New website shows 'personal impact of Osborne’s war on welfare'

By staff writers
4 Feb 2013

Housing Justice, the churches' advocacy charity, has launched a new campaign website where people facing welfare cuts tell their stories of hardship and coping with the changes.

With welfare reform one of the most hotly debated topics so far this year, the campaign, revolving around www.tellmystory.org.uk, shows how changes are hurting unemployed, underemployed, sick and disabled people.

It was launched to coincide with the end of the recent Poverty and Homelessness Action Week 2013.

The benefit squeeze has already hurt vulnerable people in receipt of benefits, points out Housing Justice.

In April 2013 the squeeze is getting even tighter with the Benefit Cap, Bedroom Tax and the Cut to Council Tax Benefit.

Amidst these cuts chancellor George Osborne has fanned the flames of division describing those in need of welfare “sleeping off a life on benefits”, critics say.

"The myth that people on benefits are living a life of luxury needs to be challenged," says Housing Justice, the national Christian housing and homelessness campaigning charity.

The NGO believes that the media scapegoating of the welfare scrounger creates an unreal picture of how most claimants live.

"The rhetoric of strivers and skivers must stop. Whatever the motivations of those pushing this agenda, Housing Justice is launching this new national campaign to provide Britain with a window into the real world of claimants," the group said in a media release.

The ‘MyStory’ campaign gives people on benefits an opportunity to share their stories of struggle and survival through a public web space. The website is an online and growing wall of faces, with a story to go with each image.

The claimants involved can remain anonymous by choosing a stock photo, but Housing Justice is urging those who want to share their story to upload their own images. The public can then see directly the situations of those in need and how the safety net is breaking.

If you claim benefits, then now is time to stand together and oppose the culture of blame, says Housing Justice.

"Visit the site and click ‘tell my story’. Use the Take action page to write to your MP opposing the Bedroom Tax. Everyone has a right to a home, and enough income to provide for their needs.

"MyStory is a powerful national platform of solidarity for people who are suffering stigma from politicians and press. Come and visit www.tellmystory.org.uk to see the other side of the story. If you support the cause, then share it."

Alison Gelder, Director of Housing Justice commented: “The churches’ role is to stand in solidarity with those in need. Jesus repeatedly stood with those who were stigmatised by the authorities of his day.

"This campaign aims to give a voice to those who need welfare. It is a scandal that the poor are still being blamed for the mistakes of the rich.”

The initiative also chimes with the WOW (War on Welfare) petition launched by sick and disabled people and their supporters on the government's e-democracy site, which has nearly 20,000 signatures and is aiming to top 100,000 to help trigger a parliamentary debate.

* Tell My Story: www.tellmystory.org.uk

* Housing Justice: www.housingjustice.org.uk

* War on Welfare petition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154

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