Brand new four-part observational documentary series, Skint tells provocative and revealing stories from the inside out about how people survive without work. The series focuses on the lives of a group of people who are either in long-term unemployment, have never worked, or are growing up without any expectation of working.
With access over nine months in Scunthorpe, Skint follows a father and step-father of seven, who used to work at the steelworks, and his friends and neighbours, many of whom live on an estate in one of the most deprived areas of the town. At its height the steelworks employed 27,000 people. It now employs a sixth of that number. With work continuing to be hard to find, the people featured in this series are thrown back on their own resources.
Told with energy, humour and boldness, this series offers an insight into their lives: highlighting social issues such as youth unemployment, crime, welfare dependency, truancy and addiction; but with the characters also revealing their ingenuity, resilience, community support and love and pride of family.
Skint gets behind the headlines as people, often maligned for their lifestyle, offer their own story and show the real impact of worklessness – both today and over generations.
Bringing up children when work is scarce around is never easy, but it becomes an uphill battle if you are also struggling with addiction. The final episode of Skint follows the impact that addiction can have on family life
Emma used to have a drug problem, but is now stable on methadone. Her boyfriend Pete is the estate window cleaner and, as Dean explains, a much-loved local character. When he is not cleaning windows however, Pete can frequently be found drinking on 'The Wall'. Pete has worked all his life and adores his son, but after a recent incident where he was found under the influence in charge of a minor, Pete is now not allowed to look after him alone. Emma faces an impossible dilemma - should she stay with Pete and risk losing Ty, or move away for a new future?
Next to ‘The Wall’, where regulars congregate throughout the day, there is a community drop-in centre called 'Off the Wall' which provides support, shelter and a daily breakfast. Trying out as a volunteer is 45-year-old Gail. She is only too aware of the havoc that addiction can wreak on families. Her ex-partner beat drug addiction only, tragically, to succumb to alcohol in his thirties. His death had a huge effect on Gail’s daughter Skye, who, now aged 15, has been getting into fights. The repercussions are brought home to Gail when she has her windows smashed and the doors inside her house kicked in. She is so shaken by the attack that she decides her only option is to move.
Tracey's just been released from the prison cells having been caught shop-lifting again. It’s back to the daily search for money and this time she's pawning her rings. Meanwhile Dean has been helping his little brother Greg with his job search and the family get delivery of their new flatscreen TV and enjoy a night of 3D home cinema, bought on the ‘never-never’.
The third episode follows 37-year-old Dean, his wife Claire and their seven children and step-children as the local pub – The Desert Rat – re-opens. Three months ago, The Rat was attracting so many problems with customers that it was shut down. Now Claire’s cousin Denise is taking it on and wants to make it a success, without the previous unwanted attention. For Dean and Claire this is a rare night off from the children to go to the opening night.
Just outside the pub is ‘The Wall’ where people congregate – often when they have nothing better to do. The Wall regulars are sure that the pub re-opening spells trouble with the draw of daytime drinking.
The film features some of The Wall regulars. Thirty-five-year-old Kieron used to shoplift to feed his drug habit until it he was banned from Scunthorpe town centre with an ASBO. Kieron is now trying to go straight, volunteering at a local church drop-in centre, but his road to recovery is bumpy. He is made homeless, sending him to the streets in an anxious and upset state.
Meanwhile Dean, his family and some friends are heading off on holiday. As six adults and 11 kids squeeze into a caravan in Skegness, tensions begin to brew between Dean and his step-son James. Of Dean and Claire’s brood of seven, James is the first to finish school and is thinking about going into the army. But when his GCSE results come in all he gets is one ‘D’, Dean and Claire are worried that James will end up as one of The Wall’s regulars.
Frustrated with the lack of work in the area, is Shane – who used to be Dean’s son-in-law and has been out of work for nine months. Shane had been working in Abu Dhabi with his dad, but came back to be with Dean’s step-daughter. With work scarce however, their relationship has hit the rocks. Shane’s dad is now moving to India to find a job, but Shane decides to stick it out in Scunthorpe to be near and provide for his daughter. Wanting to avoid a path that many friends in the area have taken, and with Dean and Claire’s support, Shane tries to channel his anger into a career and launch himself as a cage fighter.
Bringing up girls when there is not much work around can be a challenge. Dean’s wife Claire became a mother in her teens. She has recently found out that her 15-year-old daughter has been driving around with an older lad and Claire is worried that she will follow in her footsteps.
Nineteen-year-old Fergie is on the run from the police. He has been in prison before but this time is really worried as he has started going out with a new girlfriend and is ‘paranoid to death’ about whether she will stick around should he go inside.
Keeping a relationship going under volatile circumstances is never easy. Sixteen-year-old Jemelia left home when she was 14, and had a baby at 15, who was immediately taken into care. The courts are about to decide on the future of Jemelia’s baby and she and the baby’s father are trying to rebuild their relationship. But the shared house where they are living in the town centre becomes increasingly chaotic and the strain between them begins to show.
As Dean and Claire are all too aware, relying on ‘the social’ isn’t all plain sailing. Like Dean and Claire, Hayley and her boyfriend survive on benefits. Hayley is just 21 and has five children. Neither of them are working but she defends their right to have a big family. The couple are planning to tie the knot, but as their wedding approaches their child tax credit is cut off due to a mix-up over addresses. With six weeks to go before their new claim can be processed, Hayley’s last resort is getting charity food parcels to feed their children.
Frank, funny and provocative, Skint pulls no punches in its look at a community where a life without work is nothing out of the ordinary. Thirty-seven-year-old Dean used to work at the steelworks, but now gets by on benefits. He lives with his wife Claire and their seven children and step-children on the Westcliff estate, one of the most deprived parts of Scunthorpe.
He is candid about his feelings and responsibilities towards Claire and his children - he has worked for 23 years and feels he deserves ‘a bit back’, no matter how big his brood. And he emotionally introduces his newborn son as the latest welcome addition to the family. With so many mouths to feed however, Dean and Claire begin to consider whether it’s time for the ‘snip’.
In an area of high unemployment, crime is always going to be an issue – and Dean takes a pragmatic approach. With money tight Dean, like many of his friends, uses the service of the local shoplifters whether it’s getting food from ‘unofficial suppliers’ to fill up the fridge or buying stolen deodorant on the cheap – whatever he feels he needs to do for the family.
But Dean is all too aware of just how challenging it can be bringing up kids when crime is all around. One of Dean’s neighbours Jordan, has just had her windows smashed in. Jordan’s 15-year-old son Connor has been excluded from seven different schools and relations between mother and son are at breaking point. Connor is supposed to go to a special residential school but would rather spend time with his friends on the estate, many of whom are already getting into trouble. How can school compete with his friends’ adrenalin rush of joyriding bikes around his estate? And how does Dean react as the impact of crime starts to be felt in his own family?