Growing Up Poor: Review


Growing Up Poor

BBC3, 9 January, 9pm

I was having a chat the other day with someone on Facebook, the cycle of conversation meandered along until we ended up debating the way in which our honourable and esteemed Coalition are attempting to get the UK’s bank balance back on track.

I won’t go into who said what or who turned out to be a slightly sociopathic, borderline Nazi with no understanding of the lives of those dependent on benefits. But whoever it was, I think a look at BBC3’s ‘Growing Up Poor’ might help illuminate the darker patches of their ignorance.

Or they may just laugh it off as liberal propaganda.

The first in a two part documentary about the lives of young Britons, who have grown up on the bread line, focuses on the day-to-day lives of three girls over summer.

There is trouble maker Bridie, teen mom-to-be Amber and struggling Shelby. As you would expect (you know what people are like), they all have very different personalities, hopes and dreams and live in different parts of the country. The one thing they have in common however, is they lead an almost hand to mouth existence, surviving on benefits.

Following the film makers as they capture the three teens different lives, we learn about how tough life can be in the UK at sharp end of modern Britain.

All three girls were on the cusp of changing their lives but were a wee bit trapped by circumstance and their own idiosyncrasies

You may argue that people at all levels of society have to deal with the same problems but that would be disingenuous. The people at the bottom get the full force of the bureaucracy thrown at them, where the middle classes and upwards often get a break or two (me included but that’s a story for another time and place) where a mistake is overlooked and a change in Government policy does not mean the choice between heating and eating.

For example, Bridie’s scrape with the law means she has to delay the joining the Army, when she admits that she even though she doesn’t like it, she needs the discipline to help her grow and mature.

Or Shelby who works full time on a work placement, for the pleasure of receiving her Job Seekers Allowance, is thrown into panic when the Coalition’s decision (now reversed) to stop Housing Benefit for under 25’s is announced

As I have said before, I am not one for human interest documentaries and programmes as I I feel that they obscure objective thinking. However, Growing Up Poor is a well made and thought provoking doc’ that draws attention to how ideas drawn up according to political philosophy and not the actual practicalities of people’s lives can wreak havoc.

Really what would you do, charge more tax so that a person has less disposable income and has to downgrade their lifestyle or cut Government expenditure on our social infrastructure and leave people homeless or destitute?