‘We’ve been s*** on’, say residents of Britain’s most deprived area who claim they’ve been stitched up by reality TV shows

‘We’ve been s*** on’, say residents of Britain’s most deprived area who claim they’ve been stitched up by reality TV shows

- in Uk News

IT’S the poorest place in England.

A rundown seaside village apparently so blighted that a US politician used a bleak picture of its streets as campaign material.

Louis Wood – The Sun

Jaywick, Essex has been named Britain’s most deprived area for the third time in a row, but residents claim they’ve been stitched up by reality shows[/caption]

The area’s infamy reaches far and wide – American politician Nick Stella faced criticism when he used a bleak image of Jaywick in his campaign

This week, troubled Jaywick — a slice of Essex jutting into the North Sea — was named for the third time in a row as the most deprived neighbourhood in the country, just as it had in 2010 and 2015.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government looked at levels of income, employment, education, health and crime as well as housing services and living environment.

Over the years, grim reports and TV documentaries have painted the resort of 5,000 as a shabby place of feckless, boozed-up benefits claimants, dilapidated homes, boarded-up shops and discarded mattresses.

A dark and depressing image — unless you talk to many of the close-knit villagers.

On his mobility scooter decked with mirrors and a fluttering Union Jack, ex-mod Bob Johnston, 68, praised the community spirit, “which you don’t get in big cities any more”.

He had been going to Jaywick with his family since the age of seven and chose to settle there in his sixties.


The retired carpenter, originally from Walthamstow, North East London, said: “There might not be much money here but we make up for that with how everyone gets along.

“I love the people. You get the odd scrote but you get that everywhere.

“It’s a slower pace of life. You can relax and the air is fresh. In the summer, the beach is packed. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my retirement here.”

Like many in Jaywick, he blames the Channel 5 “poverty porn” fly-on-the-wall series Benefits By The Sea for accentuating the woes.

Bob added: “The C5 thing was all benefits and drug addicts. They filmed all the most broken-down houses.”

Other residents also claim they have been “s**t on” and stitched up by reality TV shows.

Danell Dreelan, 33, and her mum Sindy Hannam, 54, slammed Benefits By The Sea – saying the programme was staged.

Mum-of-three Danell told the Sun Online: “This place has a bad reputation and that’s it. That programme Benefits By The Sea was a joke, most of the people never lived here.

“They were brought in, made us look like complete scumbags and moved out.

Louis Wood – The Sun

Bob Johnston loves the slower pace of life and the neighbourhood’s residents, but he blames reality shows for filming the worst parts of Jaywick[/caption]

East News Press Agency

Sindy Hannam (left) and Danell Dreelan (right) agree as they claim Benefits By The Sea was staged[/caption]

Louis Wood – The Sun

The say producers deliberately filmed the most broken-down houses and that most of the people that appeared in the documentary weren’t actual residents[/caption]

Louis Wood – The Sun

Locals paint a different picture – Margaret Johnston says moving to Jaywick was the best thing she ever did as ‘everyone is so welcoming’[/caption]

“We had Jodie Marsh try and come in filming but everyone egged her as they didn’t want her here.

“We are not down and outs we are normal people with normal lives – our kids go to school. Even the dustmen call us scumbags.”

Jaywick’s infamy reaches far and wide. Last October, US Republican congressional candidate Nick Stella used a bleak photograph of the village in his campaign, suggesting this is how America could look if voters did not support Donald Trump.

He wrote: “Only you can stop this from becoming a reality.”

We are not down and outs we are normal people with normal lives – our kids go to school. Even the dustmen call us scumbags.

Danell Dreelan

It left Jaywick folk outraged. Local councillor Kevin Watson pointed out the picture was taken in the Brooklands area of the village, which has had dramatic improvements since £6.5million was pumped into the area by the county council.

He said: “Things are looking good in Jaywick, probably the best since it was a holiday destination.”

Last year Jaywick was visited by a representative from the United Nations, an organisation usually associated with famine and war zones, as part of an investigation into poverty in Britain.

Prof Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur for extreme poverty, was on a fact-finding mission looking at the impact of changes to “social protection” in recent years.

Despite finishing top of the poverty table once more, people here are far from despairing.

Like many, dad-of-one Steve Tilbury moved from London’s outer suburbs and adores the sea air and the neighbourhood togetherness.

The retired printer, 65, stared out over Jaywick’s golden sands yesterday and said: “I was skint today but my neighbour lent me some money to do a shop. It’s that sort of place.

