Benefits Street episode two

In: Uncategorized

16 Jan 2014

Whatever criticisms people make of Benefits Street (see 11 January post) it is the only programme I have seen on British TV that has let Romanian migrants tell their own story. The second episode focused on two groups of Romanians, one extended family and one group of 14 men, and the reactions to them.

With the help of translation (through sub-titles) we learn that the family is trying to make money by collecting and selling scrap metal. In the course of doing so they annoy their neighbours as they have allegedly ripped open bin bags leaving rubbish spewing on the street. The council then refuses to collect the rubbish until it is pressured to do so by angry phone calls.

An employer has brought the Romanian men to Britain with the promise of work. However, after not being paid for two weeks the Romanians call the police in the hope of getting their money. Half of the men flee in fear of what their boss and his gang will do to them after the police say there is insufficient evidence to act.

Opinions towards the Romanians among others on the street is mixed. Some are sympathetic, some ambivalent and others hostile.

Another storyline features a Polish woman with two children who is planning to marry a young Algerian man. Some on the street are convinced that the couple is marrying for money but the two deny it.