The material submitted consists of work investigating the causes and impact of the housing crisis, which followed my work on Big Capital: Who is London for?, my book on the housing crisis. The journalistic submissions include a ‘Long Read’ extract from Big Capital in the Guardian and two pieces for the Guardian on the causes and wider implications of the Grenfell fire. Also included is a podcast from an event at the London Review Bookshop and a video of a public debate on the housing crisis at the London School of Economics.
What is housing for? LSE public lecture
Anna Minton in conversation with Oliver Wainwright, London Review Bookshop
The Macpherson report 19 years ago and its assessment of “institutional racism” within policing is regarded as a defining moment in British race relations. The consensus now is that things have much improved; that fatal violence towards the black community is a US not UK issue. Over the summer, a cluster of young black men died following police contact. The official accounts were vague, but oddly similar. By painstakingly tracking down witnesses – many of whom were not interviewed by the watchdog – these official versions were contradicted and exposed. Together, they suggested a cover up. Lawyers warned us not to run the findings or footage because they might prejudice official inquiries. They were ignored in the public interest. Days after publication the IPCC recommended suspending officers; one force internally admitted failings. A month later, as a direct result of the article, another five Met officers were placed under investigation. Within three months the IPCC was shut down.
The arrest and death of Rashan Charles
I aimed to expose how dangerous and widespread Spice use had become in Manchester in order to jolt authorities into action. Its use among society’s most vulnerable and hidden people – care leavers, prisoners the homeless – meant public policy had been allowed to lag way behind, to catastrophic effect. Agencies were still not recording how many incidents featured Spice, despite it having long been documented – including by me, through FOI, in 2015. So I spent 6 months researching the Feb 2017 investigation. When use exploded onto the streets last Spring, reportage then seemed the most powerful response. It succeeded in its goal, to an extent. The public nationally now knows about this drug – and so do politicians, some of whom had apparently been oblivious. One survey placed Spice as the top priority among mayoral election voters in May.
Social media & audience response
With these documentaries on child poverty and cannabis, Professor Green, has confirmed himself as a unique voice to bring a broad and younger audience to the social issues of today. In Britain today, 1 in 4 children are growing up in poverty. These figures are set to rise. Professor Green has done well, but he grew up in a home with a lot of stress around money. In this immersive film, he sets out to uncover what life’s like for young people on the breadline and finds the hidden consequence is mental health. He spends time with 10-year-old Kelly-Louise and 14-year-old Tyler. Her family have been evicted, can’t afford a deposit on a new home and facing homelessness, her life is turned upside down. The impact of poverty and cramped emergency accommodation or Tyler are palpable.
There are 670,000 children in England living in families regarded as high risk whose privations are mostly invisible to the authorities. My special investigation – The Lost Childhoods – surfaces this otherwise unseen report by the Children’s Commissioner and depicts the tough lives of some of these forgotten children, such as child carers and children living in secret domestic abuse safe houses. My series generated a special debate in the House of Lords as well as a vociferous response from readers who also set up crowdfunding pages for several of the children featured.
Social media & audience response
Until recently, Housing Associations were seen as uniformly philanthropic, morally-driven organisations. This run of work told a different story: about big London HAs, their increasing tilt towards hurried property development, and what that meant for their residents.
It began with an in-depth piece about the Orchard Village Estate in East London and the impossible living conditions people there experienced – which led to the resignation of the chairman of the UK’s largest Housing Association. That story sparked a deluge of emails and tweets which resulted in more coverage of badly-built London housing developments, the experiences of the people who live in them, and what their stories said about what many Housing Associations are turning into. In June last year, the Grenfell Tower disaster provided decisive proof of what these stories had highlighted: a culture of neglect and buck-passing, and its awful human consequences.
Social media content
The New Arrivals project sought to understand the lives of the large numbers of refugees and migrants trying to build new lives in the UK. The project investigated the string of injustices facing newcomers to Britain, from the kafkaesque asylum process, the boredom and stress of limbo, the nature of life on £37 a week, and the inevitable connections between refugees and homelessness.
It has already unearthed several scoops: the scandal of clustering asylum seekers in poor towns, the travesty of the Home Office interview process, the failure to prepare properly for Syrian children arriving, and – the saddest revelation of all: children forced into homelessness by bureaucracy.
