Council’s online series shows characters’ escape routes
from benefits disasters
A Scottish council has launched an online soap opera all about benefits.
East Lothian Council came up with the idea to help people worried about changes to their benefits resulting from the UK government’s welfare reform programme.
Like all good soaps, each episode is based on real-life situations using relatable characters to draw you into their stories. The only difference from the likes of Eastenders and Coronation Street is that this series leaves you feeling help is available rather than in despair.
Episodes last just two-and-a-half minutes long but they still manage to get to the heart of the characters’ tales of despair while avoiding bureaucratic jargon.
I think videos are a good way of getting the message across to young people who might be facing a sanction. Sometimes people find a video easier than someone telling them
Supported by the East of Scotland Housing Advice Hub and charity Bridges Project, the episodes highlight escape routes from disasters such as the benefit, housing and financial problems, using council and advice agencies.
Topics covered so far include sanctions, relationship breakdowns, being asked to leave your home and how to get a community care grant.
Episodes are scripted and acted by a mix of amateur and professional actors, guided by producers from Media Education and council experts.
One of the stars of the series Deryn Dryden, who was working with the Bridges Project, said making the episodes brought home to him how good an idea the initiative is.
He said: “I didn’t know much about sanctions before I started but I certainly know a lot now. I’d definitely go out of my way not to get one!
“I think videos are a good way of getting the message across to young people who might be facing a sanction. Sometimes people find a video easier than someone telling them.”
Watch the videos by searching ‘East Lothian Debt, Benefits and Housing Advice’ on YouTube.