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Benefits Street: Bromford announce ‘Hidden Story’ twitter debate

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On Monday 17th February,  to coincide with Channel 4’s ‘Benefits Street: the Final Word’ and ‘Benefits Britain: The Debate’ (8:30pm – 10:00pm), Bromford will be hosting a Twitter debate looking at how we can move forward with the issues raised in the show.

'Benefits Street', which attracts nearly 5 million viewers each week, looks at the lives of some of the residents on Birmingham’s 99-home James Turner Street. Featuring notable characters like Fungi and White Dee, the show aims to explore the lives of people on benefits, and those who live in ‘deprived’ communities. 

However, despite the show facing criticism from the media and receiving thousands of comments via Twitter, many of the real issues have yet to be addressed.

On Monday (17th February) we’re pulling together a selection of panelists to have an open discussion on Twitter about the issues the show raises. We want to look past the controversial elements and focus on the solutions social businesses like Bromford can offer, as well as councils, landlords and health trusts.

John Wade, Bromford’s Director of Support, New Ventures and Innovation and one of Monday night’s panelists, said;

“The title ‘Benefits Street’ seems to have been chosen to be controversial and to provoke extreme responses from viewers and commentators alike. But we think that if you can look past the title and the white noise of criticism there is another, hidden story. Focus on the lives of the people living on James Turner Street and you see ordinary people doing their best to cope with life’s challenges.

“The residents show great warmth and care for each other and have dreams of escaping the lives they currently have but don’t know how to break the cycle. When we're watching 'Benefits Street', we shouldn’t get angry or begin to condemn. We should be asking ourselves what could we do to help? How can we help unlock people’s potential? 

“As a business with the resources to help support customers who face social exclusion, we believe we have a responsibility to encourage this debate and come up with a way of moving forward.”

Our panel includes:

Paul Taylor – Paul wants to explore how innovation can help provide solutions and overcome the negative stigma of benefits. Paul recently published a VERY popular blog looking beyond the controversy of Benefits Street. 

John Wade – As Managing Director of Support, New Ventures and Innovation, John believes the support sector must take responsibility and action for some of the issues in the show.  John recently wrote about how we must give the tools for people to help themselves, rather than simply giving them welfare.

James Walsh – James is hugely passionate about employment, and believes that when provided with the right opportunities and support, everyone will make the choice to help themselves be the best they can be.

Shirley Ayres - Influential commentator on social care and health, Shirley regularly tweets about how various sectors (such as health and housing, care and councils) can work together to better all communities.

Rebecca DaddowRecovery and Justice Lead for Nurture Development (@NurtureDev), Rebecca’s role entails supporting and researching recovery, rehabilitation and partnership working. Her interests surround 'Citizen development’ and inspiring citizen-led social change

Get involved:

Despite having a panel, we want to everyone to get involved and have their say. Whether you’re a social housing customer, receive benefits, work in housing, health, support, employment or local government, are currently unemployed or just have an opinion on the Benefits Street show, we want to know what you think.

Getting involved is simple. If you’re a twitter user, follow @Bromford on Monday night from 8:30pm and get involved using the hashtag #HiddenStory. We’ll be posting topics, but our panel will lead the discussion as we follow the points raised on Benefits Street: The Final Word and Benefits Britain: The Debate.

We’ll also invite non-twitter users to get involved through an interactive discussion on our website, details of which will be published over the next week on the Bromford website at

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