Posted: 21 January 2014

Benefits Street and 10 facts about childhood poverty

Even if you haven’t watched Benefits Street, chances are you will have heard of it.

The Channel 4 documentary series has sparked a heated discussion about the way people who claim benefits are portrayed in the media. As well as coverage in the press, lots of people have taken to social networks like Twitter to add their voice to the debate.

We know from our work with some of the country’s most disadvantaged families that the overwhelming majority of people who get benefits really need them; whether they are working, looking for work or unable to work. Back in September we were one of five charities that helped launched the Who Benefits? campaign, to make sure those who need support from benefits aren’t ignored, misrepresented or, at worst, blamed for their situation.

Joining the debate on Twitter

As Tuesday's episode of Benefits Street focused on parents and families, we thought it was particularly important for us to join the debate on Twitter, to help make sure this side of the story was heard. We were really pleased to see that whilst not everyone agreed with what we had to say, lots of people did at least listen.

Have a look at our most popular tweet of the night, which pointed out that most children in poverty and receiving benefits actually live in working households.

This tweet has been shared more than 360 times. This meant that over 445,700 people potentially saw what we had to say, seventeen times our usual reach.

It was great to see that so many people like us are keen to share the facts about poverty and benefits. If like us, you think that Benefits Street shows that Channel 4 need to commission more responsibly, please sign the Who Benefits petition.


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By Lizzie Murray - Digital team

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I get so angry the way people have jumped on this bandwagon of looking down their noses at people on benefits. I am not on benefits so offer an impartial view, but I watched benefits street and had nothing but compassion for those people who I feel society has ended them up in their vicious cycle and let them down and now people are kicking them while they are. It sickens me and has actually made me feel quite depressed at the new social media ranters who make themselves feel somewhat empowered by giving these people a harder time than they are clearly currently already having and without the hard facts before they do other than reading a daily newspaper and being brainwashed by that rubbish. I can't believe I have watched the same programme they have just talked about. I ask those people would you swap your lives for theirs? Do you believe you will be better off in the long run? Do you think there are enough jobs out there for those people of benefits street to be employed? Do you not think that all this sensationalism has diverted your attention away from the bigger picture of in work poverty. It's fair to say we all wanted a change in the system but this is not what I for one wanted nor is it what we where promised, we where promised for it to pay to work, not you will pay if you don't! a big society where we all look out for each other!!! Not one where only if you are educated! I have looked on the job sites and it reminds me of the early 90s with lots of sales jobs with 100% commission only like the one featured in the programme, those kind of jobs you work long hours it actually costs people money to work and get nothing because no one is buying. If that's a start of the sign of things to come then it will be a long time before the recession is over even though we are told it is nearly!! Instead of fighting the helpless then fight for rights of workers which seem to be being ignored! In that kind of society crime is going to get extremely prominent! Are you really jealous of the way those people are living just because you saw a large screen tv? I for sure didn't see any luxury, do you really think that also represents everyone on benefits? God forbid you lose your job tomorrow and have to be a claimant! Which is what you are petitioning for! I know I would be unable to survive on it! Benefits should be good. There are other ways, look at how that guy was adamant he wasn't going to go to work probably not because he chooses to but because he feels so low about himself that he feels he has nothing to offer and when he was speaking with the guy who was doing his cv for him, he felt positive he wanted to better himself and was inspired only to go to one of those horrendous jobs that paid him nothing only to be deflated again! Why can't people see that they are actually making the situation a lot worse!

Thanks for getting in touch. We fully agree that people shouldn’t be made to feel bad about claiming support from benefits. The Who Benefits? campaign we support is an opportunity for people to share their stories about what it’s really like to receive benefits. We hope that doing this will help to change the debate. Search #WeAllBenefit on Twitter or visit the Who Benefits? website to find out more and show your support: