My husband, grew up on one of the poorest and roughest Council Estates in South Wales.
Three years ago, his childhood friend Darren, died in his flat alone. He was an alcoholic and had problems holding down a steady job. He was one of those Benefit Scroungers we keep hearing about. Darren’s dad left him and his mum when he was eleven years old. His stepdad was an alcoholic and a big man, he used to beat Darren up on a daily basis. My husband remembers his friend coming to school with bruises, a broken nose and on one occasion, broken ribs. Instead, of addressing the abuse Darren was dealing with at home, the school decided the reason Darren was failing in all his subjects was because he was stupid. So, they transferred him to a “Special” school where he was treated like scum. Finally, Darren’s mother and stepdad kicked him out and he went to live with his very elderly Nan. Darren never recovered from his trauma, he never felt good enough, but he was a loyal friend and he could fight. Many times he saved my husband from being beaten up. Darren was tough and fast. I met Darren, he was funny, extremely intelligent and cared about people.
This is just one boy’s story, but there are hundreds of children going through similar situations in communities like this all over the UK. You will hear people say, “Those on benefits are lazy and it is all about “Hard Work“, but that is the bullshit the middle and upper classes tell themselves to justify their own privileged backgrounds. The truth is, your fate in life is decided by which family you were born into, the school you attended and the place you live. Life is hard for the people who still live on the council Estate in South Wales. They have known nothing else, but the harshness of being born into a community where generations have suffered poor education and high unemployment. The damage done by Thatcher’s government has been irreversible.
So, the next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone who believes the poor are “Benefit Scroungers“, instead of hitting them on the head, (Which is very tempting I know) tell them Darren’s story.