Mulling over ‘Benefits Street’ on Channel 4 last night, about James Turner street that ran directly behind our former church in Winson Green and one we know very well.

Apparently the residents are livid at the way the documentary has been edited, showing the worst side of living there. I’m not sure they are right – in amidst all the social and emotional chaos we knew so well, there is also genuine care for others and some touching and funny moments.Β 

It’s a series, and will include our former church, our URC Community Minister, and some of the things the church is doing with the neighbourhood (although they might not show the week we cleaned up the street!). Monday evenings 9pm.



  1. Darn it I wanted to watch that and I completely missed it I will have to catch it on 4OD It is the usual Documentary spin on it no doubt but from the adverts I saw some real emotion in that show too.


  2. Programmes like this always bring concerns to my mind – so many of us realise that there is a degree of ‘artistic license’ with what they report and portray, in order to highlight a point or ethos. The concern is the viewers that take what the programme shows as utter truth and amend or build their opinions and behaviour upon it 😦


  3. My colleague was talking about this. She has never had to live on benefits but seems to know all about it. I grew up in a family on benefits surrounded by people on benefits, after all they do tend to stick us all in the same place. Most people were just trying to get on, some scroungers but mostly not. truly fed up with ‘reality ‘ tv.


    1. Yes, it’s my experience that people at the bottom of the heap tend to help each other. What was clear was that the government action in cutting benefits is making people feel desperate, and is pushing a lot of people into crime. I think most people would prefer not to live on benefits but to have a job – but many people just don’t know how to get out of their situation.


    1. I don’t know, except Channel 4 got in touch with me during the Winson Green riots a couple of years ago and said they were interested in making a programme and could they follow us around with their cameras? I said emphatically not. However, it’s gone ahead since we were there, so I can only presume that they contacted the people who live in that street (who have to give their permission) anyway.

      I did notice, however, a handwritten notice sellotaped to one door saying ‘NO JURNALISTS’.


      1. The riots are far enough away to be a memory, though, no doubt, a revived one at the start of such a programme. Would producers compare and contrast say, with Liverpool, or Tottenham, or, other areas of London that have had similar more recent experiences?

        The criteria for the selection of Winson Green ought to be transparent, but then, maybe that is too much to ask for.

        Not having seen the programme it is difficult to comment on it in any meaningful way.


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