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Stories that challenge: Emma

This is the second in my series, Stories That Challenge, hosted by Church Action on Poverty. These stories seek to reveal the reality underneath the 'scrounger' rhetoric. This is Emma's story, which you can access here, and below is the 'teaser' that presents the 'scrounger' side. But Emma is an incredible, hard-working, 'striving' woman. The 'scrounger' narrative is ludicrously wrong, but it's still such a powerful story, perhaps because it's so simple and it lets richer people off the hook for doing anything about poverty and structural injustice.

Emma is your ‘typical’ workless benefit claimant: overweight; in a power chair; all-but never worked.

She’s the kind of person who’s pointed out on the street as an exemplifier of all that’s wrong with Britain. The obesity epidemic; the eating of fast-food and processed food and sweets and ice creams; the lack of work ethic; the attitude that believes it’s right and better to take state money than to work.

The person who had children whilst on benefits, rather than wait to be able to afford them. The person who uses abortion as a birth control method. The person who fights like a tiger for her ‘entitlements’, but can’t keep a stable relationship.

Except that that’s not Emma’s story… That’s the narrative that rich and lazy people weave in their heads around people like Emma, because it’s easier than finding out the truth. 

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