockton in a positive light and are proud of where they live.

Karl said:

“An entire generation are about to be stigmatised, and that’s online globally through social media and within seconds when these programmes are broadcast to the outside world and for those who don’t know Stockton, its history and proud people, it will be forever associated as the town that’s on benefits.

Not as the home of the world’s first passenger railway or the invention of the friction match that lit up our planet, or indeed the town that’s having a 40 million pound make over that looks absolutely stunning.

“This program will have a direct impact on inward investment, jobs, trade, tourism and self-esteem.”

 

 

Karl added:

“Sometimes in life you have to jump off that fence and stand up for what you believe is right and I could give you a hundred reasons why filming Benefit’s Street in Stockton is simply wrong.

Love Productions say they are giving the minority a voice, well we all have a voice and its up to us to choose whether or not we use it, I’m afraid Love Productions, we have all seen the last series and are simply not stupid.”

Concerns have already been raised by MPs and other residents in the area about the filming of the show in Stockton following the first series which followed residents in an area of Birmingham.

He added:

“There is massive support from people who see the damage this programme will do to our community and I have a camera and all we can do it inform people what is going on and paint Stockton in the most picture perfect light possible. We can show people our Stockton, the real Stockton before the entire nation judges us.”

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  12 Oct 2014

Benefits Street-style ‘welfare ghettos’ are a myth, according to Teesside research

The idea of ‘welfare ghettos’ full of streets where nobody works is a myth, according to research carried out in Middlesbrough by a Teesside University academic.

Professor Rob MacDonald says the concept of ‘benefits streets‘ – brought to the public’s attention by the television programme currently filming its second series in Stockton – don’t exist.

Residents of Kingston Road on Stockton’s Tilery Estate will feature in the next run of the Channel 4 show, due to be broadcast early next year.

A popular misconception of such areas, Mr MacDonald says, is that they are dominated by families who haven’t worked over generations and that unemployment is the preferred way of life.

Instead, his research found, even in deprived areas most households contain people who work and younger people want to find jobs.

The first series of Benefits Street, filmed on James Turner Street in Birmingham, was met with tabloid headlines about “90% of residents on hands-out” and “the street where 9 out of 10 households are on welfare“.

But Mr MacDonald says those figures are misleading.

His research, conducted along with Professor Tracy Shildrick from Leeds University and Professor Andy Furlong from Glasgow University, was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Their studies in Middlesbrough and Glasgow focused on 20 families and aimed to find out whether some popular ideas about the unemployed were actually myths.

Mr MacDonald said:

In seeking neighbourhoods to test out the ideas, we selected areas with very high levels of worklessness – perhaps like the makers of Benefits Street.

“Even with these extreme cases, the majority of local people of working age were not on unemployment benefits. This is a far cry from the situation where an entire community sits on benefits for life.”

In James Turner Street recent statistics have shown that between 62% and 65% of households have somebody in employment – meaning that 35% to 38% of households could be described as workless.

Mr MacDonald said:

“In this sense, James Turner Street is very similar to the neighbourhoods we researched in Glasgow and Middlesbrough.”

Confirmation that Benefits Street was being filmed on Teesside caused widespread anger.

The Gazette’s photographer was egged while taking pictures of film crews on Kingston Road, Boro fans have displayed banners protesting against the series and families have started petitions against the programme.

Love Productions, the company behind the series, insists its intention is to give the communities taking part “a voice“.

In the university research, of the younger people interviewed who did not have jobs, most had brothers and sisters who were working.

Mr MacDonald added:

“This throws into doubt theories that rely on the idea that individuals are so swamped by negative role models and so bereft of positive examples of people in jobs that they learn that worklessness is the norm and to be preferred.

“The idea of ‘benefit ghettos’ where unemployment is a ‘lifestyle choice’ is a powerful one that helps justify the government’s cuts to welfare budgets. Yet our research has demonstrated that this is a myth, in the sense that it does not reflect the facts of the matter.

“If a culture of worklessness cannot be found in the extremely deprived neighbourhoods we studied, then they are unlikely to explain more general patterns of worklessness in the UK.”

In response to the research, the government insisted that “sadly, joblessness isn’t a myth”.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said:

“In 2010, the number of families with no one working peaked at over 3.9 million.

“Latest figures show that this has fallen by 450,000 suggesting we were right to implement a radical overhaul of the welfare system.

“We are very careful about the language we use – making it clear that it is very often the system itself that has trapped people on benefits.”

The study that Mr MacDonald contributed to, ‘Benefits Street and the Myth of Workless Communities’, was published in the Sociological Research journal.

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 12 Sept 2014

 

212,000 People ‘Beaten Up For Being On Benefits’, Shocking Survey Reveals

Up to 212,000 people have been ‘beaten up for being on benefits’ as a direct result of the despicable ‘scrounger’ rhetoric in the media and ‘poverty porn’ TV programmes, a shocking new survey reveals today.

A survey by YouGov reveals the devastating impact of newspaper benefits propaganda, and ‘poverty porn’ programmes like Channel 4’s Benefits Street, on some of Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

 The YouGov survey shows that up to 212,000 people have been attacked for being on benefits, while 11% had even been shunned by their own families.

YouGov asked 2,352 benefit claimants:

“Have you ever been verbally or physically abused because you are on benefits?”

15% said they had experienced verbal abuse and 4% admitted they had been physically assaulted.

If the survey had asked every single benefit claimant in the UK it would suggest that nearly 212,000 have been physically assaulted.

6% of respondents said their children had been victims of bullies, while 16% said they had been turned down for a home for being in receipt of benefits.

