I’ve had a few chats with people on Twitter recently, and I’ve got so many more blog post ideas to write about. Things I think need to be seen from other perspectives, not just our own. I’ll be getting around to writing those soon, but for now this is a topic I really wanted to address really quickly. There’s a lot of anger surrounding the idea of scroungers, people who do nothing and don’t want to do anything while still getting state handouts and working the system to their benefit. I can see why people would be upset about this, especially when they themselves have had to work hard for all they have – while others are just simply given it for no real discernible reason.
Scroungers have been a hot topic in the media, from television shows, to the government’s own policies to try and cut down on “benefit cheats” and so forth. But as I’ve said in other posts, I grew up on a council estate, and yeah, there are scroungers. I don’t ever pretend there aren’t, but they really aren’t the majority or even what you would think they are.
I know this is really anecdotal, but in my experience council estates and social housing in general aren’t filled with smart people trying to work the system and live on benefits forever. It’s filled with people who are down on their luck, have ended up in bad situations or just can’t afford to live anywhere else. My parents split up and that’s how we ended up in “The Square” as it was nicknamed – because of the four maisonettes that surrounded the square ‘courtyard’, a giant square slab of grimey, weathered and weeds cracked concrete. Each maiosnette had four, two-floor houses on top, and four of the same below. That’s 16 houses in total packed densely packed into an area where you would usually put half that amount. There were 5 other maisonettes just outside of the square, as well as various other council properties too.
The scale of the housing estate is kind of important, because just in the square alone, there were several struggling families, asylum seekers, elderly people, drug addicts, and single parents. Nobody there was “doing well” by any means – especially not financially. We were all just doing what we could to get by.
See, the ‘scroungers’ I lived around weren’t just trying to live comfy lives without having to put the effort in. They were just people, they were my neighbours, they were struggling to get by and making the best of their bad situations. A lot of them had given up, and were desperate for any help they could get until they could get back on their feet. Nobody wanted to live in The Square forever. Parents would talk about moving out, finding new places that were better to raise kids in, the drug addicts would talk to us and warn us kids not to do drugs or we’d end up like them. The strawman idea of people who are just working the system for their benefit and living comfortable lives because of it, simply isn’t true. At least not in my experience it isn’t.
Its easy to demonise and dehumanise people as just being “scroungers” especially with the media and the language surrounding them in recent times. Just as we managed to do with Syrian refugees, we need to rehumanise them – show the world that they are just people, and they need a little more help. Not this endless vendetta against an idea of them that isn’t even close to the reality these people live through. Please stop calling people “scroungers” – they are people.