Challenging the Stigma: Your Story

22 August 2018

At a time when 90% of tenants feel the media presents a negative stereotype of social housing tenants*, we pledged our support to an important new campaign called the Benefit to Society. This campaign seeks to challenge the way in which residents of social housing are often portrayed in the tabloids and on TV, as lazy and irresponsible, by giving a voice to tenants.  We hope this will help combat the negative stereotype.

When we asked you what your stories said about the stereotype, one of our long-standing tenants, who has been with us for over 40 years, got in touch to share her experiences. The following is Janet’s story.

***

 “Don’t worry too much, they’re only social housing people.”

This was a passing remark made by an outside contractor working on the social housing in Janet’s street in the 1990s. For Janet, the contractor’s attitude, that social tenants were somehow less deserving of good quality workmanship, reflects a negative stereotype of tenants that remains prevalent today.

 “The most common stereotype around social housing,” she says, “is the idea of a ‘something for nothing’ culture.”

Janet, who has worked all her life and, recently retired, remains an active volunteer in various community activities, contests this idea:

“From my own experience, there’s a great sense of community where I live in Exwick. There’s a mixture of private and social housing, with people from all walks of life … teachers, photographers, engineers, supermarket assistants, Mums, stay at home Dads, NHS workers… We’re no different than anyone else: we all want the same things from life.”

Janet explains why she believes the Benefit to Society campaign, which encourages everyone to ‘see the person’ not the stereotype, is so important:

 “We can all be guilty of making pre-judgements and I think the stereotype about social tenants comes from ignorance, pure and simple. We need to go back to the drawing board and make people aware that there is no ‘us’ versus ‘them’.

That’s why the Benefit to Society campaign is such a great opportunity. It raises awareness of social tenants’ real stories and helps challenge the stereotype which is so dehumanising. Human beings should be treated as human beings, no matter where they live.”

***

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Janet for sharing her story. We know from our own experiences of our tenants the many ways that they contribute to their communities and appreciate that in the context of negative stereotyping this contribution can sometimes go unnoticed.

As Janet pointed out, this is just one story: there are many more positive stories hidden behind our tenants’ doors!

Do you have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you about your experiences and how they challenge the stereotype. Contact Rachel on rc@cornerstonehousing.net or call 01392 273462.

To read more about the campaign, visit: http://benefittosociety.co.uk/

 

*according to a recent survey by the London School of Economics, available here.

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