There seems, at the moment, to be a fashion from our dear broadcasters to produce programmes on Benefits and benefit cheats. Wether ‘benefit street’ or ‘benefit britain’, these shows aim to highlight ways in which people are avoidign work and claiming state support. Significantly though, its interesting to note that the growth of these programmes has come in the Governments drive for more and more welfare reform and within their ongoing spending reviews.
Yes, there are some who will work their way around the system, but what is worrying is how this stigmatises those who want to work, but find it extremely hard to break into employment because society makes it extremely hard for them to do so.
A few years ago, I remember having, well shall we say an exchange of views with someone whilst waiting for a bus. They called me a scrounger as I was clearly not at work and out during the day when maybe I should have been at home searching for work. I asked them why they had said this to me and they said because I wasn’t at work. Reversing the comment, I asked them ‘well, if I asked you for a job, would you employ me?’. Their answer – ‘No’ – I asked why? ‘Because your blind’. enough said.
A survey some time ago stated that 90% of employers would either find it hard or impossible to Employ someone who was blind. With this in mind and the kind of conversation that I had before, the stigma is really surrounded by total contradiction. Sadly, although the programme makers would argue that they are targetting particular people and not aiming to incorporate all job seekers, the reality is though that the more these programmes are made and promoted, the more the stigma is pushed out.
It would be good if more programmes and more effort was given to promoting reality; things that would help to raise expectations and create more employment opportunities. It would be nice to hear people make the comment ‘If you’ve got the skills then I’d employ you; doesn’t matter if you are blind or not’.