“Quality of life isn’t all about money. I wouldn’t go back to London if you paid me.”

Behind the bar at the friendly Broadway Social Club, former civil servant Margaret Johnston, 59, a Glaswegian by way of Stevenage, Herts, said: “I moved here 17 months ago. It was the best thing I ever did.

“I walk every morning along the sea wall and it’s lovely. Everyone is so welcoming.

“The council has invested in the area but there’s only so much in the budget. My road was a dirt track years ago but it’s now been paved. Things are getting better.”

Louis Wood – The Sun

Recent figures showed that 57 per cent of residents are living in ‘income deprivation’, meaning they’re either not earning or are getting so little they need benefits[/caption]

Louis Wood – The Sun

However, many residents praise the area for its strong sense of community spirit, and they point to Jaywick’s glorious beaches[/caption]

Louis Wood – The Sun

Retired taxi driver John Burns says the key to improving Jaywick is attracting business[/caption]

Louis Wood – The Sun

Jaywick’s local MP Giles Watling says the area is ‘on the up’ as ‘new roads have been built and houses are being looked after’[/caption]

Enjoying a pint, retired taxi driver John Burns, 59, originally from Islington, North London, said: “It’s got more than its fair share of rubbish people but I’ve gone to sleep with my front door open without any problems.

“It needs money spent. It needs to attract business.”

The village lies some 60 miles from London. In 1928, entrepreneur Frank Stedman bought salt flats in Jaywick to build low-cost holiday homes for working-class families.

As the war ravaged East London, the families fled to the flimsily built beachside cottages — and never left.


Latest figures show 57 per cent of Jaywick residents are living in “income deprivation”, meaning they are either not earning money or getting so little they need benefits.

Independent councillor Dan Casey said the economy had suffered ever since Butlin’s shut its Clacton holiday camp in 1983.

Dan, 80, said: “I love the people in Jaywick but we need jobs and investment.

“We aren’t going to get it because no one will want to invest if they won’t get a return. If I was looking for a job and had a family to provide for in Jaywick and there were no jobs, it would destroy me.

“Let’s hope that something changes within the next five years, but I just don’t see anything changing.”

The local Conservative MP Giles Watling, who voted remain in a constituency that was 70 per cent leave, is bullish.

Walking along the seafront, he said of the C5 series: “They came with preconceived ideas.

“But this is a place on the up. The community here is strong, new roads have been built and houses are being looked after. It has a glorious beach. It will come off the bottom of this table.”

Let’s hope that something changes within the next five years, but I just don’t see anything changing.

Dan Casey

Tendring District Council believes the deprivation tag Jaywick has will help unlock new investment.

Councillor Paul Honeywood, its cabinet member with special responsibility for Jaywick, said: “The indices of deprivation examine a whole range of issues, many outside of our direct control, such as health and car ownership.”

The notion the village is stuck in a downward spiral is something those running not-for-profit company Jaywick Sands Revival disagree with.

Better than Blitz

JAYWICK was originally a mix of fields and salt marshes so prone to flooding it wasn’t suitable for farming.

In 1928, entrepreneur Frank Stedman bought land to build holiday homes on.

Plots were offered for as little as £25 – equivalent to £1,500 today – and the new residents built their own chalets and prefab bungalows as holiday stays. Londoners liked to holiday there in the Thirties, seeing it as an idyllic beachside retreat from the smog-bound capital.

After the Luftwaffe destroyed much of the East End, Jaywick’s prefabs became family homes, despite not being designed for the purpose.

They are continually patched up and mended to keep them standing and watertight.

Treasurer Carol Churcher, 72, an ex-publican originally from Clapton, East London, said: “We’ll prove the nay-sayers wrong.”

They do “little things” like washing and returning lost school uniforms, charity coffee mornings and food banks for babies while encouraging investment.

Fellow director Jayne Nash, 56, added: “If the people who did this survey had used community spirit in their report, we would already be nowhere near the bottom.”

Louis Wood – The Sun

Jayne Nash and Carol Churcher (right), who work at the Jaywick Sands Revival, say the village isn’t stuck in a downward spiral and are working hard to prove that community spirit goes a long way[/caption]

Louis Wood – The Sun

A large part of Jaywick’s housing was was meant as low-cost holiday homes but families fled to the area after the war – and they never left[/caption]

Louis Wood – The Sun

Independent councillor Dan Casey says the economy had suffered ever since Butlin’s shut its Clacton holiday camp in 1983[/caption]

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