I hate that they have created a TV series that enforces the stereotypes held by those that have been fortunate enough not to have experienced the benefits world.
I know the view held about those on benefits because not being your stereotypical benefits claimant I tend to hear these views regularly. People on benefits are seen as undeserving, uneducated, worthless, tracksuit wearing, lazy, smoking scum. People hold this view that those on benefits are below everyone else and that benefits claimants want to live life that way. We are incredibly lucky to have been born on this land and to have a safety net surrounding us that means we will be supported. If we get cancer we can get treatment and if that cancer is terminal then we can leave work and enjoy the last few weeks of our life supported by the state. If a woman is raped, falls pregnant and gives birth to that child then child benefits help her get by. Society tends to judge everyone on benefits but doesn’t tend to understand that most people don’t want to be in that situation.
There is a small minority that abuse the system but because the media only tell us about that it tends to look like the majority. The news reports on a murderer, it doesn’t then report on the billions of people that didn’t murder that day. Murderers are also a small minority.
There is so much stigma around claiming benefits, I remember when I first started claiming them I felt so ashamed and I wouldn’t tell anyone. I had spent the majority of the year in hospital, I was an A grade student with no choice but to drop out of education because I was too unwell and yet I didn’t feel I deserved benefits. Even now, typing this, I fear I will be sent hate by those that don’t understand. We all need money to live, we all need money to buy sanitary towels and food and to pay the electric and water bill but only some of us are lucky enough to be in a position where we can go out to work to get that money. Not everybody has good health, not everybody is able to walk and some people have gone through unbearable pain and trauma. These people need support, not discrimination.
Just because somebody claims benefits, it doesn’t mean that they don’t contribute to society. That somebody might volunteer on their good days or run a blog supporting others with similar problems to them. Not everyone on benefits sleeps in and then spends the rest of the day smoking and having a laugh. Benefits are not a comfortable way to live. The majority of people don’t fiddle the system and therefore live on barely enough to have a roof over their head, they certainly can’t afford holidays and they also experience shame, discrimination and isolation. I can say that my life plan involves working and a lot of contributing to society, I do not want to be a benefits claimant but sometimes there is little choice.