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Campaign launched to fight back against 'TV poverty porn'

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Campaign launched to fight back against 'TV poverty porn'

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

house house

By Cheryl Tracy, Michala Rudman and Elisa Faulkner

We’ve all seen or heard about the rash of sensationalist television programmes that pass for quality documentary film-making these days. Programmes like 'Benefits Street', 'On Benefits and Proud' and more recently 'How to get a Council House' are just some of the examples of what has been described as a new TV genre of “poverty porn”.  

These programmes do highlight some of the issues caused by the UK’s housing crisis. However, they fail to look deeper into what got us here in the first place, preferring instead to demonise social housing tenants and use them as easy targets to focus society’s frustrations and blame.

The media portrayal of social housing is undeniably significant as it has a direct impact on the attitudes and opinions of the general public.  A cursory trip through the Twitter hashtag line '#howtogetacouncilhouse' brings you into contact with at best judgmental and at worst downright vile comments about the people featured in the programme. The comments are overwhelmingly negative and damaging.  It is all too easy to demonise those who are ‘voiceless’ rather than challenge and question how we can change the situation. 

So, we decided “Enough is enough!”

We think it’s time to change the story. In the absence of great, informative reporting on the positive impact of social housing on people’s lives, CouncilHomesChat provides a space where those stories can be told.

Social housing has been the springboard starting-point in life for people; it has been the safety net for people who have experienced sometimes catastrophic change in their lives; and it has been a richly rewarding career choice for thousands of men and women across the UK. These are the stories that we rarely hear in the sensationalised portrayal of social housing.

CouncilHomesChat was set up to tell the side of the story that the media so often fails to tell. It provides those who live, work and believe in social housing with the opportunity to tell their stories and shout about their positive experiences. It’s about changing the conversation and challenging the damaging stereotypes.  Ultimately, it’s about getting people to care again about social housing and to realise how it benefits us as a society.

In the past week people have been creating short videos, taking photographs, tweeting and writing blogs about what social housing means to them. Tenants, staff and others have been joining together to change the story. We’ve replied to the haters and the judgers on Twitter to try to redress the balance. And in the last week of the programme we’ve planned a Twitter 'thunderclap' to be felt at the beginning of the programme, with fantastic sector-wide support from the likes of Grainia Long (CIH), Julia Unwin (Joseph Rowntree Foundation), Steve Meakin MBE (TPAS England) Steve Clarke (Welsh Tenants Federation), TPAS Cymru, TPAS Scotland, SHOUT and a whole range of other tenants, staff, and organisations across the UK.  

We’re grateful to everyone who has supported the campaign so far. But we need more and more reach if we’re to really change the story for the future.

So please join in – follow us on twitter @councilhomechat and add your voice now to the hundreds of others that support this campaign by joining in tonight’s thunderclap here: http://t.co/lwEOy0JeN1

You can also follow us via facebook https://m.facebook.com/Ilovecouncilhousing and our blog: http://councilhomeschat.wordpress.com/

 

Cheryl, Michala and Elisa are all Welsh housing professionals

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