Campaigners and charities are now calling on the media and the government to end their use of socially divisive language, which is turning British society against itself.

Philipp Newis from the Who Benefits? campaign told the Daily Mirror:

“We’ve heard a lot of negative talk from politicians about benefit claimants, even though these are people who might need support for all sorts of reasons.

“Around 4.3million families receiving benefits are in work, but earning too little to get by.

“Many others are ill, caring for a loved one or have lost their job. It could happen to any one of us.”

The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of a number of charities including Gingerbread, MIND and the Children’s Society.

Its findings will be sent to a report which is investigating whether benefit claimants are being treated like second-class citizens.

Source – Welfare News Service,  09 Sept 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/212000-people-beaten-benefits-shocking-survey-reveals/

Petition against Benefits Street being filmed in Stockton gathers pace

A petition against Benefits Street being filmed in Stockton has gained more than a 1000 signatures.

The campaign was started on change.org by two Stockton mums Charlotte Hall and Di Hewitt little over a week ago and has been shared across social media.

In total 1,409 people have signed the petition on the site – which is the world’s largest petition platform – against the show being filmed on Kingston Road at Tilery, Stockton.

They took to Stockton High Street today to collect yet more signatures.

Their Twitter account @StocktonSaysNo also has more than 500 followers – and Twitter users have joined discussion of the topic using #NoBenefitsStreet.

Once the pair have finished collecting signatures they will be delivered to both Channel 4 and the production company Love Productions.

Social worker and mum of two Di, who lives in Eaglescliffe, said:

“Through my work, I’m impressed by the strong community spirit in the North- east and feel that it is important that outsiders see this rather than negative stereotypes.

“I’m not originally from Stockton, I moved up from the East Midlands 22 years ago and think that Stockton is a fantastic place to live and raise children.

“I want my kids to feel that Stockton is a good place to live and work and that there are endless opportunities for them.”

Carer and mum of two Charlotte, from Stockton, said:

“I was born in Stockton and have lived here all my life.

“Only a few weeks ago after enjoying SIRF and attending the 1245 Sunflowers events I was saying how far Stockton has come and how there’s so much to get involved in.

“I don’t want to see that hard work ruined by our town being associated with a stigmatising programme like Benefits Street.”

Chris Flanagan, from Stockton, said on the petition page:

“Sixth best place to live one week…Benefits Street the next!”.

Emma-Bliss Harding, from Norton, said:

“I live in Norton and heard they were filming at the duck pond which is near my house.

“I don’t want the area that I love in displayed in a bad light.

“This programme is nothing but negative.”

Hayley Garland, from Stockton, said:

“We are proud of our town, our heritage, arts, culture and thriving independent shops.

“Take your sensationalist TV somewhere else!”

Christine Thompson, from Stockton, said:

My hometown is starting to get back on its feet and I fear that this will be a big backward step.”

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  04 Sept 2014

Benefits Street 2: Middlesbrough football fans display banners attacking new series

 

Banners attacking the decision to film the new series of Benefits Street in Teesside

Banners attacking the decision to film the new series of Benefits Street on Teesside were flown at the weekend’s Middlesbrough match.

Two were on display at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday – slamming the decision to film the Channel 4 show on Kingston Road at Tilery, Stockton.

One banner read “Being poor is not entertainment” while the other said “f*** Benefit Street”.

The Boro supporters group, Red Faction are the group behind the banners, and have spoken about why they took the step to take them to the Middlesborough vs Reading game.

I was hoping it would catch people’s eye at the match and help raise awareness,” said group member Steve Fletcher, 27.

I don’t think the show will paint Teesside in a particularly good light. It is trivialising a serious social issue.

“Shows like this demonise working class people. They need help not mocking.”

I am a proud Teessider,” added Steve, a telephone engineer. “I am proud of where I come from and don’t think this show should be filmed here.

Filming of the second series of the hugely controversial TV show Benefits Street is under way in Stockton.

Source –  Daily Mirror,  03 Sept 2014

Benefits Street: Kingston Road residents urged to quit controversial TV show by MP

Stockton residents being filmed for Benefits Street are being urged by their MP to quit the controversial TV show.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has written to every resident of Kingston Road asking them to “think again” about taking part in the Channel 4 documentary.

The Labour MP has already suggested the makers of the programme, Love Productions, should “get out of the town” after accusing them of setting people up for “entertainment purposes only”.

And yesterday he paid a visit to the street in Tilery to make sure residents “understand exactly what they have got themselves into.”

 

He said: “I spoke with several residents who told me they and their neighbours were opposed to the programme and wanted no part of it.

“They said just a few people wanted it, but the area was already suffering from troublemakers coming in from other areas to play up to the cameras.”

The MP said he left the street after two Love Production camera crews “followed my every step”.

In his letter to the residents he says: “The television executives claim a high moral purpose to give people who they say don’t have a voice a chance to speak out about their problems and how they feel let down.

“But what they haven’t outlined is the immense intrusion there will be into participants’ lives by themselves and large parts of the media who won’t be there to do the people of our area any favours.”

He goes on: “I hope that if you are one of the people thinking of taking part that you will think again, recognise what it will really mean for you, your family and local residents, and tell Love Productions their programme isn’t for you or our community.”

Helen Goodman MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture, was in Stockton yesterday visiting Preston Hall Museum and took time out of her schedule to meet Louise Baldock, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South, to discuss Benefits Street.

Helen said: “A lot of good things are happening in Stockton at Preston Hall and the Arc, so why does Channel 4 persist in perpetuating these dreary negative stereotypes? Benefits Street is not a serious documentary and serves only to make entertainment out of poverty and hardship.”

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  30 Aug 2014