It is six years since Benefits Street was on TV – and it’s still absolutely grim

It is now six years since Benefits Street graced our TV screens – and James Turner Street is still absolutely grim.

The documentary series followed the lives of people living in Winson Green, Birmingham, an area so rife with poverty it was dubbed "Benefits Street".

Viewers were transfixed by the lives of Deidre Kelly (white Dee), Samora Roberts (black Dee), Smoggy (50p man), James Clarke (Fungi) and Lee Nutley when Channel 4 aired the show in 2014.

The show followed as those living in the street struggled to make ends meet – and even turned to crime in order to put food on the table.

It polarised viewers at the time – with one council leader even saying: “Amazing they have no money, can’t eat but can drink and smoke – unbelievable!”

Since the programme was taken off air, Fungi has died of a drug overdose , Neil Maxwell has been jailed for 30 years after taking part in a brutal murder and a teen pal of White Dee has been killed in a gangland slaying .

One mum-of-two told BirminghamLive how conditions on the street aren't any better, years after the show aired.

"Every time I step out my door, there's litter everywhere. I've only been here since July, I'm trying to get out.

"I was homeless and living in a Travelodge. At least it was nice and clean in there. We had a mice infestation here, but we got a cat so that's sorted it."

Many of the residents are in a similar situation and said they had been moved to the street by housing associations or the council.

Another family were moved to the road from leafy Richmond, London, as the dad-of-five couldn't afford the capital's prices.

The move meant leaving family members behind, but he has made new friends on the street – which he says still retains its community feel, despite its problems.

"I was terrified at first, all I'd ever heard about Birmingham is it's a s*** hole, don't go there. I've been through so much. I'm just happy to have a roof over my head, even if it's a s*** one," he recalled.

"But the people are nice. The other night they all come out, everyone was out watching the fireworks. It's a nice community, it's not like London, if you dropped on the floor, they'd walk past you, here they'd stop and help.

"Everyone says hello, you've got the odd couple, but it is nice. I do like the people. I wish I'd come here [Birmingham] earlier, just not this street."

If given the chance, he says he would move in a heartbeat, having witnessed the street's issues for three years.

He speaks of a 12-year-old girl forced to move with her family after being sexually harassed, a delivery driver carjacked in the street and a family unable to wash their ten kids for more than a year.

"I've seen a gentleman get out of his car bringing a food delivery, and as he got out, one of these lads jumped in it and drove off," he explains.

He also revealed how one family who lived across the street survived with no running water and no electricity for a year-and-a-half.

"The people, they don't deserve to live in the s*** they're living in. Because they are living in filth.

"There was a family up the end there, there was a lot of them. The landlord done f*** all. Not a f***** thing.

"They must have had ten kids and they never had a wash as long as they were here. You would see and smell them walk past, it would break my heart.

"Some of these people, I can see in their face they are just depressed. Some of the people are the closest to animals I have ever seen people be.

"One 12-year-old girl, the boys would not leave her alone. In the end the police had to get involved, they had to move them."

Speaking of the fly-tipped rubbish from the top to bottom of the street, he says: "It seems like it's just left, once it gets in a mess, they leave it a mess.

  • Benefits Street star Fungi 'killed himself after devastating cancer diagnosis'

"You can't leave nothing out, if I left my buggy there, went in for half an hour, I'd come back and guarantee it's gone."

His partner then pitches in from behind the doorway: "They'd rob the eyes out of your f***** head."

Torn-open bin bags and their splattered contents line the street, a balaclava-clad man rides down the street in a quad bike, revving it loudly for everyone to hear.

A small child in bright pink Welles toddles out of her house, trampling across the rubbish as she runs to get inside a parked car with her mum.

Further down the street is Basoz Ali – she recently moved here with her family after their landlord in Perry Barr asked for their property back.

The young family, who have two children, are living in temporary accommodation with the council despite both being employed. She, too, longs for a better life in a different street.

"It's so difficult, we feel like we're ignored. We feel neglected. We work hard and we deserve better place to live," the 37-year-old says.

"We've got a lot of mice, we have to block all the holes in the house, but still they find ways to come in because of the messiness.

"They throw food bags, all their waste, even if its not rubbish day.

"In the house, the mice ruin everything, they ruin the shopping and I have to throw a lot of good stuff into the bin.

"Parking is difficult as well, sometimes because of the messiness, broken glasses everywhere. It's hard.

"Nobody cares about the rubbish and things. Sometimes my husband takes some of it to his garage to dispose of it, but still they bring it.

"There's no major problems, it's just the rubbish and the mess. Otherwise it's safe and quiet. "

Source: Read Full Article