Tackling negative 'Perceptions'

Unfortunately, the negative perceptions of social housing and tenants who live in social housing seem to be a real issue in our society. Public polls and research papers further highlight that this problem exists. The media and television programmes such as ‘Benefits Street’ have only exacerbated the situation. At Brent Housing Partnership (BHP), this was definitely an issue of concern for us and our community, especially as we see on a daily basis that this ‘perception’ is not the reality. 

In July 2014, to mark our 10-year asset management partnership with Wates Living Space, we wanted to create a positive representation of both organisations’ commitment to the local community. This is where the idea for the film ‘Perceptions’ came about.

‘Perceptions’ is about a group of dynamic young people who live on a council estate in Brent. In the face of much negative press and stereotypes, two of the teenagers are inspired by an English lesson at school to use their initiative to bring the residents of St. Raphael’s Estate together with the use of a spoken word poetry event. The film opens with the quote: “Change your perception, change your reality. The power is in the spoken word.” 

BHP and Wates commissioned and produced the film and it was directed by young Brent-based actor, director and producer, Samuell Benta. BHP’s Youth Board who were involved with the whole project, suggested locating the film on St. Raphael’s Estate which regularly receives negative press attention. They wanted, for a change, to bring a project which was creative and dynamic to the estate, and instil a sense of pride for residents.

We have been amazed at the positive reactions to the film and discussions have already begun with the local community on challenging perceptions of social housing and inspiring young people to achieve their goals. Our hope is that these discussions and the film as a resource will assist in changing people’s attitudes and opinions and that we are no longer judged by where we live but what we contribute to society. It’s very encouraging to see the housing sector rallying behind this cause and we are also proud to be part of this positive movement.