Edge Hill University is hosting a public symposium to debate issues raised by Channel 4’s controversial reality show Benefits Street and suggest alternative ways of portraying Britain’s poorest communities in the media.

From the outrage surrounding Benefits Street, to the tabloid headlines about ‘welfare tourists’ and ‘scroungers’, and the Government’s focus on welfare reform, the image of the working class in Britain is an increasingly negative one.

The Edge Hill symposium, Beyond Benefits Street, aims to bring together academics, organisations that work with disadvantaged communities, and the public to discuss alternatives to the ‘poverty porn’ programming epitomised by Benefits Street.

As well as looking at examples of filmmaking that give a different view of working class life, the event aims to discuss the role and obligation of media educators in addressing this controversial issue and preparing the programme makers of the future.

clairemolloyClare Molloy, Professor of Film, Television and Digital Media at Edge Hill University, said: “Benefits Street is another example of the way in which vulnerable groups in society – the young, the unemployed, the disabled – are demonised in the media. These groups don’t have a voice in mainstream television – we want to look at why that is and what can be done to address it.

“As media educators, we are responsible for the next generation of programme makers and commissioners. We need to think carefully about what we’re teaching our students, because they will be making decisions about what we all see on television and in films in the future.”

Beyond Benefits Street will include speakers from the film and media industries as well as contributions from academics in the fields of journalism, communications and media studies. This free public event also includes screenings of Condition of the Working Class (2012); Giro: Is This the Modern World? (1985) and a selection of short films.

Edge Hill has a long history of championing social justice and inclusion, from votes for women to widening participation in education, and research carried out at Edge Hill today reflects this heritage. Beyond Benefit Street is the first in a series of events focusing on ‘Class and Community’, hosted by Edge Hill University’s Institute for Creative Enterprise.

The event will take place in the University’s new Creative Edge building on Wednesday 2nd April 2014. The symposium is from 12- 5pm. Screenings are from 5-7pm. All welcome.

For further details please visit: https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/ice/2014/02/20/beyond-benefits-street-symposium/