Skint, Channel Four: Is this How We Live?
Last night I watched Skint, a Channel Four ‘real-life’ documentary about the long-term unemployed.
It’s set in Scunthorpe, on the Westcliff estate.
Dean, who used to work at a steelworks but had been on the Dole for a year.
37 years old he lived with his wife Claire and their seven children and stepchildren.
This is how the programme is described on its site,
Skint tells the provocative and revealing stories of people who are in long-term unemployment, have never worked, or are growing up without any expectation of working.
At its height Scunthorpe’s steelworks employed 27,000 people. It now employs a sixth of that number. With work in the town still hard to find, the people featured in this series are thrown back on their own resources.
Told with energy, humour and boldness, the series offers an insight into their lives, highlighting social issues such as youth unemployment, crime, welfare dependency, truancy and addiction; but with the characters also revealing their ingenuity, resilience, community support and love and pride of family.
Skint gets behind the headlines as people who are often maligned for their lifestyle offer their own story and show the real impact of worklessness.
Public life seemed to centre on a hanging-out point, a wall.
When they were not showing people with major personal crises, like teenager, Connor who’d been excluded from seven different schools, and his long-suffering (lone-parent) mother Jordan, they were shooting scenes of people trading and swooping dodgy goods.
Shoplifters came with delicacies like Bernard Matthew’s turkey products.
Apparently these were flogged by the local junkies.
Personally (I’m sure I speak for most of us) I would walk ten miles in tight boots rather than have anything to do with hard-drug users, but there you go.
The screaming fraught scenes shown are not to everybody’s taste either.
Knowing – and seeing – that this kind of thing goes on does not make it any more typical.
Most long-term unemployed are a lot, a hell of a lot, more ordinary and would no doubt not make good documentary material.
“Quiet desperation” is a phrase invented for them.
Still Skint is more real and even funnier than the dire ‘sitcom’ on ITV about a Job Centre, the Job-Lot.
I’d put the cast of that series on the Westcliff Estate and see how they fare.