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Community worker to help ‘Benefits Street’ resident

SETTING: Benefit Street

A COMMUNITY worker has set up an initiative to reach out to residents from the area in Birmingham featured in the controversial Channel 4 documentary series Benefits Street.

Chantel Blake said she was inspired to start the Boss Youth Project after watching the programme, which is set on James Turner Street in Winson Green, where she is from.

The programme focuses on a community where the majority of households claim benefits and are unemployed.

The show prompted hundreds of complaints to Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom from viewers concerned about the negative portrayal of benefits claimants and the depiction of criminal activity.

Channel 4 said makers acted in a "purely observational capacity".

"At no stage was criminal behaviour encouraged or condoned. All contributors were briefed that if they carried out criminal activity on camera, this could result in criminal investigations after broadcast," a spokesman for the broadcaster added.

Blake’s project will support young men between 15 and 19 into work, training schemes and higher education opportunities.

The project is scheduled to begin in March and will include mentoring weekly workshops, training and job search.

Chantel Blake said: “This is a very important initiative and will help many young people realise their potential and identify their future goals.

“Winson Green is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the country but I want to ensure that young people have access to a fantastic future.”

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