Social media content
Children with rickets, parents fainting with hunger in the playground, schools with laundries to wash children’s clothes; in 2 special reports Dan Hewitt and Mat Heywood uncovered the shocking reality of child poverty in Britain, exposing the failings of the benefit system and finding families trapped in low paid, insecure work. The project aired on ITV Granada and ITV National News. It was viewed over 7 million times on social media with coverage in The Guardian, The Mail and The Mirror. Jeremy Corbyn praised the reports online. The focus was in-work poverty and the impact on children living in struggling households. They found breakfast clubs where pupils cannot afford 10p toast and cereal, where teachers give their own coats and shoes to parents, and GPs treating children with malnutrition. Dan and Mat spent several weeks with 2 working parents and also their children, who themselves gave them a rare insight how they felt growing up in poverty, a testament to the trust they’d built.
Social media content & audience response
Child Poverty Investigation: The Response
Since the EU referendum, a stream of news reports revealed a spike in hate crimes, but what they did not describe was the far-reaching effects on the individual, nor the response from agencies. What I did, therefore, was tell the inside story of a hate crime over six months: one gay man, one incident. By exploring with him the psychological, physical, legal and financial aftermath, I was able to convey the meaning of hate crimes and the inadequate provision for victims. Although in this instance one policy worked – a harsher sentence because it was a hate crime – by detailing how the victim’s life crumbled leaving him homeless and penniless, the complex picture of what is lacking in policies and provisions, came into view. Half a million people either read the piece or watched the video. Many emailed saying only now do they fully understood what a hate crime really is.
Channel 4 News aimed to highlight the reality of rough sleeping, by telling the story of one person who died on the streets of the UK. Andy Davies and his producer and cameraman pieced together the story of Lindy Pring, after seeing a brief mention in a student online newspaper of a woman’s death in a park in Cardiff. They found out her name, tracked down her partner who was living in a tent with her, and eventually persuaded her sister to describe Lindy’s path to homelessness. Through Lindy’s story, the TV and online work both personalises rough sleeping and sheds a light on the reality of life – and death – on the streets of a British city.
Social media content
“On the Edge was a piece of vivid, hard-hitting journalism, combining people’s experiences, data and analytic insight to show how so many people are being locked out and left behind by the way our economy works.” – Campbell Robb
“A brilliant combination of ice cold analysis, real human interest, great use and presentation of data and limpid writing – all of which takes the problems of one seaside town and sets them in a far wider context.” – Nick Timmins
Producer Director Joe Plomin’s films reveal the mistreatment of the most vulnerable people in society. His careful use of secret filming repeatedly delivers indisputable evidence of real, current ‘evils’. Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets exposed abuse and even assaults at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, widespread self-harm and people detained for months or even years as they await deportation. One boy was forced to test a batch of drugs by his cell mate. Since broadcast select committee hearings have begun in Parliament, the Home Office is investigating the company running the centre and its director has resigned. A criminal investigation is under way. Behind Bars, Prison Undercover helped reveal the truth about the crisis in Britain’s prisons, which prompted the Government to invest more.
G4S: What I saw when I went undercover
Rossalyn exposed how tabloids recycle the same stories with the same dozen or so single mothers claiming benefits over and over again, and how they work with agents to coordinate media coverage of people living in near poverty. Her story helped shape the British public’s understanding of the reality of benefit claimants vs the depiction in the media, one that fuels hatred for those on benefits, especially single mothers with many children. She tracked down and interviewed an agent who organises the press of one mother (she’s been in more than 50 stories about “scrounging” mothers in the UK in the last few years alone), but found he also helps fights her battles against the DWP. And speaking to charities, they say that she doesn’t represent the true extent of single parents on benefits.
Journalistic Writing and Social Media Content
After some lengthy investigative work, Peter was leaked an internal report by Transport for London. It revealed a 121% increase in reports of rough sleeping on London’s night buses over the past four years. But numbers only tell part of the story, and this data needed to be contextualised and humanised. The report showed that the worst affected bus route for rough sleepers in London was the number 25 – and so this became the centre of the story. It passes through large parts of central London, making it likely that people will know about the bus – perhaps they have even take it before, or use it every day. The aim was to bypass the compassion fatigue that often comes with depressing headlines. The case studies are given prominence, with imagery and audio recordings.
Journalistic Writing, Audio and Video Content
‘Behind Closed Doors’ was a one hour documentary broadcast in peak-time on BBC1 at 9pm on 14th March 2016. Three women waived their right to anonymity to allow their stories of domestic abuse to be captured over a year. Working with Thames Valley Police Domestic Abuse Units, the film explores not just physical violence but also shows the psychological, verbal and emotional control abusers have over their victims as the audience watches each victim trying to extract themselves from their perpetrators. The film also exposes the ordeals of going to court to seek justice – and the deep inadequacies in the criminal justice system as one abuser repeatedly walks free. The film was watched live by 3.1 million people and trended first on Twitter for over an hour on the evening of transmission.
Journalistic Writing, Video, Audio and Social Media Content