Families have disowned us, say stars of TV show Benefits Street

Jobless stars of a new television documentary say they have been 'manipulated' and claim their families have disowned them after how they have been portrayed.

Families have disowned us, say stars of TV show Benefits Street

Channel 4's Benefits Street features the lives of locals living on James Turner Street in the run-down Winson Green area of Birmingham – where almost all the residents claim benefits.

A straw poll reveals a staggering 90 per cent of residents living in the 137-house street claim one or more benefits, ranging from £500-£900 a month in free hand-outs.

The first of the six-part series starts tonight at 9pm but some featured in the show are unhappy with how they have been portrayed.

Mark Thomas and Becky Howe, both aged 23, live with their two-year-old daughter Casey and son Callum, four. They pick up £750-a-month in child tax credits, child benefits and job seekers allowance.

Speaking about appearing in the documentary, Becky revealed some of her family have already disowned her before it has even aired.

She said: "Our faces are everywhere. Half of my family and friends have already disowned me because of it – I've had to take them off Facebook. Some want me to change my name on deed poll.

"We might be on benefits but everyone has got to start somewhere. When people have said nasty things on Facebook, I've just said 'Well how were you brought up?' We're going to be put in the same group as all benefit claimers. There's been so much recently about people being on benefits and we don't want to be caught up in all that.

"They've just tried to make us look like slums. Everyone on the street is fuming about it."

Partner Mark added: "They've put smack bang in the middle of the description words like 'drugs' and 'alcohol' – God knows where they got that from. I'm on benefits at the moment but that's because I'm training to be a security guard.

"They want to make us look uneducated – but they don't know what they're talking about because I went to college."

A spokesperson for Channel 4 said: "It is a sympathetic, humane and objective portrayal of how people are coping with continuing austerity and cuts in benefits."

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