Wesley's Story Growing up Poor


Wesley's Story

Following young people as they tackle the issues associated with poverty. This looks at Wes as he tries to move out of his mum's home and find a job so he can support his son.


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Transcript


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In the midst of an economic recession,

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we're all in it together,

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but some are in it deeper than others.

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With one in five young people struggling to find work,

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and many dependent on benefits, Britain's youth is being hit hard.

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In Birmingham, 19-year-old Wes is having a hard time at home.

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'Me and my mum have good and bad days.

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'We can be all right for one minute

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'and the next minute can be completely different.

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'I just want to get my own place, innit?

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'Cos there's no space in my house any more, it's just overcrowding.

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'There's no income coming in.'

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See, I've shared my room with my brother for...19 years,

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in this cramped room.

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Wes has decided his only option

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is to try and get a place in a young person's hostel.

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I just want to do things for myself now.

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I have done college, school

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and I ain't got a job.

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So getting a hostel is the first step of me really doing anything.

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Wes has arranged a meeting about getting a hostel place.

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'It's one step off being a child, innit?

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'Going into the adulthood and getting my own place.'

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I'm just sick of being stuck in other people's houses

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and not having a place of my own.

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The meeting didn't go well and without a secure home or a job,

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Wes is often on the move.

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But one thing is making him think about his future.

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A year ago, Wes became a dad.

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And he's determined to be there for his son,

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but on £53 a week Jobseekers' Allowance, it's hard to contribute.

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Financially, um, yeah,

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it was hard, cos there's stuff that you just can't do all the time.

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I've been doing a bit of voluntary work, but...

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I don't know,

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I don't want to be doing voluntary work.

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Who wants to work for free?

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I've got to step up now, I've got to be a dad. I've got to grow up.

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I need to be there for him, you know what I'm saying?

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Wes may be a dad, but he and Rowen's mum are not in a relationship.

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When he's here with Rowen, he is good and I can't fault him on that.

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He does do the proper dad job.

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But he's still a little boy inside.

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So...

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I didn't expect it to be as hard as it is.

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-Go on.

-It's their child as well,

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they helped make it, so they should pay the way as well.

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Cos it's not easy. A tin of milk is near enough £12 now.

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That don't get you nowhere.

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So...

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If he got a job, it would be so much easier.

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Wes isn't the only teen dad on the estate.

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Almost all his mates are dads and out of work.

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His close mate Aaron has asked him to come round.

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With no money and a hungry baby, he's desperate.

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You know what you need to do, Aaron?

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Ask someone to lend you some money.

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Simple as.

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Simple.

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I went to my dad before yesterday to borrow money, innit?

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I can't do that now. Oh, you've been sick. Oh, bless.

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There's not many people out there that will borrow me things.

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They both know what the options

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for making money on an estate can involve.

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If I've got a bit of change in my pocket, I can go out there,

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grab a little set and I'll go flip it and make a little bit of money.

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You don't even want to be getting yourself

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-sucked into all this stupidness.

-I know.

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I could ask to borrow money,

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but it's not like I need to borrow a little bit, you know, I need stuff.

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-Can I use your phone?

-Yes.

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-MOCKING:

-'Hi, this is Jobcentre Plus.'

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-Please press one.

-I hate this...

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Wes has decided to try and lend Aaron the money himself,

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but his JSA payment hasn't come through

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and the Jobcentre isn't much help.

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OK, then.

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Thanks. Bye.

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She said get a crisis loan for now. She said it ain't been processed.

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The last time they offered me a crisis loan - £14. Take the piss.

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I'm not even going to get mad about it.

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Now I'll just have to see what else I can do.

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For now, he's as skint as Aaron.

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For Wes, one of the problems of being a teen dad

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is that his £53-a-week JSA makes no allowance for his son.

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As the mum, the extra benefits go to Laura.

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Today, she's going to the market with her mate, Sophie.

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Any four cheeses, £1!

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With my benefits, my money is every fortnight.

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On a good week, I do my proper shopping,

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so I go to Asda, get whatever there,

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and then, on the weekend, I go to the market.

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-Are these 60p?

-Those are 60p.

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When you're on benefits and you're a young parent,

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it's absolutely rubbish. You can't do or buy what you want.

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I spend my other shopping in Asda with my milk token,

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which I get... I get £3.10 on each milk token.

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And then down here, I get my fruit and veg.

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I just got three mixed bowls of veg for £2.

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Young girls think, "Yeah, I'm going to have a baby.

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"I'll get this money, I don't have to work," and whatever.

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It's not like that. It's way harder.

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I mean, I think the boys around us need to grow up,

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and they need to understand that becoming a father

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isn't just being the sperm donor

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or being the guy that comes around every weekend

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and spends a few hours with his child.

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I'm saying, if you're there for your son, you see him a lot,

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you ain't got to worry about financial stuff

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until you can afford it. That's how I see it.

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-As long as you're there.

-Mmm.

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'It doesn't take a baby to grow up, does it? We've learnt that.

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'But I think with boys, it takes longer to mature, doesn't it?'

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They've not had to go out and fend for themselves.

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I don't think they understand

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how good it feels to achieve something,

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and that's what they need to feel.

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That's the good thing about Wes.

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He does more than what the other lads do.

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And it turns out that one job application has been successful.

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We'll be doing the kick-up competition.

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Wes has landed his dream job of coaching football.

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It may be only for three weeks but it's paid work.

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'I signed off the Jobcentre so no more there.

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'Get paid,

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'then hopefully go out and find a permanent job.

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'Turn into a teacher.

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'That's how I feel. I feel like a teacher.'

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You tend to go one way and you drop and go that way.

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'When I was sitting at my house, ain't had a job, bored out my face,

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'I just felt like smoking a spliff,

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'but now that I'm actually doing something, I don't want to smoke.

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'I'm doing something that I enjoy.'

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And I'm getting paid for it.

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Six pounds something an hour,

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which is all right for kicking round a football,

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teaching kids, innit?

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I wouldn't mind getting into academies

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and coaching academies, cos I know I've got the level to do that.

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I know I can do that. So that's what I'm going to push for.

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INTERVIEWER: This a new start for you?

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Hopefully. I'd say so, actually.

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I can't say hopefully because there's no going back now.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Filmed over the summer of 2012, each programme highlights one young person as he or she tackles some of the issues associated with poverty.

Wes lives with his mum but it is not a long-term solution - she has mental health problems and he needs to have his own independence. He attempts to go to a hostel by declaring himself homeless but it doesn't get him the flat he wants. Instead he ends up chilling with his mates. The one thing he does devote himself to is his two-year-old son - but helping out with the finances is tricky, and he is not in a relationship with the baby's mum. He wants to find a paid position to help out more, and avoid the pitfalls of street life.


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