The Channel 4 programme Skint has caught my attention recently. Much like BBC Three’s Growing Up Poor earlier in the year, this series is following the lives of residents of a council estate in Scunthorpe.
The main reason I am enjoying the programme is due to the clever way that it engages with both sides of the story. The stereotypical notion is there for a reason. This week’s episode had a particular case that was frustrating. There was a girl the same age as me who already had five children, three different fathers. It is not for me to comment on the lifestyles other people have chosen, but it was the arrogance of this girl that riled me. She was complaining about not having enough money to buy formula due to her benefits being cut, but in the background of the shot was the most enormous TV. It was adorned with all of the latest gadgetry. How can people have such a warped perception of money that they purchase such expensive items when they can’t even afford to cater for the necessities?
There seemed to be a dire lack of understanding concerning budget and “living within your means” for these people. They have no concept of cutting back in order to save money. It gets my goat that some people think it is their birth right to take handouts from a system that they didn’t contribute to. There was a lack of striving amongst the people featured, no sense of self-improvement. I wonder if this is a culture-led expectation within Scunthorpe.
However, another girl on the programme should be commended. My heart strings twinged as this fifteen year old informed the cameraman that her daughter had been taken into care. It was horrible to see the sorrow that filled her eyes after being separated from her daughter, but she was brave enough to admit that her current situation wasn’t adequate to raise a child. There was a shining light at the end of the programme though, as she moved into her new flat. I do hope they do a follow up later on in the series.
I will continue to watch the series as it shows just how much people can step up in the face of adversity and lead a comfortable life with next to nothing. But it also addresses stereotypes, not as fanciful imaginings, but based on real life people. There are people who would abuse the systems in place in this country that are designed to help people. Some people need assistance when they hit rock bottom, and they deserve it. Some people need to get off their leather sofas, stop being so dependant and use a bit of ingenuity to improve their lives and the lives of their children.